Health and Wellness

Overcoming a Negative Work Environment

I want you to take a trip down memory lane with me for a minute …Remember when you first started your job, a job that you felt was perfectly suited to your education and experience, everything you had worked so hard to achieve. You started working, and for the first several months or maybe several years, you were in a constant state of “work-bliss.” You came in the door whistling and wanting to share your day with your partner. There was a real camaraderie between you and your colleagues.

Your superior was easy to talk to and a great listener. Every day felt new and unique, and you felt challenged just enough to build your self-esteem. Are you there, can you visualize this time in your life with me right now? Good. Then, one day, you wake up, and things have changed.

You no longer love your job, quite the opposite, you are left contemplating quitting and moving on. Not to mention things are tense at home, you are unhappy, and the unhappiness is seeping into all aspects of your life. What happened? How did you get to this place? You may or may not be able to answer these questions, either way, you know something has got to change.

As a Life Coach, I have worked with clients on finding contentment and emotional stability in their careers. Finding that, seemingly elusive, “work/life balance” is a focus of many. We know our personal and professional lives are interconnected; one influences the other whether we want it to or not. So, is it possible to reignite that love we once had for our job? Absolutely!

Uncreate a Negative Work Environment

In this article, I will share with you a few tips to start initiating that process for yourself. Many factors play a significant role in creating a negative work environment. Some of these include a “horrible boss”, “negative nelly” co-workers, or the physical workload that becomes a burden. Whatever it is for you, the physiological reactions that manifest are typically the same for everyone. Negative thoughts affect how we feel, creating unprofessional behaviour uncharacteristic of ourselves, which we feel guilty about. In simplest terms: Thoughts -> Feelings -> Behaviour.

Take back your Personal Power

When we inhabit a state of unhappiness toward something or someone, it begins to consume us. Everything we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, etc., appears negative. Allowing someone or something to control your happiness is literally giving your personal power away. We are no longer able to look at our career and what it has to offer us through an objective eye. A simple yet effective exercise that can help you view your job more objectively is to list the “pros” of your job. For example, you have flexible working hours, the location is close to home, you have a great compensation plan, etc.

This exercise can remind you of why you chose your job in the first place and also help you to focus on the aspects of your career that you are grateful for. As I have mentioned in my previous articles, we control our thoughts, happiness is a state of being that we can choose to adopt at any time. If you have ever been blissfully happy in your life, you can spend a minute closing your eyes and remembering that time. Visualizing how it felt, what you saw, what you heard, etc., to create a compelling vision for yourself. You will notice an instant shift in mood when you engage in this exercise and realize that you hold the power over your feelings.

Change Yourself

One of the greatest ways that we can evoke change in our environment is to change ourselves. We teach others how to treat us by the way we treat them and the types of interactions we are involved in. Make a conscious effort to engage with your colleagues in a more positive way, modelling the kind of interactions you would like them to have with you. Set the goal of initiating at least one positive/genuine interaction with a co-worker each day. You will soon find yourself returning to work with positive anticipation because you feel respected by your peers.

Measure Stress Level

The most common symptom of a negative work environment is increased stress. Make it part of your daily routine to start measuring your stress level on a scale from one to 10: one being no stress and 10 being an unbearable amount of stress.

As you give more thought to and start implementing the above suggestions, you will notice your stress level start to decrease, the goal is to get a consistently low rating over a period of four to six weeks.

Lowering your stress level will lead to you being more productive at work and much happier at home. The benefits of giving genuine, positive feedback to co-workers and what you are experiencing will drastically reduce your stress levels, which are immeasurable. Remember, minimizing your stress level will propel you toward achieving contentment and emotional stability in your workplace and contentment at home.

Rebekah Dixon, MSc, is a professional Life and Performance Coach currently living in Ottawa with her “happy little military family”. She is passionate about educating on the power of the unconscious mind and how we can reprogram our minds to be in alignment with our deepest dreams, goals and desires. Visit

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