Job Loss Emotions– Deal With Them Or They’ll Come Out Sideways

16 Aug

Stressed

There’s an excellent article in the New York Times about how to deal with the stresses that invariably will face someone when they are in a prolonged job search in these difficult economic times. Some of the advice I found most useful:

Periodically, you may need to “download” all your emotions — to write them down or discuss them with a trusted friend who won’t criticize or judge you, Dr. Molitor said. Then identify which things you can control and which you can’t. Throughout your search, make detailed lists of the things you have done and still need to do, she said.

If you keep your emotions bottled up, “you’re going to have stress symptoms later,” she said. These can include insomnia, panic attacks, and colds brought on by a weakened immune system, she said. (And these will make you perform all the worse during an interview.)

Mentally, stress can distort your perspective. “When we get stressed, the brain is sometimes ineffective at processing things rationally,” Dr. Molitor said. In short, things may not be nearly as bad as they appear, and you have more control over your situation than you think.

Years ago I received advice that stress will always come out– they question is only how– either in a way that you manage or “sideways”.

I’ve been in the job search and have felt these emotions as well– thankfully I had good help at hand.In my professional life have counseled hundreds of people through corporate-sponsored outplacement. I see too many people who keep stress bottled up, only to have it come out sideways at an unopportune time, like a job interview.

I told one particularly stressed out client I advised:

“Employers can sense that something isn’t right in an interview. They may not know what they’re sensing, but that uncomfortable feeling may make them pass on you.”

He took the mesage to heart and eventually got the job. To another client, who was both angry about being laid off and also depressed about the matter (anger and depression are, of course, quite related) I said:

Employers are kind of funny. They already have lots of angry and depressed people on staff. They don’t need one more.

He too heeded the advice and got about the difficult business of dealing with these difficult emotions. This is very serious stuff, and the advice in this article is a good place to start if you are without work and feel like your emotions are getting the best of you.

2 Responses to “Job Loss Emotions– Deal With Them Or They’ll Come Out Sideways”

  1. sittam August 16, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    I know how it feels to be unemployed. I was desperately unemployed between the age of 22 and 31 as I was under the delusion that I could make it as a freelance writer. I found out the hard way that in Malaysia (during the 80s) the only writers who will be hired are the ones with a degree in English Literature or at least a basic degree. I had neither having dropped out of school after my O Levels and trying unsuccessfully to get through my A Levels (science stream). I would purposely stay in bed with my eyes closed until my siblings had left for school or work even though I would be wide awake. Luckily for me my parents never nagged me over my unemployed status. This gave me the strength to embark on little journeys of self discovery mostly introspective. I used the time to study people, improve my writing and emperiment with drama. It was indeed a most memorable phase of my life as everything that I know and practice now was acquired during those years.

    • markhirschfeld August 16, 2009 at 11:23 am #

      Thank you for the remarks about your journey. This can be very emotionally challenging even in the best of times, but when the recession is making job searches much longer these stresses can build up and get in the way of folks. There are resources out there for people to access– people just need to take that first step to reach out.

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