If you lived long enough to know job loss than you also know the emotional roller coaster ride that follows. The ease in which you go through this phase is for the most part dependent on whether you initiated the change or the company made the decision for you. If losing your job was involuntary then a whole host of feelings could rise to the surface.
1. Denial: Even if you knew something might be coming your way it is quite common to cast those thoughts off to the side. Everyone of us probably would rather dance with denial than face the bigger question about what comes next. Denial has its place in the process, mainly as part of the coping strategy. We can only take on so much and sometimes it seems prudent to just take on what we can moment to moment.
2. Anger: When something feels like it is totally out of our control, things can get a little heated. You might be angry towards your employer but you could also resent fellow colleagues. Anger can feel powerful but it is also the revealer. As you walk through the fire it connects you to the deepest part of your pain and confusion. It is intensely personal and sometimes we need outside assistance just to understand all that is being said and felt.
3. Bargaining: This tool is pulled out of the box to deal with uncertainty. This is where you may try saying ”Maybe if I do…” or “Is there some way we can come to an agreement on…” Possibly you rehash your work days trying to look for things you could have done differently to prevent this outcome. Circling in reflective resistance you get stuck in an endless loop of “What if I…” You are stuck in neutral and at some point you must shift into drive. Bargaining your way through the past is keeping you from accepting the reality and certainly doesn’t make way for the future. Plus it’s really tiring.
4. Depression: Speaking of tired, depression is not uncommon with people who have just lost their jobs. I want you to know that the shock, worry and self-doubt can catch up with you and sadness can take over. You may experience a sense of failure and other deep feelings to which you respond by wanting to pull the covers over your head and hope nobody can find you. This is normal, as you have experienced a loss and depending on the investment you made in your job it can really hit home. Many people have been conditioned to avoid this phase by taking medication or other substances but depression is a necessary step in healing. You have a right to your feelings and taking time to acknowledge their existence and find support to work through them, is the best gift you can give yourself. Be open to learning about all parts of yourself including the seemingly ugly side; you will be stronger.
5. Acceptance: When you accept your job loss it doesn’t mean you need to be fine with it. I think we can all agree that there is always some residual effects from hearing you are fired or laid off. What acceptance means is that you can start to explore again, maybe try new things, take a bit of risk and begin to see the wisdom in starting again. You can free up valuable personal resources to invest in others, especially those that can help you take necessary steps towards new job prospects, further education or developing new interests. Make a conscious effort not to take your negative emotions with you to your next opportunity. Move out-of-the-way of yourself and try to trust again.
Let me tell you the one thing I have learned after countless hours counselling people in the area of career development…everyone has transferable skills! You may not be feeling it yet or even know what they are but there is more to explore and you have more to give. When you reach the point where you can take that next step towards a new job or new adventure, you can pull from your life experiences and professional expertise.
Often that which challenges us the most became the mirror that showed us just how special we are.
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