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Updated: August 14, 2009 11:49 IST

Being laid off is not a reflection of your competency

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An Ann Arbor News editor wipes his eyes as the paper ceased publication after 174 years. Photo: AP
An Ann Arbor News editor wipes his eyes as the paper ceased publication after 174 years. Photo: AP

You have done all you can to secure your job in today’s recession-hit times. You are sincere, punctual, work hard and show initiative. You are doing all the right things. But one fine day your worst nightmare comes true. Your boss walks into your office and utters those dreadful words, ‘You are laid-off!’ You get your walking papers and are quite unceremoniously shoved out of the door.

After constantly working round the clock in the incessant struggle to keep your job, you suddenly find yourself with nothing to do and cannot cope with the fact that you do not have a job anymore.

Needless to say, this is the worst time for anybody to lose a job. You experience a gamut of emotions ranging from shock, denial, anger, fear, panic and desperation. You end up feeling overwhelmed, disoriented, traumatised and vulnerable to the extreme. In fact, many people end up depressed beyond belief.

Noted psychologist Edward Diener found that the loss of a job is one of only two life events powerful enough to derail a person’s normal sense of well being for an extended period of time. “The effects of a job loss linger long after the individual has returned to the workforce!”

Besides, the chances of finding another job during the current economic downturn are quite slim. Yet, you cannot afford to wallow in self-pity, rage, helplessness or whatever else you are feeling.

What you need is acceptance to be able to pick yourself up quickly from the crisis and move on towards recovery.

Following are a few tips on dealing with the trauma of losing your job:

Do not ignore your feelings. Withdrawing into a shell will only make matters worse. You have to give yourself time to express your feelings by talking it out or at least writing how you are feeling. This can be hard for some, but it is the only way you can come to terms with the reality.

Find support. Do not hesitate to ask for emotional help from sympathetic family or friends. You can even join a social group of people who have had similar experiences and learn how they are getting through the ordeal. If needed, you can also seek professional counselling, as it will provide clarity on how to deal with the situation and move on in life.

Take care. Never forget to look after yourself as it is all the more important now to stay healthy. Ensure that you eat properly, exercise regularly and maintain a daily routine so as to gain the energy to hunt for a new job. Also, go ahead and indulge yourself by learning a new hobby.

Live on a budget. Just because you are deprived of your livelihood, the bills will not stop piling up. Deal with the financial hardship by budgeting your resources and cutting down on expenses as far as possible. Having the foresight to build a nest egg will come in handy now.

Do not take it personally. Beating yourself up with suppositions like, ‘I am worthless’ or ‘If only I had…’ are a waste of time. Remember that it is not really your fault. Also, do not try to ‘get even’ with the organisation by lying, stealing or sabotaging the work. You will only end up burning your bridges for the future.

Not a disgrace - Some people feel ashamed of the ‘loss of status’ and make up excuses in front of others. You have to be frank and honest about your circumstances without letting the job loss affect your self-esteem.

For all you know, you will not only gain support and guidance, but your social discussions may also lead to your next job!

Maintain perspective. Ground yourself by focusing on the future and consider the job loss as a mere stumbling block. Positive thinking will help you to stay motivated for the tough job search ahead.

Also, remember that, with hindsight, many people who have been given their marching orders claim the experience turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to them.

Apart from this, being out of a job is a good time to think about where you want to go and where you are actually headed. You can explore your options and even change careers if needed.

Keywords: lay-offrecessionjob loss