Growing up, if your household was anything like mine, there was an emphasis on hard work. A person’s value came from how much they took on and how much they got done. Whether it was helping out around the house, doing well in school, or a summer job, everyone was expected to pull their weight. In fact, the surest way to feel good and to have something to show for yourself was a job well done.

While being a hard worker is a great value, being so focused on accomplishing tasks can leave you with a hyper-concentration on doing the work rather than the environment in which you work.

The downside to paying attention only to the job you are doing is that you might not know how to evaluate and choose a healthy company culture once you enter the workforce on a permanent basis. What’s more, you may fall into the trap of judging your self-worth based on the job you perform. You might have spent a lot of time fantasizing about how successful and accomplished you would feel once you got started in a career. But the reality may be that you’ve ended up in an environment that does not value its employees and is detrimental to your well-being.

The same is true if you envisioned yourself in a more creative field. The environment in which you work has a profound experience on how you relate to those you work with as well as how you feel about yourself.

In fact, a toxic work environment not only has the potential to impact your work performance, but it also seeps into your personal life, affecting your relationships, and health. The problem with a toxic workplace is that once you are caught up in it, you may not even be aware of its pitfalls. And as you realize how negative your job is, it can be really difficult to leave as it has become connected to your livelihood.

Maybe your situation feels a little like this…

It’s Sunday evening and you’re glued to the TV. You know you should be getting things ready for work in the morning. Setting out an outfit, packing a lunch…But you just can’t bring yourself to get off the couch. In fact, you’re dreading the idea of going in to work at all.

When your alarm does go off in the morning, you don’t even want to get out of bed, let alone get dressed and ready to go to the office. There’s never anything uplifting going on and everyone who works in your department is either critical or depressed. It’s hard to get any productive work done because you know you’re either going to be micromanaged that day or told that whatever you got done wasn’t good enough.

You know you can’t keep working this way if you want to have any sense of happiness or self-esteem. Truthfully, you’re hardly using your skills as it is since you’re so busy ducking office politics and redoing

the same busy work over and over again. But you also know you can’t just quit without another job that will pay you the same salary.

Eventually, spending every day in a toxic work environment can cause you to lose sight of what brings you joy in life – especially if one of your sources of inspiration is engaging in your career. The truth is you spend the majority of your waking hours at your job. And it’s really difficult to not be influenced by the negativity around you. If you continue to work in a place that is unhealthy, you’ll notice you no longer feel like the person who started working there in the first place. However, if you lose sight of the importance of feeling good about your work environment, you may be doing the job at the expense of your relationships with friends and loved ones and your physical and mental health. It’s true that working hard can help you achieve great things in life. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice having fun or enjoying yourself just to earn a paycheck. The key is finding a work environment that lets you thrive by feeling accomplished and successful while enjoying the people you work with.

A Negative Work Environment Increases Stress

Many people do not realize that they are working in a negative environment. It can be hard to identify whether your workplace is toxic and even if you do, you may put up with it because you feel like you don’t have any better options. More to the point, you may also feel as if you’re just lucky to have a job. While all of these thoughts are normal, they can keep you stuck in an environment that is negatively impacting the way you feel about yourself and how you interact with others.

Being in an environment where your boss constantly questions you or makes heavy, unreasonable demands can take a toll on how you move through the world. It’s difficult not to internalize another person’s treatment of you, especially if this person is in a position of power. In an environment like this, it is hard for you to feel like you are a valued part of a team or successful.

As you doubt yourself at work, you may begin to question yourself outside of the office too. This drop in self-esteem can impact the way you get along with friends and loved ones. You might start to withdraw from situations you typically enjoy because you are so depleted from your job that you no longer have the physical or mental energy for activities you enjoy doing.

Not only does constantly feeling undervalued keep you from connecting with others, it can keep you from connecting and caring for yourself. When you doubt your worth in other’s eyes you are less likely to get a massage, read a book, eat healthy food, or any other self-care activity.

When You Realize the Truth of Your Job Situation

On the other hand, some much more positive things start to happen when you recognize how toxic your workplace is. Once you build this awareness, you’ll see just how much of an impact your occupation has on the rest of your life and how interconnected everything really is.

Recognition is the first step in making changes. And once you realize that your self-worth is currently tied to a toxic place, you can intervene in whatever ways will help you appreciate yourself again.
Separating your value from your poisonous work environment is the first step in enjoying your life again.

You’ll start to feel valued, vibrant, and healthy, and have positive relationships again. Your friends and family will notice that your light has returned and that you’re no longer so negative.

You’ll feel much more in control of your bad moods and realize you have the power to keep your boss and coworkers from spreading pessimism and impacting your attitude. Moreover, when you recognize how much your work environment brings you down, you can develop a plan to move forward.

By addressing the concerns, you have about your toxic work environment, you will start to enjoy life again, rediscover your self-worth, and have the strength to find what is the best next step for you

5 Signs of a Toxic Work Environment

Though paying attention to how much your work environment impacts you is a good first step, making the changes to improve your situation can be easier said than done. While the culture at your job has such a negative effect on your perspective, recognizing this impact can feel a lot like making excuses. This is because you feel like you’re blaming someone else for your problems rather than taking ownership.

It takes a change of perspective, but choosing where, how, and with whom you work will help you feel less like the victim of your circumstances and more in control over your future. While over time this way of thinking becomes a beneficial lifestyle change, there are a few key signs your workplace truly is unhealthy, so you can start to make changes in your life more easily.

Here are 5 signs your work environment is toxic

Sign 1: Poor communication
This might include abusive language by your manager and/or coworkers or might simply be inconsistent

Sign 2: Physical and/or sexual harassment
Feeling unsafe at work is a sure sign the environment is toxic

Sign 3: Unethical Behavior
If you find yourself with a heavy workload or poor working conditions, you might benefit from looking for another place to work

Sign 4: Unhealthy competition
Sometimes it’s the people you work with that make you uncomfortable work with behavior like backstabbing, manipulation, narcissism, and mean-spiritedness.

Sign 5: Instinct
Your gut telling you it’s time to leave is not something you should ignore.

Decision Time: Making Changes

Now that you’ve identified if you’re currently in a toxic work environment, it’s time for you to decide on your next steps. One of the things to think about is whether you should begin to look for a more satisfying job or whether you can make changes in your current environment for the better.

This may entail you using a career assessment tool to determine if it’s the career itself which is a poor fit or if it’s the climate of your current job. In which case it may be time to dust off and spruce up your resume.

On the other hand, you may decide to try to improve your current work environment. This can be done by creating healthy boundaries so that your co-worker’s negativity does not affect you. You may also begin to appreciate and focus on what is going right rather than what is going wrong. Building a support system so that you won’t feel alone is vital. Have lots of self-compassion for this rough patch you’re going through and begin to cultivate positive coping mechanisms in order to deal.

Moving Forward

A toxic work environment can really impact you and your life outside of work. It can influence your relationships with friends and family, your self-care, your physical, and even your mental health. But by changing your work environment, or addressing the challenges at your current job, you will no longer feel stuck. You will start to enjoy your life again, feel valued, and pursue the relationships and activities that make you happy. And Connecticut Integrative Counseling can help.

To determine if your current work environment is toxic and to decide your next steps, please schedule a phone consult or call me to see if we are a good fit and how I may be able to help.