How to Cope with Guilt after Quitting a Toxic Job

How to Cope with Guilt after Quitting a Toxic Job

So you finally quit your toxic job! You might be feeling unsteady, anxious, and maybe even fearful, especially if you were in the toxic situation for a long time.

While I was at my old job, I often had thoughts like, “Why can’t I do this?” or “My coworkers can handle this, so why can’t I?” I was surprised to discover that these thoughts continued even after I had quit my job. Even though I was extremely relieved to get out of a situation that made me miserable, I felt guilty for not being able to power through it, push my feelings aside, and perform well.

I’ve talked at length about why I quit my toxic job, but I haven’t discussed any of the shame or guilt I’ve felt even months after the fact. These feelings don’t just apply to jobs– it can be any toxic situation that you left behind, such as a friendship, relationship, etc. but since my most recent encounter was my own toxic job, I’ll be discussing this topic in reference to quitting a job.

How to cope with guilt after quitting a toxic job!

How to Cope with Guilt after Quitting a Toxic Job

Remember why you left.

While I don’t recommend sitting around and reminiscing about all the bad things about the job you left, it can be helpful to come up with some affirmations you can repeat to yourself so you don’t feel like leaving was a mistake. Here’s a few I say to myself often:

  • “I was being treated poorly in that situation.”
  • “I am in a much healthier place now.”
  • “I deserve a work environment where I am treated with dignity and respect.”

Give yourself some time.

When I quit my job, I didn’t have another one lined up. I just put in my two-week notice, worked my last two weeks, and left. On my last day, the company was hosting a big job fair, so none of upper management or HR said anything to me when I left. I still don’t know if that was good or bad (I’m leaning towards good though).

It was so surreal that I didn’t have to go back that I didn’t know how to react. My body had become accustomed to feeling anxious and jittery because of work, so I was still in a constant state of fear. My confidence was ruined, and I thought I was a terrible employee. My stomach would turn if I had to drive by my old building. I worried about what I would do if I ran into my former coworkers somewhere, if they were gossiping about me now that I’d quit, or if they were disappointed in me. My sleeping schedule is still not totally back to normal.

As much as I wanted to bounce back quickly after leaving that job, healing isn’t always fast and it isn’t always linear.

Remind yourself that you’re strong.

It took me a long time to muster up the strength to quit my toxic job. I honestly knew I didn’t like it in the first week or so, but it wasn’t until about three months in when I knew I wanted to quit. However, it took me another four months to actually do that.

Giving yourself permission to leave any toxic situation takes a lot of strength. Realizing that you are allowed to quit a situation that is harming you is a strength in itself. Don’t forget that.

You have no way of knowing someone else’s complete situation.

Remember when I said I felt like I was the only one who couldn’t handle the job? I convinced myself that was true and that I was a failure… when in reality, I had no true basis for those feelings! I had no idea if my coworkers could handle our job or even liked our job. Honestly… even if I was the only person in the entire building who was unhappy to be there (but I guarantee you I wasn’t), it wouldn’t have mattered.

Basically, the point I am trying to get across is that just because someone else seems happy, it doesn’t mean they actually are happy and it doesn’t mean you “should” be happy.

I hope this post was helpful for those of you who are considering quitting your toxic job! If you’ve ever quit a toxic job, let’s talk about it in the comments!

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  1. January 26, 2019 / 3:53 pm

    I’ve not come across this topic yet, so thank you for sharing! I’m so glad you did what was right for you – one job I was in only lasted a month and a half but it made me feel horrible. I instantly felt better once I left! There are plenty of opportunities for growth elsewhere ❤️

    • Jackie
      January 27, 2019 / 1:38 am

      I’m glad you left your toxic job too! <3 It's hard but so worth it. Thanks for reading!

  2. Geraldine
    January 26, 2019 / 7:57 pm

    This was so good Jackie! It’s so easy to feel guilty about leaving a toxic job. I feel like it’s almost like the same relationship with abusive relationships..only this is a work relationship LOL! I probably feel guilty more than anything because I know my family and relatives know about what I did and I probably look like a failure in their eyes. It’s hard, but they don’t realize how they treated you. Nobody deserves to be abused, despite all the money you may get!

    • Jackie
      January 27, 2019 / 1:40 am

      It’s definitely got a similar dynamic to an abusive relationship, for sure! I also worried about my family judging me, but I think I was so outwardly unhappy that they knew quitting was the way to go. No job is worth the money if you’re unhappy… it’s a hard lesson though!

  3. January 28, 2019 / 3:55 pm

    I couldn’t agree with this anymore if I tried! I have been in this situation and I really struggled with guilt for a long time. I wish I had been able to read your post back then so thank you for sharing!

    Ashleigh x

    • Jackie
      January 28, 2019 / 10:07 pm

      I feel like not enough people discuss this! Thank you for reading!

  4. January 30, 2019 / 1:32 pm

    I’ve never been in a toxic job (and hopefully will never!!!) but this post was great and surely really helpful for the people out there in the same situation so thanks for sharing xx

    Anaïs |

    • Jackie
      January 30, 2019 / 6:07 pm

      I hope you’re never in a toxic job either!! Thanks for reading!

  5. January 30, 2019 / 7:01 pm

    I loved this post! I was kind of in a toxic place in all aspects of my life (work, my relationship) last fall, and I just stepped away from all of it. While I did feel a lot of relief from leaving it all behind, it was easy to feel lost and frustrated as I didn’t know what to next. I also had to give up a bit of my freedom/independence and move back in with my parents. Overall, though, I’m glad I decided to leave! It took some time, but now I think I’m on the right track. I have a part-time job that respects my other priorities, and I will be starting up classes soon.
    Thanks for sharing, I’m glad we both left our toxic jobs behind! 🙂

    Melissa //

    • Jackie
      January 30, 2019 / 9:27 pm

      I’m glad you got away from those situations. It’s definitely hard to find your footing after leaving toxic situations like that but I always think leaving is worth it. I’m glad you got a part-time job that allows you some freedom, and I hope your classes go well. Thanks for reading!

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