Have you ever worked in a toxic work environment?

I have. Here’s my story and how I dealt with my own toxic work environment.

How I Stepped Back From a Toxic Work Environment

Not one more day. That’s what I told myself one afternoon while listening to the worries of colleagues. I’d listen to them go on about their challenging children, about whether they’d get promoted, about their health, about high bills and low financial means. 

And then one day it dawned on me that I had a choice to no longer engage or encourage this spiral of negativity, anxiety, and helplessness.

The old me would nod empathetically as people complained and then take home that negative vibe unknowingly. I’d find myself exhausted because I wanted to be a good person and do the right thing by being a caring friend who listened, but my high level of tolerance continued to magnetize the victims, the complainers, the martyrs, and the blamers. 

Finally, I caught myself doing the very thing I witnessed in others, telling the same dramatic story to the same co-worker. 

I realized I had become … a follower. 

A follower of fear. A follower of doubt. A follower of negativity. I had become exactly what I found draining in others.

And no surprise, this carried forward into my home. I’d try to improve my mindset and then slip right back into the same old patterns. I didn’t know how to change it, and my relationship with my husband and kids deteriorated because of it.

I began to ask myself, “How do we break free of toxic work and home environments and our own toxicity? How do we rise above it all and still do the work we love and were born to do and be the parents and partners we yearn to be?”

After a divorce, dissolving a business partnership, and losing friends, I was determined to discover an answer to these questions. I have found it can be summed up in one word: 


When I’m speaking at an event, I speak about the importance of consistency, and how if you stay consistent with only two or three daily practices, your reality starts to shift and you begin to create a new reality you know deep down is possible. 

It’s time to take control of your reality. Here are three powerful practices that will support you to do just that.

Three Ways to Stay Consistent and Step Back From a Toxic Work Environment

1. Step Back From the Toxic Environment of the Mind by Observing It

Don’t judge it or try to change it, just observe it. Start first thing in the morning, 5 minutes in the afternoon and 10 minutes at night. 

By setting a timer and being consciously aware of how often your mind wanders into negativity, doubt, and fear, you can begin to understand that stilling the mind is critical to unraveling the web of toxicity. For now, just notice the thoughts and gradually increase the amount of time you spend being the witness to your thoughts.

For more on this topic, you can purchase The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs here.

2. Be Curious About the Words and Actions of Others 

As you witness your thoughts about others or what they are saying, stay open to seeing the story behind the story. 

In other words, become present to the wound the person carries instead of getting drawn into the toxic elements of their complaining, blaming and judging or other negative thoughts and behaviours. 

By seeing what is really going on for others, you can remove yourself from the toxicity and simply see it for what it is…a call for love.

3. Ask the Golden Question (For Self and Others)

To make sure you are not enabling the victim pattern in others and not rescuing them with your empathy, simply ask this question each time they venture into negativity: 

“So what are you going to do about it?” 

By asking this lovingly challenging question, you draw the person you are connecting with into a solution-driven mode. If the person needs to feel the emotion of something for the first time, encourage them to feel it, but after it is felt in the body, bring them back to the question at hand. 

This one practice can be used to shift mindsets and productivity, making a workplace a happy and desirable place to be.

Practice these things, and be the change in your organization. One influential person who has practiced being lovingly removed from toxicity can shift company culture and feelings of well-being. It only takes one. Let it be you.

For more tips on how to be more positive, check out this blog post.

For more information and to understand how to create a more positive impact and influence in the world while tending to your inner world and personal power, please visit www.KarenMcGregor.com and pick up a copy of my latest book, The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs.

I also invite you to get in touch with me to continue conversations about how you can be a positive influencer in a world full of anxiety. You can also take a look at the programs I offer that can help you learn more about incremental change and what you can do to enhance your influence and impact for your family, community, and globally

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