When you ask people to name some of the most stressful times of their lives no doubt unexpected job loss or transition would make the list. However, it is important to realize the emotions, thoughts, and feelings surrounding job loss can be just as intense and life-altering as events such as divorce or the death of a family member. The grief of job loss or transition often go unrecognized and people may not understand one’s difficulties related to this experience. Those who experience job loss may be actively coping with disenfranchised grief.
Therefore, they may be trying to hide the deep emotional impact and toll this change has brought to his or her life.
I recently watched a video from job loss and transition strategist, Tracy Washington, she published back in 2012. She states, “We have never been taught how to lose things we’ve always been taught how to gain things.” In other words, there are plenty of opportunities to help us gain a job including courses on resume writing, career counselors to help us navigate our interests, or countless articles, blogs, or websites. There may also be several workforce service options to help people regain employment, but there are few opportunities to address the emotional part of job loss. For example, there are support groups for loss of a loved one, however, rarely have I heard of such groups for those experiencing job loss or transition. The need is there it is simply ignored!
Another reason job loss and transitions are so stressful is due to the idea there are so many moving parts related to it. Some of these may include but not be limited to the following:
* New fears may present themselves including such things as “What happens now!” “I don’t want to be put into this position again.” or “I don’t know how to do anything else I have done this same job for years.”
* Loss of identity “Who am I now?” “I am nothing” So many individuals make their job a central piece of their self-identity and self-worth. So, when they lose their job, they lose a huge piece of themselves.
* Financial setbacks: There is no longer a steady paycheck or salary. There also may no longer be reasonably priced insurance plans. With these financial losses, there may become a need to explore other financial assistance options if a person is out of work for an extended period of time including unemployment benefits, payment plans for bills, or food banks.
* Any number of feelings related to the job loss including shock, denial, anxiety, embarrassment, sadness, anger, resentment, confusion, etc. Be prepared for the waves of feelings in no particular order and let yourself share, share, share them with others.
* Loss of a support network of coworkers
* Lack of support or understanding from friends and family. When we say things such as “Why are you watching TV you need a job!” or “I wish I had a vacation from working!” we need to realize the impact they can have on someone who is recently out of or transitioning positions. These statements without intending to be are hurtful.
As you embrace the difficulty journey ahead, allow yourself to feel all these emotions and be willing to share them with family and friends. Know you are not the only person in the world to experience this type of loss or transition and you will not be the last. The whole process of job loss or transition is easier to go through if you do not try to navigate it alone. Also, take the time to embrace the other pieces of your identity besides your job. You are for example: A mother, a father, a creator, a good listener, an athlete, a friend, a church member, or a volunteer to name a few.
Remember, your job DOES NOT DEFINE who you are!
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