How to boost your confidence when your toxic job is destroying it

By Laura @ IWMLB Project | Help! I'm so burnt out

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May 09

You feel tearful, overwhelmed, alone. Work is a nightmare, your self-esteem has plummeted and you don’t know how to get it back. You desperately need some tips on how to boost your confidence as your toxic job is destroying it.

Burnout, stress and overwhelm are all symptoms of staying a job that makes you unhappy. 

But what about what it does to your confidence?

If you are in a negative work environment, it’s a daily battle to fend off all the toxic energy.

You start to question your abilities and the way you are acting at work. You berate yourself for everything you are doing wrong.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You’ve lost focus
  • You keep forgetting things
  • You’re making mistakes
  • It’s really hard to motivate your team
  • You’ve lost the enthusiasm for the business strategy
  • You are questioning whether you are really the right person for the job
  • Everyone else seems to be coping except you
  • You are snapping at colleagues

Your confidence slowly diminishes and seeps into other areas of your life. Before you know it, you are a crumpled, soggy tissue of a person.

So what should you do?

I’m not going to lie, there is no quick fix solution, it takes time to pull yourself back up.

I didn’t want to pepper the headline of this article with inane phrases like ‘10 easy ways to boost your confidence‘, or ‘get your confidence back today!‘ because that wouldn’t be true and is just click-bait.

Confidence is a personal thing and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You just need to start with one thing and see how you feel. If it doesn’t work, move onto the next one. If it does work, awesome, keep doing it!

How to boost your confidence when your toxic job is destroying it

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How to boost your confidence when your toxic job is destroying it

Clear your mind of negative thoughts

Although the poisonous atmosphere at work is not something within your control, the way you choose to think about it is.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that you should be able to withstand the tirade of character bashing comments from your boss or the many, many late nights you pull. That would affect anyone.

But if the situation at work is causing you to talk to yourself in a way negative way then you can make the decision to stop letting a toxic work environment turn into a self-flagellation.

The best way to do that is to calm your thoughts, stop the incessant mind-whittering and just ‘be’ for a while.

‘Mindfulness’ is the ‘big’ word in relaxation at the moment, but it doesn’t need to be this floaty, woo-woo thing. It just means being present in the now. Whether that’s meditating, baking a cake or sewing up a hole in your sock.

Here are some suggestions to help clear your mind of negative thoughts and boost your confidence:


You don’t need to be bendy, wear the latest Lululemon clothing or have the fancy mats. You can do it for free in your own home with youtube classes such as Do Yoga With Me.

If you do want the fancy classes and live in the UK, my guilty pleasure is Hot Pod Yoga. It’s expensive but I love it so I do treat myself sometimes.

It’s heated to 37 degrees in a big inflatable pod, Ibiza chill music through the speakers and Muji scent blowers. Totally unnecessary but just so damn good.


I’m crap at meditating, I find it very difficult to sit still, so I find meditation apps like Buddhify much better than attempting to do it myself (my nose itches, I wriggle about, and then check the timer on my phone with one eye).

Once I started using Buddhify I slept much better as I wasn’t kept awake by work worries.

Other options are books on Mindfulness and Mediation, guided meditation groups and retreats. Just google what you feel would work best for you and go for it!

Self-help books

You don’t need to be an avid reader to get the benefit of self-help books. Many of them are now available with Audible on Amazon.

The best self-help books I have read recently are:

Breathe in for 4 and out for 4

This one sounds way too simplistic and downright idiotic. It has helped me many times though for the exact reason that it is so simple.

Trying to remember what affirmation you are supposed to be saying on which day of the week is way more complicated than just saying ‘breathe in 1,2,3,4, breathe out 4,3,2,1‘.

I use it to go to sleep or just calm the crazy when I start to twitch over my to-do list.

Write about it

I don’t mean tweeting your darkest thoughts about setting fire to the hell-hole you work in and dancing on the ashes.

I mean just getting a notebook or your laptop and just writing whatever comes into your head. Not to show anyone, or even to ever read again, but just to stop the thought churning around and around in your head.

