My Advice: Hold Off Job Searching

Sounds like odd advice from an Employment Counsellor to give on the surface of it doesn’t it; putting your search for a job on hold. Yet quite often, that’s the advice I give some of the people I meet with.

Now if you’re employed and see yourself first and foremost as a taxpayer and believe that everyone in receipt of social assistance should be completely investing 100% of their time looking to work, my apologies. There are some situations in which I believe looking for a job is not only ill-advised, it can set someone back tremendously from finding employment in the long haul.

Take yesterday as an example. For two weeks, I instructed a dozen people in the basics of using the computer. I’m talking basics here; using it to make an email, learning how to access the internet, find employment opportunities, make a resume, apply for work with that resume. We did more as well, but I like to instruct with practicality in mind, so as most were unemployed, why not learn the basics of the digital world and at the same time, showing them how competing for employment these days requires computer skills? Anyhow, there I was yesterday, seated with one of the participants from that class, doing a follow up appointment.

Typically, I plan on giving someone feedback on what I observed over those two weeks, encourage them and point out moments of success and accomplishment. However, I threw all that out the window yesterday when this one woman came in and we sat down in my office. She was 15 minutes late, and said she had almost decided not to come in for the scheduled meeting. Two developments on the day before our meeting occurred; she was contacted by her Doctor who said she must meet immediately with her to share results of some medical tests and her 13 year old daughter was committed to a hospital for a few days after telling her own Doctor that she was thinking about killing herself.

Suddenly, giving feedback on computer skills and talking about using these new skills to job search seemed entirely inappropriate. Of greater importance in that moment was listening, supporting and responding to her disclosure, her fears of what her Doctor knows and must share in person immediately and her own daughter’s thoughts of ending her life. At a time like this, the focus on receiving, comprehending and processing these two major life events supersedes any encouragement to get out and get a job.

Besides, if you believe that she’d be able to effectively job search at the present moment, I’d venture you’re views are based in ideology and not practical reality. Do I think governments always get this? No. I suspect when they look at stats, they focus solely on how many people start a program, how many finish and how long it takes someone to find employment after taking a program to determine its effectiveness. Numbers don’t tell the whole story; not by a long shot.

“Will I get in trouble for not looking for a job though?” she asked. So I took an hourglass from my desk and flipped it over, letting the blue sand fall. “You only have so much energy. Right now, your focus and energy is on receiving your own diagnosis and whatever implications that holds. As a caring mom who has a daughter in crisis, the two of you have a lot to work through, you’re probably blaming yourself and you’re scared. You just got two extremely upsetting events on the same day. Forget the job search for now; you won’t be in trouble.” She looked at that blue sand accumulating in the bottom half and said seeing how the top was emptying was how she felt.

Near the end of our meeting, she told me how glad she was that she’d decided to come because she’d considered staying at home. There she was, expressing gratitude to me for making her feel better. It’s pretty humbling to hear someone in the midst of heightened anxiety and trauma be so genuinely kind and thoughtful. When she left she hugged me; we hugged each other. Somewhere in that simple act, some of her fear melted into me, and some compassion for her suffering flowed from me to her.

Do you really believe she should be focusing 100% on looking for work? Do you really think I – anyone for that matter – who counsels and supports people looking for work should pressure her into making a job search her first priority? And where I now wonder does any government making funding decisions and program cut decisions factor in this kind of experience?

I tell you this, were I that woman, receiving these two pieces of information, I’d sure be grateful to meet with a compassionate, understanding and patient person. Yesterday I was fortunate to be that guy, but this is not about me. I believe there are people with equally, even better responses everywhere, having similar experiences daily.

Something as simple as removing an expectation of finding work and assuring them they won’t have their benefits suspended, can do far more good in the long run by building a trusting, human connection. For who is equipped to deal with either of these situations let alone two on the same day?

So yes, put aside the job search; there are times when it’s not priority #1.

And your thoughts?

Job Application Rejection

There was a time in my life when I was fortunate enough to get an interview for every job I applied to. Okay, being entirely honest, I actually got selected and hired for all those jobs I applied to and was interviewed for. Hey, I thought applying for work was pretty straight forward. In retrospect, it’s a good thing that pattern didn’t last very long, because had things continued that way, I’d have made a very poor Employment Counsellor.

