Coping With Job Loss
Unexpected Job Loss
As of March, 18th 2020 the US government officials are concerned that due to COVID-19 US unemployment could reach 20%. State unemployment websites have crashed as applications surge, leaving job seekers coping with job loss amidst a sea of questions.
Unexpected job loss is something many Americans are either currently experiencing or are concerned with.
If you recently lost your job, you are not alone. This is happening to many people in the US and globally. After losing your job your mind might go immediately to main concerns like loss of finances and security. This is understandable. I encourage you while balancing serious concerns, to also be open to finding some perspective in this experience. It is possible for you to successfully manage this sensitive time in your life.
As an Online Career Counselor & Coach, I work often with people who unexpectedly find themselves jobless and feeling like their world has just been turned upside-down. When you suddenly lose employment you can start to question everything that you felt secure in previously. If these negative thoughts are left unmanaged, you could suffer long-term issues of self-image, confidence, hypervigilance, and increased anxiety.
For those who find themselves jobless, you are not doomed to a life of suffering. Instead, you actually have a lot of power in this experience, but you have to be willing to use it. You can recover and more importantly, you can thrive again.
How to Cope with Unexpected Job Loss
Slow Down and Process the Emotions
“A Plan B life can be just as good or better than a Plan A life.” – Shannon Alder
So much of coping with an unexpected job loss is letting go of what we thought our life was supposed to look like. We plan our lives based around the ideals of a career, and when we lose this pillar in our life we can feel lost.
It’s okay to feel disappointed, stunned, sad, and confused. This is completely normal. Life rarely goes according to plan, even when we really want it to. Allow yourself time to grieve this loss. That’s healthy. What’s not healthy is allowing the loss to overcome you; to turn job loss into a broader statement around who you are as a person.
By giving yourself time to process the feelings of loss and understanding your anxieties, you can open yourself up to being more honest with all of your feelings. Instead of feeling only fear and anxiety about your job loss, you can start opening up to seeing the bigger picture.
This job loss might have had nothing to do with you, rather it was an outcome of economics, poor management, or a million other reasons. The main point here is to be honest in how you are evaluating your circumstances.
If there is something you think you could have done to improve – be honest with yourself. If there is something you had no control over – be honest about that too. Giving yourself compassion with your emotional experience is an important part of building trust within yourself.
Create a Timeline, Prepare, and Adjust Behaviorally
If I could give you one piece of advice – it would be: take a couple of days off. Take time away from ruminating about what happened or what your next steps are going to be. Slow down for a moment in time before you collect yourself to get back on your journey. This would be a perfect time to take a rest stop.
This can be hard for some who define themselves by their career. You can feel a strong urge to attach yourself to a new job as soon as possible. But making rash decisions due to anxiety can impact your career longer-term. Not only could you find yourself in a career path that you don’t enjoy, but you’ll also be enforcing the concept that you don’t have control in your career. Rather, you are making decisions based on fears. This will keep you functioning at your lowest level – survival.
After you take a break, ground yourself in your timeline. Ask yourself how you can best position yourself to get through this career rut, as well as how to launch yourself into your successful career future. This might mean you take time to fully evaluate your current career path. What are you willing to change? What are you not willing to compromise in your career?
Lastly, be an informed worker. Take a look at Occupational Outlook Handbook website. This website offers information on most careers and is an invaluable resource when researching aspects of a career including salary ranges, educational experience required, and details of what to expect on the job.
If you need more support you can also work with a Career Coach who will guide you through your experiences and interests to help you find a career path you feel most aligns with who you see yourself as.
Check-in Mentally, Encourage an Empowered Mindset
If there is one thing we could all probably agree on, it’s that things change. And if there’s one thing I know as a Licensed Professional Counselor, it’s that people don’t like change.
When change occurs, especially when we don’t have control over it, we can feel resistant to accepting the new norms. The longer we take to accept the reality of change, the longer we stay stuck. If you can accept that things are no longer going back to the way they were, the quicker you can make adaptations to prepare yourself for your future.
One way to do this is by checking in with the way in which you are framing the situation in your head (aka your self-talk). If your self-talk is repeatedly framing your situation in a disempowered/resistant mindset – you most likely will stay trapped in the resistance, making movements forward feel extremely difficult.
I invite you to allow yourself to be empowered while jobless. Try to reframe your thoughts to be surrounded around opportunity and new chances rather than fears as you begin coping with job loss.
For instance, a disempowered/resistant mindset looks like this:
“What’s the point of looking for something, no one’s hiring.”
By listening to this thought, you are choosing to believe that anything new is not sufficient. The new norm could never be as good as the past.
A healthy, empowered mindset looks like this:
“I’m going to see what opportunities are out there for me. I’m not sure what’s out there but if there is something, it will be me who finds it.”
By choosing to take the empowered approach you are being honest about what you don’t know yet and what you are willing to do to figure out how to adapt. It’s not overly optimistic or pessimistic – rather it’s based in reality and your will to try and find your way in unknown territory.
You are not alone. There is no need to feel shame. You can recover.
Wishing you success,
Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC
Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC mission is to help you create authentic happiness and satisfaction in your life, your relationships, and your career. She supports you to create a deeper connection with others, find clarity and direction, and actualize your life’s purpose.
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