You did not think that you would ever be handed a pink slip. You noticed some warning signs, but you put your head in the sand. You had considered jumping ship while you still had a job. You heard many of the rumors that your company was merging with another. You have been with the company for 12 years and you feel confident that all senior executives like yourself will retain their nice, cushy jobs after the merger.
At 9:25 you were the Executive Director of Business Development and entering a meeting to share your weekly report with the president. At 9:30 you were unemployed. What? You have been working your heart out for them and getting the boot is your reward for your hard work and loyalty?
You are feeling like crap and wondering how to deal with this blow. Will you be able to find another job quickly? How will you pay your bills? Your mind is probably racing with thoughts like these. Some people are relieved when they lose their jobs; however, most people who lose their jobs are feeling badly in light of one of life's biggest stressors. What you go through after job loss is similar to the stages of grief. You may not feel all of the following feelings and the stages may show up in a different order:
- Shock. What the bleep?
- Denial. This can’t be happening.
- Anger. I do not deserve this.
- Depression. This is a very painful weight on me.
- Acceptance. I am starting to feel a wee bit more positive about my future.
Chances are you will find another job. And there is also the chance that you could lose one again.
One of the most unsettling parts about being laid off is that you feel like a victim. Something outside of your control occurred and you are unemployed through no fault of your own. You know realize that your livelihood is in the hands of other people and you cannot trust them to do right by you. If you measure your self-worth by what you do for a living rather than of who you are, the loss of your job might feel like a mortal blow to your core.
While your lay off may feel that you are a powerless victim, you actually are in total control of what happens next because you choose your responses to being laid off:
- You can be overwhelmed by grief, depression, and anger. Or not.
- You can stew in resentment for how badly you were treated and report how tough it is out there in an attempt to make yourself feel better. Or not.
- You can be worried about how you will manage to make it until you land another job, and dreading a lengthy, difficult job search. Or not.
In order for you to during this period of transition, you must be aware of your thoughts, feelings and words and change them from negative to positive. Whatever you focus on, especially with feeling, is going to "demonstrate" in your life whether you want it to or not. Negative thoughts produce demonstrations that mirror them and positive thoughts produce demonstrations that mirror them.
If you gripe about how your life sucks because you were laid off, it will suck for as long as you talk about it sucking. If you worry about running out of funds, you will run out of funds. If you complain how difficult it is for you to get another job, it will be difficult for you to get another job. Because you choose your thoughts, you choose the demonstrations you create. You can create the kind of demonstrations you want and minimize or eliminate those you do not want simply by changing your thinking. Don't allow your conditions to dictate your feelings.
You probably are not feeling very positive right now. That is okay but work on changing your thinking sooner rather than later so that your life will change for the better sooner. A great way that I have found to shift my thinking from negative to positive is to be grateful for all that I have because I cannot feel poorly when I am grateful about something.
Consider creating a gratitude journal and each day for a month write down at least 10 new things you are grateful for without duplicates. Start with the obvious: family and friends, the food in your refrigerator, the roof over your head, etc. By the end of the second week, you will be grateful for things you never noticed before, such as a lovely view from your window. By the end of the fourth week, you will be grateful for things that a month ago you never imagined, such as the experience you gained from your job. You may even be grateful for being let go because you are now available to new possibilities you hadn't considered before.
To your surprise, you realize that most of your negative feelings about being laid off are gone. You no longer attend an unemployment support group because everyone there talks about how poorly they feel and, in spite of everything, you are actually feeling pretty good. And because you are feeling good, you experience demonstrations of that: the telephone rings, people want to see you, doors open wide for you and before you know it, you are in control of your life.
Be sure to check out the 12 Days to #KissCorporateGoodbye Stimulus series.