I’ll put it to you straight. Getting laid off or fired hurts. A lot. It hurts even if you didn’t like the job or the boss.
The reason it hurts is because you made an emotional investment to your job. Its a big part of how you spend your life and even with bad jobs, we bring a piece of us to it everyday. It has many of the same characteristics of a relationship. That’s why it’s hard to leave a job, just like a relationship.
But when leaving your job isn’t your choice, you are facing loss and rejection. Those are two of life’s biggest fears. Only now it’s not a fear any longer; its reality and a painful reality you have to figure out how to get through.
There are several things you have to realize about the impact getting laid off has on you.
- This is a very real loss. It’s right up there with the death of a loved one. Many people think maybe you “shouldn’t” feel bad but that it totally wrong thinking. No one but you can judge the depth of hurt and loss but you. We experience many losses in life with the biggest being death but there is loss of financial security, loss of your home, health, safety and beloved pets. I read a study one time and the loss of a job was about 3rd from the top with death of a loved one being the first and loss of freedom through incarceration being second. Since most people never experience being thrown in jail, it makes losing a job right up there as one of the worst forms of loss.
- You may grieve. With loss comes grief and it sticks to you like a rogue piece of bubble gum. You just can’t seem to shake it and shows up at very strange times. Just know you’re normal.
- Don’t let anyone smother you with platitudes of “It’s only a job” or “You’ll get over it when you get another job” or “Time heals all wounds”. That’s horse manure. Those sayings will only cause you to hide rather than process your hurt. I have found the older version of “stages of grief” to be wrong and unhelpful. To help you process any loss, I suggest looking into books and work done by Russell Friedman and griefrecoverymethod.com They acknowledge loss, all kinds of loss and take you through a process to help through their books and methods.
- In addition to what I suggested, if you can, spend a bit of time taking care of you. Many people jump into a frenzy of job searching work and I can understand the reaction (especially if you have financial concerns) but if you can- do nice things for you. Don’t over indulge in abusiveness (drugs or alcohol) but take long walks, hit a hot tub or get a massage.
- Don’t tough this out alone. Many people do but it’s not a healthy way to move through the process.
I had a woman write me about the impact of losing her job. She told me about how she reacted after getting a letter of “position elimination”. She didn’t see it coming and was devastated. She outlined how from that point forward she has never allowed herself to put personal items in her office. She never made her office a home. It was like she symbolically has kept herself ready to leave her job. Often our outside mirrors our inside and I think her story recaps some of what you should consider. We do have to be ready to change jobs for whatever life throws our way.