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Secret to Finding Inner Peace at a Toxic Job


I was recently chatting with someone about the United Nations’ Day of Peace project and was asked, “How can someone find inner peace at a toxic job?” 

That’s a tough question. Not because the answer is complex. The answer is actually quite simple. However, it’s not the answer most people want to hear.

It Starts With You

Finding inner peace at a toxic job starts inside your head. You must stop the NST (negative self talk) that’s producing your anxiety and frustration. Most people say, “I can’t help it. Things happen at work that cause me to feel the way I do.” However, that’s not technically true. We all have the freedom to choose how we react to things that happen to us. If you see yourself as the victim, powerless against what’s happening, then you will react with feelings of anxiety and frustration. But, if you choose to take ownership of the situation, you can break free of the golden handcuffs at work and feel empowered instead. I realize that’s easier said than done. But, it can be done. And here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Acknowledge you do have options.

You can either A) decide to leave the company and start focusing on a new job search. Or, B) step back and try to understand why you are so upset by these actions and what you could do differently so you don’t feel held hostage by the situation. For example, if you have a boss who yells all the time, you can either decide it’s time to find a boss that doesn’t yell, or learn to ignore your boss and condition your body not to react to the yelling. The choice is yours.

Step 2: Take action.

This is where most people give up. To change what’s happening means you will need to make an extra effort. You have to build a gameplan, find resources, and invest time and mental energy into fixing the situation. Sadly, most people don’t want to do the work necessary. They’re hoping things will magically change or get better. Or, they procrastinate and say, “I’ll focus on it next week.”  Meanwhile, they stay miserable and let the effects deteriorate their ability to do good work.  Which can actually make things worse…

FYI – Doing Nothing Could Hurt Your Career Even More

As a career coach, I’ve worked with lots of people who didn’t address a toxic work environment, got depressed, become disengaged at work, and suddenly found themselves getting fired for poor performance. Now, they’re stuck trying to explain what went wrong to potential employers. Guess what? The employers blame the candidates for not taking ownership of a bad situation Employers don’t respect employees that aren’t accountable for their own professional happiness. Employers want to hire proactive, positive people. Not people who act helpless.

This Is What Taking Action Looks Like…

That being said, using the yelling boss example from above, let’s look at the actions you’d need to take:

  • To find a new job, you’d have to figure out what kind of job you want next, build your marketing materials (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, interview prep, networking, etc.), and then use your free time outside the office to connect with employers and try to get hired.
  • To stay at the current job, you’d need to find some resources (books, videos, coaches, etc.), who could help you build your coping strategies and then invest time into practicing them in hopes you can reach a place where the yelling doesn’t bother you.

Either way, you’ve got work to do.

Tip: Your Chances Of Success Are Higher If…

Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of people in bad career situations. Some find new jobs. Others fix the situation they are in. In both cases, one factor predicts how quickly they get results and how successful they are overall with finding inner peace. What is it? Their view of the future.

When you wake up each day and think your best days, weeks, months and years are ahead of you, it’s proven you will be more successful. So, if you are in a bad situation and you think it will never get better, then I guarantee that’s what will happen. You must, I repeat, you MUST, visualize a better, brighter future. That’s what will motivate you to do the work required to fix your situation. Nobody is going to do it for you. The sooner you realize it’s up to you, the better.

PS – Remember, you’re the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.

A final thought around your ability to find inner peace. We’re the career company we keep. If you aren’t surrounding yourself with positive people focused on the future and determined to find inner peace at work, then you will find it infinitely more challenging to reach your goal. It may be time to do an assessment of who you hang out with. Are you spending time with people who can encourage you and support you? Or, are the people you are hanging out with negative, hopeless and miserable? See how important career company is? If you don’t have the right career company, consider getting involved in a group or platform that can provide you with the right community of positive like-minded experts and peers. Don’t let the negative forces of those around you hold you back from the career happiness you want and deserve!



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