How to Cope with Being Laid Off
Let’s be honest. Being laid off is hard. Really hard. It may be the most traumatic experience in your professional life. In fact, experts say that the loss of a job can feel like the loss of a loved one. But you will recover. You will survive. Learning to cope with the emotions that accompany the stages of grief can ease you through this life transition.
For many, the initial reaction to being laid off is one of shock. If you never contemplated the possibility of job loss at this time, your head may be spinning. Understandable. Take time to process what has happened and honestly consider how you feel about it.
After the initial shock wears off, anger usually takes over. Resentment and humiliation add fuel to the fire. You want to lash out, act impulsively. Don’t. It is important to maintain a professional relationship with your employer and supervisor. Being a disgruntled former employee will not work to your advantage in your upcoming job search. Channel that anger into a positive outlet, focusing your energy on moving forward and deciding where you want to go from here. Try regular exercise as a way to vent, relieve stress and clear your mind. Use this time as an opportunity to assess your previous employment and honestly reflect on aspects you enjoyed and those you did not.
Your instinct may tell you to go back to your employer and ask for another chance. Promise to do things differently. Anything to keep your job. Don’t. Instead of agonizing over what you could have done to prevent this from happening and groveling for a second chance, accept responsibility for the job search ahead. Think of your future and take ownership of the direction you would like it to take. To quote Alexander Graham Bell, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
In our society, what we do – our “work” – tends to define us. How frequently do we ask someone, “What do you do?” In reality, we are not one-dimensional beings that only do one thing all day or have only one interest in life. But work takes up our time and so it becomes our identity. And loss of that identity can be traumatic. A job gives us a place to go to everyday. A purpose. It may give our lives meaning. When that is taken away, depression can set in. Do not take this job loss personally, particularly in today’s economic climate. Establish a daily routine – set a few hours to devote to the job search, schedule time for regular exercise and allocate hours for family time or hobbies. Explore volunteer opportunities; helping others less fortunate can help maintain a healthy perspective on your situation. Above all, surround yourself with positive, supportive people.