Early last year I lost my job. I was working for an organization that I loved and to which I had dedicated many years. It was a terribly difficult experience and I felt a deep sense of embarrassment and shame. For the first few weeks I suffered the lack of hope and motivation that you may feel right now. Unfortunately there is no cure for sadness, but there are important tools that you can use to find the energy to get up and get going.
The following tools may not make you feel better immediately, but they are a good place to start as you learn to cope with job loss shame:
1. Keep to a schedule
Suddenly now you've found yourself without a boss, and you may spend entire days sitting at your computer looking for jobs. It's easy to surrender to sleeping late and not getting out of your pajamas, but you will be more motivated and energized if you get up early and dress for success. Start a morning habit. Wake up early, take a shower, and get ready for your day. If you're having trouble waking up early, set a bedtime. Keeping your routine will help you stay productive. You have somewhere important to be tomorrow.
2. Eat right, exercise often
A great tool for combatting depression and anxiety associated with job loss is a healthy diet and regular exercise. If you don't have a regular exercise regimen, a simple routine of walking around your neighborhood will help clear your mind. And, eating unprocessed foods high in nutrients will give you the energetic boost you need to push through the tough moments. Treat your body with care and kindness as you navigate this time of your life.
3. Seek wise counsel
While processing your feelings, you may be tempted to spend your time isolated, angry, and frustrated. Find a friend or relative who can give you helpful advice, and don't be afraid to share your fears and concerns. It's difficult to see the opportunities around you when you're focused on the pain of your current situation. If you're not sure who to talk to, consider someone in the mental health profession, or a spiritual advisor.
4. Be brave
The days and weeks after job loss may leave you feeling afraid and vulnerable, and if left unchecked those fears may keep you from making yourself available for new opportunities and experiences within your own community. Be brave. Attend local networking events in your area, request meetings with people whose careers you respect, and visit your local career resource center. After all, the only way out of your situation is to begin moving forward!
Losing your job can be a painful and confusing experience. But, with the right tools and a positive attitude you will learn to cope with job loss shame. Remember to take care of yourself, stick to a schedule, seek good advice, and be brave. After all, even the most influential men and women in history experienced a little failure along the way.