Losing a job is one of the biggest knocks that a person can take in their lives. It can cause them to question themselves on so many levels. Why did it happen? Why them and not others? How are they going to cope? How do they need to change? What is wrong with them?
That last question is the killer for most people.
The feelings of inadequacy after a job loss can be mentally and physically debilitating. More than once I have felt utterly worthless and hopelessly lost because of a setback in my career. You don’t want to talk about it as it somehow makes it worse; you want to bottle up all the fears, and hope in vain that time will provide a solution.
Don’t let it consume you. You must talk to a close friend or relative about your worries. Otherwise, it is an extremely slippery slope. You are never alone.
Sara: “I feel lost Paul. I am scared that if I don’t change something that this will happen again and again. Maybe I need a totally new direction? In the last couple of months, I have felt helplessly out of control. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I used to be so sure of myself.”
Me: “I understand Sara. Listen, don’t be so hard on yourself. The company had a change in strategy, but that doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. Your skillset wasn’t a fit for them anymore, but there are loads of places that would love to have someone like you on their team.”
Sara: “ I’m not sure that I can ever be successful again. I can’t remember the last time I felt good about myself at work.”
Me: “People feel good when they feel that they are making a difference. Maybe you need to think about what you truly enjoy doing in your job and find some more suitable companies for your skillset? The SME market is hugely vibrant in your space. A shift of perspective can often help.”
Sara: “That’s a risk isn’t it? Maybe I should just set my sights lower? I’m not sure if I have the energy to think about a change.”
Me: “ Listen, stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know that it still hurts, but just try to put that to one side. This is a chance to reassess everything. I’m here to talk things through. I believe in you babe. You’ve done some amazing things in your career, and there is no reason why you won’t do them again. It is a little hard to believe at the moment, I understand, that is only natural.”
Sara: “I know, I know. I think that I just need a hug. Thanks for believing in me Paul. Don’t let me opt for second best. I want to, but I know I’ll regret it later. You’re a good friend.”
Me: “Promise me that you won’t stop believing. It is so easy to lose faith when times get tough. I’m your main cheerleader. Get out there and make it happen.”
It is hard to deal with these feelings alone, but this conversation could equally be one that you are having with yourself. When the going gets tough, try to find that strong little warrior inside you, the indomitable spirit which will never be defeated….
It is there within us all, and it always answers our call.