There is no target number of words or a time limit. Just stop when you run out of things to say. 

Have some good old-fashioned fun

Sometimes we just need to do something silly or playful. 

Bad-ass websites for women

Read some ‘yay women!’ stuff on the interweb for a quick boost.

The Middle Finger Project – run by Ash Ambirge this is not your usual fluffy ‘love yourself and the world loves with you’ type of deal. There is lots of swearing and snarky articles. Great for an uplift and mental fist pump.

Unleash your inner (5-year-old) artist

Drawing, painting, baking fairy cupcakes, colouring. Anything that is fun and doesn’t have to mean anything. Nothing needs to be Instagram worthy, or ever see the light of day after you’ve done it.

Watch some mindless rubbish 

Now I realise there is a ‘thou shalt not watch Netflix’ mantra going around, about how everyone would be so much more productive if they took a sledgehammer to the telly.

But f*ck it, sometimes you just need to watch something with Ryan Gosling in it, hell, Channing Tatum even.

Comedies, romcoms, Disney films. Anything that makes you feel good and doesn’t require many brain cells. 

Make a list of all the things you have done well in your job

This sounds a bit basic and ‘whatevs’ but I have done this and it does work. 

When I was feeling miserable about work and how crap an employee I was, I wrote down all the things that I had done well and why I wasn’t as bad as I thought. 

It made me realise I was focusing on all the negative points and ignoring the positive ones.

No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, but there are also a lot of great things we do that for some reason we choose to ignore.

Ask yourself if the way you think about your performance at work is accurate, or are you bashing yourself over the head repeatedly for nothing.

Look at the situation objectively, is it really about you?

When you step back and look at a situation without making it about you, there are many factors that could be contributing to your work environment which have nothing to do with your performance.

  • Is your boss insecure or trying to prove themselves?
  • Does your horrific work colleague hate everyone and not just you? 
  • Is your company losing money and it’s affecting the office atmosphere?
  • Are your clients unrealistic in their demands?

There are countless reasons for why a work situation is toxic. Don’t make it personal if it isn’t.

Know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

As horrible as your situation was, you will get your confidence back and you will learn from it. 

It doesn’t feel like a positive experience right now but you might:

  • Decide to change careers
  • Start setting up a business (Check my review of Pop Up Business School and their free resources  here
  • Realise you want to be part of a small start-up instead of a big corporate (or vice versa)
  • Choose to reduce your hours. Either through going for a part-time job or becoming a consultant.

Any of these could lead to you looking back and thinking, “if I hadn’t worked in that soul-desecrating hell-job, I never would have done X and I am much happier now”.

Know that no one else could cope with the hours you are putting in either.

There is always a price to pay. You don’t know what is going on in their lives. Never seeing kids, on brink of divorce, sobbing into their wine every night.

Dig deeper below the surface of the so-called ‘superwoman’ (or man) and you realise there is always something that they are giving up in order to be at work all the time.

Listen to your body

If you are knackered beyond belief and want to go to bed at 8pm. Do it! 

When we have a proper amount of sleep, the world seems so much easier to deal with than when we don’t.

If you are weary, tearful, stressed, wanna see people, don’t wanna see people, whatever it is, your body is telling you something, so listen to it.

See a therapist

There is no shame in this and can be an enormous help to getting your confidence back. It’s incredibly common and even if people don’t talk about, I bet lots of people you know have been.

In the UK, you may be able to get appointments on the NHS if you see your Doctor first.

And finally,

In all honesty, it takes a while and you need to keep chipping away at it. There isn’t one magic solution.

If you read a self-help book, you might take on 10-20% of it, doing yoga once a week might help relax you a bit, listening to guided meditation might help you sleep better.

Slowly you’ll notice that you feel a bit stronger, able to cope a bit better and generally feel less broken.

If you are in a toxic situation at work, realistically you won’t fully put all the pieces back together until you leave. But, if that is not an option right now, then do whatever you can to get your confidence up until you can.

Are you in a toxic situation at work? Have you tried any of the above suggestions to boost your confidence and have they helped?


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About the Author

Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)