Toxic Thoughts And Self-Defeating Actions That Hold Back Your Career

Toxic Thoughts And Self-Defeating Actions That Hold Back Your Career




By Jack Kelly


It’s easy to blame your annoying, overbearing boss and insipid, backstabbing co-workers for your misery at work. 

You’ve switched jobs hoping that the grass would be greener on the other side, except now the new lawn is brown and the trees are barren. Nothing has changed. You’re still unhappy. Your boss is a jerk. Your co-workers have cliques and you don’t feel like you belong.

You can point to everyone and everything as the cause of your career stagnation. Some of the reasons may be valid. However, if this continues happening for a couple of years at various companies, you may want to rethink your blame game. 

It’s possible that just maybe a new job isn’t the answer to your unhappiness at work. You may want to look inwardly. Perhaps, you’re the source of your own misery. 

It’s a very common thing. You get stuck in a downward spiral of negativity. Your boss angrily lectures you about something stupid, you missed out on a promotion, less deserving people are bypassing you and on the fast track toward success and a sure-thing interview didn’t work out. This puts you in a negative mood. You start feeling bitter and resentful. You take it out on everyone around you. After a while, they’re tired of hearing your complaints and move on.

It’s evident to everyone else, except perhaps you, that you are in a career, mental and emotional tailspin. Before you start looking for another new job or try to obtain a promotion within your company, you need to engage in some cold, hard and critical introspection. Look at what you are doing. Analyze your actions, thoughts and beliefs. Start deeply considering what you’re thinking and doing. 

Here’s a checklist to help you get started:

  • Are you helping or hindering your own career trajectory by your actions and thoughts?
  • What are you really doing at work?
  • Are you busy for the sake of being busy or actually getting things accomplished?
  • Do you strive for perfection rather than achieving results?
  • Do you permit others to control your destiny?
  • Are you valuing your self-worth based on other people’s opinions?
  • Have you allowed past failures to make you afraid of taking on new opportunities?
  • Do you feel that you don’t deserve success?
  • Do negative thoughts constantly run through your mind without trying to take control over them?
  • Have you tied your career to a bad mentor or boss who couldn’t care less about you?
  • Do you openly complain about things without trying to make things better?
  • Is there an obsession about money, as opposed to a focus on how you can learn, take on new challenges and advance your career?
  • Do you think short term or long term?
  •  Is there a focus on the perceived status of your firm instead of what you are doing and learning at the company?
  • Have you aligned yourself with co-workers who feed into your negativity and bring you down?


If you feel and act this way, it’s time to break the cycle. You’ve already taken the first step by reading this piece. It all starts with recognizing that you’ve created harmful habits. The second step is to start replacing these self-defeating thoughts and actions with positive, self-affirmative actions. Once you remove toxic thoughts and behavior, you can really begin to drive your career forward. Then, there will be nothing stopping you from reaching your goals and succeeding.




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