No matter how much you anticipated it or how many of your colleagues find themselves in the same situation, losing your job due to downsizing, restructuring or any other reason can be a shattering experience. In fact, psychologists agree that sudden unemployment is as emotionally stressful as divorce or the death of a spouse or parent.
The stress is magnified if you are your family’s principal income earner, making it a double-barrelled blow to both your ego and your security. The approach to dealing with it is to take action not only in looking for new employment but in restoring other aspects of your life.
Here’s how to get started:
Accept and understand your emotions.
You have a right to grieve, feel anger, and recognize that you’re depressed. Give yourself time to acknowledge these feelings and share them with your spouse or trusted advisor or pastor. Then promise each other to move beyond them and take charge of your lives.
Reduce your expenses.
Talk to creditors about extending loan periods and reducing monthly payments. Set a tight household budget and stick to it.
Share the facts with your children.
Don’t try to hide the situation from them. Gently explain what has occurred and that some changes are being made for a while – you may not leave the house at the same time each workday, or you may not be able to afford some things the family had planned. Young children tend to blame themselves for family problems. Assure them that they did nothing wrong, and you will continue to love and protect them.
File for employment insurance and other benefits. This does more than create income; it demonstrates that you are taking charge.
Recall other challenges you overcame. If you faced difficult transition points in the past and handled them well, reflect on how you managed to deal with them successfully, and the inner strength you drew upon. Find ways to apply that strength again.
Seek solace in your inner confidence – and nowhere else. Alcohol and drugs may ease the pain, but they won’t put you back to work. Find strength in your friends and your faith.
Two essential words: Be patient. If you don’t succeed in the first few weeks or months, review your strategy. Is your resume convincing? Can you improve your demeanor. Do you need different references? Do you need to consult an expert for assistance?
Assess your personal strengths and goals. Many people evaluate losing their jobs as a turning point in their lives because it provided an opportunity to pursue a dream of independence or a career shift.
Like many other challenges in life, unemployment focuses our minds on the basics. Family, friends and faith suddenly become more valued than ever, and they are key to sustaining our strength during times such as these. Do not be shy about using them to help yourself and others.