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Rebuilding Confidence After Working in a Toxic Environment

09 Aug 00:00 By Lawrence Akers

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The creative industry is a fascinating, yet demanding field, filled with ebbs and flows of inspiration, challenge, and triumph. However, the very forces that drive the spark of creativity can also lead to conditions where toxicity can fester. In my years as a recruitment consultant, I've guided many talented individuals through the complex psychological terrain that follows working in a toxic environment. Today, we'll explore how to rebuild confidence, and why it's essential for your career in the creative industry.

Understanding a Toxic Environment

Before diving into the rebuilding process, we must first understand what constitutes a toxic environment. A toxic environment can build from a handful of different factors.

These might include anything from:

  • personality clashes and harmful employees

  • lack of training, support, and poor leadership

  • lack of recognition and favouritism

  • unhealthy communication and gossip

  • a corrupt culture

The Dynamics of Creativity and Conflict

Creativity thrives in collaboration, but sometimes, disagreements and power struggles can lead to an atmosphere of tension, mistrust, and stress. Analyzing these dynamics can provide the foundational understanding needed to foster personal growth.

Strategies to Rebuild Confidence

Embrace the Learning Experience

Rather than dwelling on the negative experience, I encourage you to view it as a learning opportunity. We're all inevitably going to have challenging experiences during our lives, and not just within the workplace. Being able to utilise the experience as an opportunity to refine what you don't want won't change what you had to go through (or are going through), but will at least offer some learning or insight from it. You've emerged stronger and more aware of what you need in a working environment.

Acceptance and Reflection

Accepting what has happened is the first step in recovery and healing. Reflect on your experience without judgment, understanding what went wrong and recognising your resilience. Sometimes, journaling or discussing your feelings with a mental health professional can be therapeutic, especially if you're finding that the experience has left you feeling high stress levels, poor self-esteem, or depression.

Set Clear Goals

Identifying what you want from your next job will guide you towards a more fulfilling career path. Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based) goals to map out your next steps. Reaching out to a recruitment consultant at this point could be beneficial as they can help, at the minimum, offer advice to help achieve your goal.

Create a Supportive Network

Human connection is a fundamental aspect of mental well-being. Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or professional networks that understand the unique demands of the creative industry.


Consider seeking a mentor who has faced similar challenges. The wisdom and encouragement from someone who has been there can be a transformative experience, and their experience may help you to consider what your next steps need to be.

Build Your Skills and Portfolio

Proactively developing your skills and portfolio can be empowering. Whether it's a new course, personal project, or freelance work, these actions can reinforce your belief in your abilities.

Moving Forward with Optimism

Choose the Right Opportunities

Utilise your experience and newfound understanding of your needs to choose your next role wisely. Your future employer's values and culture should align with your own.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Never underestimate the importance of mental health in the creative process. Regularly practicing mindfulness, exercise, or engaging in hobbies can be restorative.

Rebuilding confidence after working in a toxic environment is a journey filled with opportunities for growth and self-discovery. The creative industry may present unique challenges, but it also offers unique rewards. With the right strategies, support, and mindset, you can transform a painful experience into a springboard for success.

As your guide through this multifaceted process, I'm here to assist with the job-seeking aspect as well as offering some guidance on how to deal with these challenging environments. Feel free to reach out with any questions. The pathway to a more fulfilling career awaits, and I'm confident that you have the strength and talent to walk it with grace.