Moving On From Loss

I know it’s been a few days since a post has been made; it’s not due to falling off on my habit but for the fact that I have had a death in my family – my uncle and godfather has passed away. He was my father’s older brother; but he was the last of his daughter’s immediate family as her mother, brother and now father are gone. She has been distraught with grief, as one can imagine, and keeps questioning how she can move on.
Loss can be felt very deeply by those who have experienced it, whether the loss is from death, divorce, or a job loss. While each has their own causes and issues, they will all feel the loss deeply. How we view the loss and our ability to deal with it will set the tone for how we move on; research has shown that loss, which relates to our social needs, activates the same threat and pain ‘circuitry’ in the brain which activate our cells so that we feel pain (Fuller, 2009).
Of course there will be a mourning time, where it’s ok to grieve the loss but there has to be a day when it is time to move on and to let the healing begin. The more we tell ourselves we can’t move on, we won’t; it’s when we take courage, pick ourselves up and decide to move on then we will – one day at a time:

  • recognize the loss: it is important to be full-in on the emotions that will result once a loss has occurred; for some, they will be inconsolable while others may suppress their emotions. It’s ok to feel whatever you are feeling and to let the emotions out as the body needs to release the painful and negative energies that build up.
  • focus on self: at times like these, anxiety can set in which leads to sleepless nights, loss of appetite and wanting to be busy to avoid thinking about the loss. Worrying about other or extrinsic factors can become the norm to avoid facing being alone and facing the loss over and over again. Allow yourself to rest, eat, take a walk, garden, or whatever gives you some peace, which can include allowing others to help you out.
  • find activities that will help you face the loss more courageously: pray, meditate, journal, take up a hobby, color or paint, etc. All of these activities help to calm the cortisol in the brain and increase dopamine to feel calmer and happier.
  • reframe the situation: often, guilt can weave its way into our thoughts once a loss is felt (“If only I had….” or “I wish I had…..”). Going back and writing out the situation that led to the loss can help to put it in a frame to see if we had a part in it, or if it played out as we think it does, which can get skewed when emotions take over. The loss can’t be changed so don’t allow yourself to stay in that dark area. Be grateful for all you have; as Tony Robbins says, “you can’t be {upset} and grateful at the same time.”
  • Seek help: as it’s often easy to have difficulty moving on, it is helpful to find help either in your social circle (family, friends) or professionally (a counselor or coach, or a support group) to help you express your thoughts and feelings and help you find comfort to move on.
  • begin planning for your next steps: you will eventually have to move on and get back into life. It’s ok to begin planning or what that might be in regards to your career, finances, legal matters (if needed), relationships, hobbies, spiritual, and household matters. Sketch out what it might look like, allow yourself to see into your future, whether that is a month, or 3,6, 12 or longer. Do what makes you feel comfortable but be sure to do so. Life will go on and you get the choice for what it will look like.
  • remember that you are Stronger than you know

Rebuilding Trust (in yourself) After a Job Loss

Losing your job can be devastating to one’s psyche and esteem.  Thinking about the next career path can be confusing and bring up a host of fears and insecurities and lead to job search procrastination.  “Who will hire me?” or “What job am I fit for?” are questions I often hear when I coach clients.  It seems that the loss of a job leads to the loss of one’s identity which can deflate – or almost paralyze -the job search strategies that need to be done to get hired again.

In order to get “back in the game”, it is important to rebuild trust in yourself and in your abilities so you can get hired again.  According to Bridges (2003) and Nakaska (2010), it is important for a person to rebuild their own trust in their abilities and in developing their own career plans “as they themselves, rather than any single job, will be the one constant in their careers.”   It is important to keep in your mindset all of your skills and abilities that you have to offer to potential employees; this means having them written down and placed where you can see them on a daily basis.  Keeping your professional development in mind will be the key to your weathering these changes and resulting stress that change brings.  Paying more attention to what is occurring in your industry and in the world of work will help you bring more knowledge and skills to an employer and can position you as a top candidate for hire.  Taking charge of your career will help to increase and enhance your skills and knowledge, give you a clearer direction for where you want your career to go and enable you to make better choices.  These activities will also help to rebuild your internal trust so you feel more confident and less fearful to seek out the positions you desire.  Not only will you rebuild trust in yourself but you will be managing your career as opposed to allowing an employer to do so.

How to Recover After a Job Loss

Losing a job can take the wind out of you; it can feel like someone punched you in the stomach and  left you laying there.   Losing your job can feel like you lost your best friend, i,e. your ego.  Self-esteem suffers after a job loss, regardless if you were let go for cause or through no fault of your own, such as in a lay-off or downsizing.  How you recover will depend on: how it was handled, your personality and your ego strength.   It is important  to take some time to ‘lick your wounds’ after. It’s ok to get angry, sad, and to cry.  You will go through the grief stages, namely denial (shock and disbelief), bargaining, anger, depression and then acceptance.  Not all of these stages will be felt as strongly but it is important to not deny your feelings, particularly anger and sadness, in order to heal.  Once you move through these stages, it is now time to work on recovery and getting back to job-search mode.

If you are resilient and weather changes with a positive attitude, you will not take the job loss personally and will be able to reenergize and refocus your efforts on finding a new career path.  If you don’t have resilience or good coping skills, there are ways you can also refocus and find your inner strengths to help you bounce back:

1.  Practice good self-care – exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, go for walks, or other activities that relieve stress; resolve to focus on taking charge of your career path

2. Do a self-assessment – write down all of your skills, experiences, successes on the job, awards, etc.; you need to rediscover your qualities to increase your self-esteem and help you to feel positive about your job prospects

3.  Develop a job search strategy – have a specific plan for how you will spend your days, what job boards to search, who you will call to network, job fairs to attend, and what groups or associations to align with

4. Revamp your resume – develop several versions of your resume that will highlight your skills, benefits and accomplishments; develop a cover-letter template that can be used for the job you are applying for

5. Self-develop – this would be a good time to take up reading and research; there are a lot of good books and internet resources related to careers (such as on this site) and personal and emotional development; you can also join social networking sites to find information and support.

6. Seek help – if you find yourself procrastinating or grieving for an extended period of time, or feel overly frustrated with the lack of progress in your job search, seek the help of a career coach or a therapist who can help you work through the loss and find healthy coping and job-search strategies

Losing a job can be devastating, leading to not only loss of income but of friends and esteem.  By following these steps you can get refreshed and refocused, not only on your career but on yourself which can give you a new lease on life.  Losing a job does not always have to be negative as you can rediscover yourself, and your strengths, in the process.  How have you bounced back?

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