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Personal Development, Spiritual Growth

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Personal Development, Spiritual Growth


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Dealing with Your Job Loss
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Because of the upheaval with companies and the drop of the Dow Jones, one of the big topics right now is job loss. We are living in tumultuous times and you or someone close to you may have lost their job and are feeling any number of emotions.


As a psychotherapist, I’ve worked with many clients through the years who have lost their jobs either while they were in my practice or came to me so that they could deal with the loss. As with all difficulties, it is most helpful to use our personal misfortunes as teachers to help us become wiser, stronger, smarter and more humble.


Losing a job is complicated because there are many levels that follow the occurrence. We need some time to take what happened in and allow ourselves to grieve for what can feel like a death of sorts. With this in mind, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross devised the five stages of grief:

1. Denial. In this stage we tend to think there must be a mistake. It cannot be happening to us.

2. Anger. We insist it is not fair. After all, we were a good and necessary worker. We ask, why me? We then think of any number of other co-workers more deserving of losing their job.

3. Bargaining. We try to get back in through the door in any number of ways.

4. Depression. Sadness can develop into despondency. We wonder, why bother to go on? Why bother with anything?

5. Acceptance. At this stage, we have processed enough that we begin to feel that things are going to be okay. We acknowledge that we will take care of what we are able to and do the best we can.


Even though it is helpful to look at the above five stages, let us remember that they do not necessarily go from one stage to the next. Transitions and transformations are not linear; meaning, we do not complete one stage and then move to the next. Rather, we might skip over one stage for a time and then find we are back to an “earlier” stage at an even deeper place. We might even go back and forth between the stages, deepening the process each time we return. Remember though, these stages as they are broken down can help us have compassion for ourselves as we go through the difficulties. It tends to give a map of the territory that others have walked, which helps us better understand what we are going through.


Naturally, one of the first thoughts we have when facing job loss is the loss of income. This is a top stressor. If people are depending solely on us as the bread winner, this can be a very frightening, devastating, and shameful loss. Even though what we do is an expression of who we are, so many of us identify our being with what we do for our job. In other words, many of us judge our competency and value by our work life.


In the process of grieving, there are social implications that arise. Were our peers at work a family of sorts? Depending on how long we were there, losing our job may also feel like we lost members of our “family.” Now that we are no longer a part of the team, will the employees look and feel about us in the same way? Will we lose touch with them? We are trying to figure out just where we belong now in this relationship. This will also lead us to wonder about our future work life. Will we fit in anyplace else?


Along with these thoughts, we will have the fear of survival. Will there be any employer looking for the kind of skills we can offer? This will often lead to questions of asking if we are good enough. Were we ever good enough? Depending on our childhood, certain old issues return to be confronted and any self-worth questions will come to the forefront. This is a good time to get some support from a professional psychotherapist to help ease the sting and look at these wounds through the eyes of the adult we are today. This can be viewed as an opportunity to heal some of our old historical material. It is also suggested we take advantage of support groups for the unemployed and to see if our former employer can provide a list of possible organizations.


The good news is that after the initial fear, we might find that the job loss is an opportunity for growing into something better suited for us and in turn help us feel more successful in our life. The important thing is to be kind to ourselves by eating and sleeping well, exercising, journaling and taking time to go inside ourselves to reflect on our various highly charged thoughts and feelings. Now that we have been given some time, we could take advantage of looking more closely at what is important to us. Remember, any difficulty can be taken as an opportunity for great healing. Part of being happy, productive and mature is by learning to take life as it comes and making the best with what we have. This is my sincere desire for all of us.

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       Posted: 10/28/2009 9:26:42 PM

Knowing the different stages of grief is critical in helping people understand and manage the emotional roller coaster when facing or experiencing a job loss.

With proper knowledge, people can process these emotions without leaving scars on their self esteem or self worth.

They will realize that this event is just a season in their life, not a permanent condition, and that all seasons will eventually come to an end.

If more people can be reached with this message, we would have a lot less people resorting to self harm or destroying their relationships or their lives

Dr Jennifer, thank you for raising awareness for this very important and often ignored issue. I will certainly be passing this message on to those in need - Vincent Ang

Kristin Higgins       Posted: 3/1/2011 2:49:07 PM

Thank you for posting this, my husband lost his job last summer, and I just found out that I am not being rehired for my seasonal job...It is taking its toll on our marriage, but we are trying to get through this together.....you have been such a voice of reasoning for me! Thank you Thank you Thank you

Morris       Posted: 5/10/2011 11:32:32 AM

Thats real talk!! Dr jennifer! when i got laid-off a year ago i automaticially whent through the stages of grief because it is a shock to loose your job. And some of those symptoms still exist but i must say in the process i have gotten spiritually stronger!! my approach to life now is changing the way i look at things. and opening my percetion to expand into unlimited possibilities!!!

Dan Dukes       Posted: 3/27/2011 4:43:41 PM

It is just another happening along your long road of discovery. Ever funneling you into the refinement of a stronger, more humble, and worldly person capable of handling the happenings to come with greater resiliency and faith in yourself!

AmyeToTheRescue!       Posted: 4/7/2011 3:14:40 PM

Great article! I am going to share it! Thanks!

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