One year ago today, I was let go from my job.
Have you ever lost a job before? It’s a little bit like the end of a long term relationship – one that you didn’t see coming and didn’t ask for or want. And it comes with a wave of emotions.
Keep in mind, there are many other difficulties you may face after losing your job – financial, professional, and social, to name a few. But sometimes it’s our own thoughts that seem to be the biggest battle. The more removed you become from the situation, the more time you have to contemplate all of the reasons why it might have happened. And being unemployed, you have all of the time in the world to dwell in your own miserable thoughts. It’s a dangerous mental cycle that can be difficult to escape.
So 365 days later, I wanted to share a reflection on some of the emotional and mental turmoil, in the hopes of helping those in a similar situation not feel so alone. Perhaps you can relate to one or more of these thoughts, or better understand what your friend or loved one is going through.
“Maybe I deserved it.”
Somewhere along the way, a decision had to be made and they chose YOU. So clearly, there must be something wrong with you. And your mind will do circles thinking about all of the possibilities of what those flaws might be.
There will always be things you coulda/woulda/shoulda done. This is nothing but a “what if” game that you don’t want to play.
“I’m not talented.”
If they didn’t believe in you enough to keep you around, why should you believe in yourself? Ahh yes, calling into question what you once viewed as your strengths. This is kind of inevitable; if the very people who hired you don’t see a reason to keep you on, then they must no longer see potential in you.
Deep down, you have to realize this isn’t true. First of all, you were hired for a reason, and over the months or years, you’ve probably improved your skill sets. Make a list of your qualifications and as they stack up, you’ll begin to see your value.
“What did I do wrong?”
If not your talent or work ethic, then it must have been something specific you did over the years. You pissed off the wrong person, or you didn’t impress the right one. Either way, you must have sabotaged your own career.
For many people, it’s an automatic reaction to take blame, and this situation is no different. Take a look at the root cause of the situation and you’ll likely see that it was no ONE person’s fault. When it comes to layoffs, it is often a series of poor business decisions or financial troubles that led to the outcome.
“Didn’t they like me?”
This one gets pretty dark. You begin twisting the relationships you built and second guess whether they were even real. Maybe they were just your “friend” because they had to be. If it was so easy to let you go, they must not have truly cared.
Although hard to shake the feeling that this was a personal attack, it’s not realistic. No one hired you, with the game plan of letting you go. Sure, maybe there were a couple of colleagues that didn’t have friendly intentions, but chances are the friendships you built were the real deal.
“Why not _____ instead?”
You start to compare yourself to everyone else you once worked with. What makes each of them better than you?
Pointing fingers at others won’t get you your job back. Remind yourself of what you valued about each of your colleagues, and you won’t have these feelings of “why me.”
“No one even cares that I’m gone.”
Did they even think you were a valuable member of the team? If you were let go, then you must not have been. You start thinking about how you’re probably the joke of the party now that you’re gone. Everyone remembers you as the colleague who couldn’t pull their own weight, performed poorly, lacked talent, just couldn’t make the cut.
Stay in touch with old colleagues, request feedback on what it was like to work with you. There were likely areas for improvement, but you’ll be surprised by what your team will miss about you when you’re gone.
These thoughts are a normal part of the emotional recovery after life takes this unexpected turn. Just be sure not to stay in this negative space, don’t dwell on the past, and always remember – you are valuable!
Let Go by Pat Flynn – If you’re looking for inspiration after losing your job, this is the book for you! I just ordered my 10 year anniversary copy – read along with me!