Is a Toxic Mindset Affecting Your Work Performance?

If you find yourself frequently thinking negatively at work, then you may have a toxic mindset about your job. Though it’s easy to blame certain people or situations as the source of your workplace misery, it’s important to examine whether your own thought patterns and emotions might be setting the tone for your experience with your boss and colleagues. This self reflection is important to help you feel better at work and ensure that your work performance is solid.

If you’re not sure whether a toxic mindset might be tainting your workday, ask yourself the following four questions and try the strategies below to change your perspective to a more positive one.

[READ: 8 Tips for Coping With Work-Related Anxiety.]

Are you overly influenced by what colleagues think of you?

There’s no way around it — not everyone is going to like you at work. If you are a people pleaser and approval seeker in your professional life, this may be a tough pill to swallow. But beware of this toxic habit; don’t put so much stake in other people’s opinion of you and your work style that you become frozen by fear of taking risks and being creative.

If you notice your mind getting hijacked by rumination about co-workers or workplace politics, consider that professional jealousy or a night of little sleep may be what’s behind someone’s critiques about your latest project rather than a vendetta against you.

Are your expectations of others too high?

Whether it’s expecting your boss to read your mind about your desire for a promotion, or wanting your cube mate to ask you out to lunch more often, sometimes your own issues can keep you stuck in toxic thinking that hampers your office relationships.

For example, maybe you’re the type of person who, if made a supervisor, would always acknowledge your employees’ progress with recognition — but your manager never seems to notice your achievements. Or maybe you think of yourself as a thoughtful person who would never forget a colleague’s birthday — yet those on your team have never acknowledged yours. If this sounds familiar, consider whether you’re projecting your own preferences onto the people around you.

[READ: 10 Types of Annoying Co-Workers and How to Deal With Them.]

Are you drawn toward gossip, negativity and complaints?

Sometimes it isn’t what you do that determines how you feel at work, it’s with whom you interact. If you often find yourself drawn toward gripers, gossipers or generally negative people, it can be hard to stay positive. Think about whether you’re most often spending time with people at work who are keeping you stuck in a negative mindset and habits.

You may think that no one will notice, but give your boss and colleagues some credit — they’re likely aware that you’re misusing your time by complaining, which can lead to missed opportunities when you aren’t seen as a top performer or a preferred project partner. What’s more, by focusing on everything that’s wrong in the office or on people who bug you, you tend to fixate on these problems rather than solve them.

Are you putting an unreasonable amount of pressure on yourself?

No matter how hard you work and how much you do to try to be successful, there’s only so much of your job that you can control. Placing too much pressure on yourself to be perfect or produce stellar results is as toxic a mental strategy as pressuring others too much.

[READ: Red Flags That You Have Too Much Stress at Work.]

Tips to Improve Your Work Performance

To avoid losing sleep and a strong performance review to toxic thought patterns, take the steps below, which can help keep your mental landscape clear and enable your ability to do your best work.

If you’re feeling burned out, try this:

Seek a company that offers wellness resources. Of the 200 companies that U.S. News & World Report has researched, 23% offer wellness resources. Here are some examples:

EA offers holistic health resources including mental health resources and employee resource groups.

Meta offers a wellness reimbursement program that gives more flexibility to reimburse expenses that support well-being. Eligible employees can be reimbursed up to $3,000 each calendar year for eligible expenses.

HubSpot offers more than healthy snack options and workspaces. According to the company’s website, “HubSpot offers fitness reimbursement, nutrition consultations, and workshops on mindfulness, stress management, and more.”

If you are overly influenced by what colleagues think of you, try this:

Recognize when you’re starting to overthink, and try to nip it in the bud before you lose focus on what’s important: feeling good while you do great work. If you find yourself becoming more focused on others’ opinions of you instead of being yourself and doing your work, then it’s time for an attitude adjustment. Evaluate what people at work say and how they react to you, then form your own opinions about which comments have merit and which don’t. If you’re going to succeed in your career, you need to develop the strength of character to move forward in the face of detractors rather than internalizing criticism and letting it hold you back.

If your expectations of others are too high, try this: Situations at work can be hurtful, but not if you don’t take them to heart: take a step back and see if the actions of others are truly egregious, or if they just don’t match what you would have done. If you find yourself frequently disappointed by what others do or don’t do at work, change this negative mindset by recognizing when your expectations are out of bounds.

If you are drawn toward gossip, negativity and complaints, try this:

There’s only one solution to this one, and it’s simple but not always easy. Walk away from any and all sources of negativity before you get swept up in them. While it may be uncomfortable to shift your alliances to more positive ones, it will help your attitude and career in the long run.

If you are putting an unreasonable amount of pressure on yourself, try this: Instead of unhealthily trying to exert control over areas of your work that continue to elude you, focus on keeping your feelings positive and do the best you can to eliminate negative thoughts.

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Is a Toxic Mindset Affecting Your Work Performance? originally appeared on

Update 06/24/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been published with new information.

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