A Therapist Reflects on Being Laid Off

It was a Monday, twelve days before Christmas, and my divorce was to be final that Friday.  The holidays were already pretty tough that year.  Then I got what I thought was the “Poinsettia page”.  You know, the mid December, come down to Administration, get your holiday flower and well wishes sort of thing.  When I walked into the room instead of being greeted with holiday cheer, I saw the long face of my Vice President and our Corporate Human Resources Director.  You can write the rest of my story.  Whether you see it coming, or whether you don’t, whether life has been good to you, or you have other personal stressors, being laid off from your employer can be devastating.  One of my co-workers described it as “feeling like I was shot with a numbing dart!”


In these hard economic times, we are all holding our breath, but what do you do if it happens to you?


Fine tune your ability to focus and be deliberate in your actions:   Ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my…time, money, energy etc.?  What does my future look like?  What steps do I want to take in the next 30 days?  What is the best way to get to where I want to be?


Time Management:  When you are employed your entire daily routine is built around your work schedule.  At first being unemployed may feel like getting some days off or for many of us a much needed vacation.  Denial may creep in and make us too afraid to look at the future.  We may find ourselves frozen in fear.  Instead, pay close attention to your patterns and habits.  Don’t let your days slip away from you.  Your days should be structured and focused.  Make a “to do” list for every day.  You no longer have a boss telling you what to do.  Think of yourself as “self employed” in the business of looking for a job and marketing yourself.


Money Management:  Even though you may have gotten a severance package, or you may be getting unemployment, do not be lulled into thinking you can manage your finances with a “business as usual” attitude.  You should be pro-active, so you can plan for unexpected expenses.  Review your finances, trim out unnecessary items, and stick to your new budget. If you are married, talk openly with your spouse about a budget that both of you can live with, and set a time frame to review it.  Don’t have too much pride to call companies to discuss a payment plan, or to take advantage of community based resources such as food stamps, and health insurance for your children.


Energy Management: James Arthur Ray in his book, Harmonic Wealth, uses the phrase, “Your energy flows where your attention goes.”  Are the things you are doing keeping your attitude positive and positioning you for future employment?  Or is your mind filled with worry and you see only problems on your horizon?  Are you spending all your time looking in the rear view mirror and focusing on anger at your previous employer?  If so, it will show in future interviews. Make conscious choices about how you spend your time, and your emotional energy.  Also remember to do good self care, and making sure you get adequate sleep, nutrition, companionship and exercise. If you are going to drive from the reality of where you are, to where you want to be, get in the drivers seat and take a firm grip on the wheel.  Make a choice to be resilient!