Coping During Your Transition

Imagine you’ve been kidnapped and taken for a harrowing ride that ends when you’re dumped in a remote area miles from anywhere. You’re frightened and panic as you realize you don’t know which way to go. You’re confused and your self-confidence begins to wane.

Losing a job can be just as frightening and lonely since your career stability, financial security and professional self-image are suddenly stripped away. A job provides most people with their core network of relationships. It is the ongoing social context in which most of us live our lives. When you lose your job, relationships disappear with many of your closest contacts avoiding you when the bad news is broken to them. Life feels flatter, thinner. You feel alone.

Since your job has a time structure to it, life without it can feel vast and empty. With it, you have clear boundaries. You come into the office at 8 and leave at 6. You take time for lunch. You have three or more weeks of vacation. The job gives a pattern to the days and weeks and years of your life. Every day has meaning – a reason to get up, a place to go, things to do, expectations to fill. It makes living more predictable. Without a job, time stretches off toward the edges of doom. For most people, a job is a primary source of meaning and order in their lives.

No wonder losing a job can be so psychologically devastating. Most of the time, a job loss brings about an emotional shock with complete disbelief and dismay and a devastating experience with a certain loss of self-esteem, dignity, and self-confidence. You experience an emotional roller coaster ride as you feel tense, embarrassed, ashamed, isolated, depressed, frustrated, angry, lost, nervous, frightened, and insecure. Stress becomes the order of the day. It’s like being hit by a truck. It can be paralyzing.

However, it is important to try to accept the way you feel. Realize that it these feelings are normal, and tell yourself you are going to feel better. Dealing honestly with your emotions will be one of the toughest challenges you have ever had to face. You’ll need to go through several stages or levels of emotions in order to complete the healing process. Healing must take place before you can move forward with your life.