You have no bosses? You are so lucky.

Bosses remind me of childhood, the subconscious, being coerced into doing things I didn’t like doing and didn’t want to do. I’ve always had a problem with bosses – whether that was in the frozen pea factory where workers were exploited when I worked there at 17, or in the numerous school settings since, which are run on hierarchies, petty rules and vindictive mindsets, generally.

My opinion of course.

I’m now in a position where when I meet someone – an ex-colleague, a neighbour, a friend, an ex-pupil – they congratulate me on having no bosses.

Words like “it must be so lovely having no bosses” are repeated chorally, which makes me realise that bosses are a problem and that they have stresses of their own.

Stress affects leaders, workplace managers just as it affects people lower down the food chain.

Look at Theresa May, a broken woman who is ill it seems to me.

I look back at the rather strange decision making of workplace leaders, the micro-management, the bullying, the irrational decision making and though I didn’t think it, when I was witnessing it, they are often mentally unwell too.

Self-employment ostensibly rids yourself of bosses in that you can politely or impolitely tell a client to “do one” to go all Mancunian, but you still see the same behaviour patterns of someone criticising and controlling and my own ingrained reaction of fight or flight.

Last week was a classic: I was given a writing brief, produced a blog post and exploded when it was trashed. I didn’t vent my anger in violence but in words. The script, that subconscious part of me dating back some 45 years, went into overdrive and rational thinking and responses went out the window.

When I posted about it, as I am an open book, I was met with a mixture of support and derision.

Which a week later, I can see was right.

My reaction was unnecessary and had I stopped and reflected, I should have realised that the client himself was probably suffering from stress in his micro-managing, critical approaches.

As Rag and Bone sings, “I’m only human after all” and my reaction a week ago was over the top.

Now if that was a workplace, with hierarchies, I would have had to go in the next day, face the music and dance, probably out of the job, or at least on a road out. That mortgage, that gas bill, those car loans don’t pay themselves with indignant anger and I would have had to apologise, bite my tongue and rebuild.

Or leave.

What I did was cut out the client, the hassle, the stress, and walk away.

Easier when you’re self-employed, but do it too often and you’re on the streets.

I know why I have a problem with bosses – not all bosses you must see: Alan Atherton, Mike Atherton’s father and headteacher of a Bolton school I worked in from 1993 to 1996, was a great boss and leader, as were others in education more recently, but generally I dislike them.

As do most people it seems judging by this regular conversations I have with others.

My own childhood had workplace bosses I intensely disliked from the age of 0 to 7, which formed my subconscious, which drives my anxiety, depression and occasional flight or flight responses with bosses who trigger that subconscious.

Now what I realised by thinking back, from 1965 to 1972, that events then shaped my reactions today.

I thought of three significant ones just this week that have affected the way I behave and react all my life.

If you have a problem with bosses, just remember we all do and pick a boss you like not the salary, and more importantly:


I have three major events, which I’ll tell more about in the next post.

Got a favour to ask too.

We want to hear your stories of mental health, your problems and your attempts at solving. To this end, we are awarding £50 to the best submission each month.

Drop us a file, in either Word or Pages, and if approved, we’ll publish it under your name or anonymously to help other men realise that their struggles with depression, anxiety and stress are not unique to them.

Email: or fill in the contact form.




By |2017-11-28T18:53:38+00:00November 11th, 2017|The Tribe|0 Comments

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