The very last thing I would want to do is to appear to trivialize the trauma that victims feel when they are physically assaulted by another person. That victimization is horrible, so extremely tragic and deplorable. However this blog is all about the assault that is experienced by the person looking for employment; and some of that assault is both from external and internal sources.
When you were given the word and notified that your services were no longer required, how did you feel? I’m guessing a mixture of shock, anger, resignation perhaps if you saw it coming, maybe even betrayal because one of you was loyal to the other, and it wasn’t the employer. So you were hurt in the process perhaps, and if you weren’t feeling it then due to some compensation package provided by the employer, you undoubtedly will later.
If you met someone you knew who was a victim of a physical assault, and they were in pain and you could clearly see the marks on the victim, I’m hoping you would immediately seek some medical attention. Aside from Police needing to document the physical marks of the assault to punish someone, what would be more critical was offering support to the victim. You would want them to make a speedy recovery, and you’d also probably want them to distance themselves from the person who did the assaulting by getting them somewhere safe. Did it ever occur to you that you yourself may be this victim? Losing your job is like having your worth assaulted. “We don’t need you anymore” is the message you receive.
When you lose employment, your self-image as an employee of a company is immediately gone. The longer you have worked for a company, the more imprinted that image is on you and by you, and the more difficult it will be to deal with. For example, if I were to lose my job as an Employment Counsellor, I would have to deal with all my family and friends and professional colleagues by informing them all that I no longer work for my previous employer, and I’m no longer an Employment Counsellor. For some people, there is still tremendous shame and anxiety in this process; so much so, that many resort to telling as few people as they can in the hopes of replacing that job title and employer quickly so they can just substitute one positive image with another. However as unemployment drags on, I might go from “I used to be an Employment Counsellor”, to “I’m still looking”. You might be looking for a job, but really…you’re looking for a new identity in large part.
One mistake many people make in their unemployment is trying to shoulder everything on their own. Trying to deal with shock, anger, anxiety, feelings of loss, betrayal, fear can be overwhelming. Just because there are no visible black eyes or broken bones for others to see, doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing tremendous mental anguish. It is doubtful that you received sufficient training in maintaining and repairing your own mental health. Even professional Mental Health Counsellor’s who lose employment know the importance of finding someone to listen if it happens to them.
Get started today by stop beating yourself up. As odd as it sounds, you might actually have found yourself blaming yourself for your job loss. While you can certainly learn from the experience of losing a job, or underperforming in some way, the past is, well, the past. You need to move forward don’t you? So stop thinking, “If only I had…” or “If only I hadn’t…”.
While it might seem strange if you haven’t done it yet, get yourself into your family Doctor. You can never have too many check-ups. Tell your Doctor that you’ve lost your job, and share anything you might be feeling physically. Stress can manifest itself in stiff muscles, chronic shoulder pain, etc. as well as constant fatigue, loss of energy and changes in weight. You might also want to go see a Mental Health Counsellor. These services are confidential. Taking care of your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health. If you think this kind of help is only for sissy’s and crackpots, you’re way out of touch with reality. The weak are actually the ones who forge along alone, and the wise are the ones who admit they could use the help. It takes strength to open up and share feelings like loss of self-esteem and questioning one’s worth.
Another thing you can do is try to think ahead to that next interview. You really should consider one major question that is bound to come up; “why did you leave your last position?”. If you ignore thinking about this question until interview day, it will hit you like a slap in the face when you are forced to deal with it. Your face and body will betray your feelings of anger, shame, hurt, revenge etc. and the anxiety building up to that question might get the whole interview off course. Best to come up with a good answer that you can deliver with confidence. An Employment Counsellor can help you in this process.
While you have my sympathy for your unemployment status, sympathy is not what most victims of assault want. Sympathy alone is not helpful. Someone to listen is helpful, and someone to actually provide hope for change and change itself are much more effective.