Layoffs and unemployment can lead to new beginnings

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Are you unemployed? Has your partner or friend been laid off? Job loss can be a blow to one’s self-confidence. Some individuals may be vulnerable to depression, sexual impotence, and other physical conditions. Others may vent anger and frustration on family members or abuse drugs.

Don’t despair. Unemployment can be a blessing in disguise. Regardless of age or occupation, people who have positive attitudes, re-evaluate goals, and work hard, usually become stronger, wiser, and fully employed.

To weather this crisis, it’s important to understand the five stage emotional cycle dismissed employees typically go through.

These five stages are similar to the ones people experience when they face a terminal illness: shock, denial and disbelief; fear and anxiety; resistance, anger, and blame; acceptance and exploration; and finally, commitment to a new venture.

People often move back and forth among the stages, especially the first three.

Stage 1: Shock, Denial, and Disbelief

When Kent was unexpectedly told that his engineering services were no longer required, he was numb. He asked himself: “What’s wrong with me?”

This first reaction to loss, characterized by inaction and refusal to recognize what’s happening, protects you from being overwhelmed.

Don’t make major decisions now. Take time to process the injury. A sympathetic listener is helpful.

Stage 2: Fear and Anxiety

Kent was embarrassed at what he imagined other people were thinking. He wondered how he would pay his bills.

In this stage, you wonder how you will manage. Your sense of security is threatened. You fear looking foolish.

Acknowledge and identify the fear. Do you fear loss of material things? The unknown? Live in the present. Explore future possibilities such as your dream job.

Stage 3: Resistance, Anger, and Blame

For awhile, Kent was angry and blamed his supervisor and company for his dismissal.

As long as it’s passing, anger is healthy because it means you value yourself. You may also doubt your abilities, and feel depressed.

Acknowledge your feelings. Talk about them with a trusted friend or professional. Write about them. Explore questions like, “What is the meaning of this?”

Translating events into words increases self-understanding. Writing enables you to address feelings, cognitively reappraise your situation, and come to terms with your predicament. Exercise, community involvement, and meditation are also helpful.

Stage 4: Acceptance and Exploration

When Kent began to release feelings of loss and explore possibilities, he regained confidence. He used the opportunity to pursue his long-time goal, writing.

In this stage individuals usually become more positive, future-focused. You have more energy to clarify and explore new opportunities.

Don’t try to complete the exploration stage too soon or settle for less than what you want. Take time to clarify and pursue your purpose. If necessary, take a survival job.

Stage 5: Commitment

After exploring options that would allow him to combine his engineering skills with his writing interest, Kent pursued a technical writing certificate program. Optimistic, he’s excited about his future.

Commitment involves focusing on a new goal. You commit to finding a new job, starting a business, or returning to school.

Fortunately, research suggest that the majority of individuals who lose jobs find new positions within three to 10 months. Regardless of age, people who address feelings and thoughts associated with each stage of the transition cycle usually come out ahead.

Individuals learn that the best protection against job loss generally involves taking charge of their own careers. They discover the pink slip offers exciting new beginnings!

Learn to manage layoffs by reading, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life:

Dr. Carole Kanchier, career and personal growth expert, is author of the award-winning, best seller, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life (2014). A registered psychologist, coach, speaker, and columnist, Carole Kanchier practices in Calgary: