When my job loss first happened, I went silent for an hour or so. Then I told my husband. Then, I called a close friend. Talking about it made me cry. It helped me source the anger I was feeling.
After telling my story to five or six close friends over the next week, I realized that the themes in my story were becoming more apparent:
- I was angry that I had no chance to improve or change the situation.
- I felt wrongly accused and judged.
- I felt less-than, because I was singled out.
- I was angry with myself because I had become so dependent on this job for both my financial and emotional pay.
Each person I talked to brought me closer to the truth and to healing. Each person had a different perspective that made it all easier to understand. Here are some of the ideas they brought to me that helped:
“Everything happens for a reason.” Hearing this isn’t a lot of comfort. Weeks later, however, I realized that this job loss freed my time and schedule to take on some new exciting things. These volunteer activities are beginning to create some business opportunities. A job loss does open up time and energy.
“If you don’t get fired once in a while, you’re probably not doing a great job.” – Perhaps it’s OK to bring new ideas into the organization and occasionally push the organization in a little different direction. Perhaps your style or ideas just didn’t fit their model.
“You are the same person you were before this. They haven’t taken anything away from you.” Now, that was something to contemplate. Why did I feel so bereft when I had all my experience, talent and abilities, just as before? Probably because I was counting on that income, in the future. The job loss forced me to change and change quickly. It’s uncomfortable to be forced into a change.
“It’s not about talent or performance or effort, it’s about alignment.” I realized that I was a little “off” in my attitude and speech. I realized I really wanted to be in a place where I would be appreciated. A cactus can’t thrive in a swamp. It’s about finding the place that is a better match for you, your skills, your values, and your experience.
So, during the first few weeks after a job loss, I invite you to talk, talk, talk. As you bring your pain into dialogue, you are going to find friends and family who not only support you, but who can help you interpret what has happened and give you the keys to move forward.
Journaling is powerful, too. Give yourself permission to wallow a bit in your loss and grief. Write furiously about your loss. Write the thoughts you are afraid to say out loud. When you see the ideas on paper, you will likely see that you are dramatizing a bit. Then, print them out and burn them.
Wallow a bit in order to get over it all. When you are tired of your own story of woe, you know you are ready to put that energy into job seeking.