Over the course of my working life, I’ve applied to many jobs and not been successful. I’ve applied and heard nothing, received letters telling me the organizations have moved in different directions, been told in person and over the phone that I didn’t get jobs too. In my experience, the more I wanted a job I didn’t eventually get, the more it stung. The loss of an opportunity I was only somewhat motivated to get didn’t hurt near as much. Perhaps you’ve noticed something similar yourself?

Being rejected by an employer does damage to your self-image. It’s called your psyche; your self-perception. It’s not surprising that we should feel badly after being passed over for jobs we really want. Seeing a job ad for a position we could see ourselves doing is one thing, but once we get down to actually applying, we go from casual observer to active applicant. The more we invest in the application by conducting research, targeting our resume, writing a cover letter, having conversations with people – all in an effort to obtain the position, the more it stings when all that effort doesn’t produce the results we’d hoped for.

The solution is not what some would think; to only put in minimal effort when applying in order to minimize your losses. This is the logic I’ve heard some people use over the years. To avoid getting their hopes up and being extremely disappointed, they jus don’t get too excited or invest too much of themselves in any potential job application. Ironically, when these people do get rejected, while you think they’d be less affected than the person who goes all in on applying, they actually feel a similar level of frustration. Not only is this frustration similar in it’s impact, they are often left wondering if they’d have had a different result with some more effort on their part.

Now there’s been times in my life when I’ve been unemployed and had to go through the process of finding jobs to apply to, submitting my application, not getting hired and continuing my search with other opportunities. I have to say, I’ve never lost touch with that feeling of joyful relief that comes when you have an employer select you from the many applicants they’ve had. The degree of relief experienced seems very much related to the length of time away from employment. I have also felt immense gratitude for the jobs I’ve been hired to do after going without one for longer than I’d have liked. It’s the memory of these success following roller coaster periods of hopes and frustrations which now help me immensely in my role as an empathetic Employment Counsellor.

This is the way life goes for many people though isn’t it? The Employment Counsellor is better for having experienced the personal ups and downs of job searching, experiencing the blues personally often helps a songwriter make a connection with their music, etc.

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to experience a prolonged job search, fraught with it’s financial, psychological and emotional hardships just so they could get a better understanding and appreciation for the process. Besides, there’s no guarantee that just going through a lengthy period of unemployment makes one more appreciative of the job they eventually land in. I’ve seen some extremely bitter people; changed negatively and intensely so because of their unemployment. Let me assure you I’ve no wish to see anyone come close to that experience.

Having this personal appreciation for being unemployed and through the course of my daily work seeing the potentially spirit crushing affect of the job search process on others, I urge you to get support. Believe me, there’s no sign of weakness in reaching out to a Job Coach, Mental Health Counsellor, Employment Specialist or Employment Counsellor. It’s not an exaggeration to say that partnering up with one or more of the above as you navigate your career exploration and job search might just save yourself. Unemployment has destroyed marriages, destroyed families, financially ruined people of their livelihoods, and broken many people’s spirits of optimism. Some have lost jobs and ended their lives too. Job loss is a serious business.

You see being isolated at a time when you’re experiencing the emotional ups and downs of being hopeful and then rejected, time and time again can stretch a person’s patience and is a genuine test of fortitude, character and emotional well-being. This isn’t a time to draw further into yourself as your normally sound judgement may become skewed. In short, you might not make good decisions when your under prolonged stress and desperate.

It doesn’t have to be me, but get yourself some support. This is a running theme of mine because I know first-hand just how important being supported is when you’re job searching. There’s so much at stake; and you my reader; yes you – the one reading this – you’re so worth it!

Grieving At Christmas

Are you grieving at this time of year more than usual and feeling out of sorts as a result? You know, there’s merriment joy all around you whether it’s songs on the radio, Christmas cards that arrive in the post, the humourous social media posts that land on your homepage; and somehow you just don’t feel in sync with all that carefree joy all about you.

You find yourself on this pendulum swinging between moments when you get caught up in those happy moments yourself and then feel pangs of guilt as you recall the loss of someone special in your own life. Your laughter and broad smile disappear from your face replaced with stress lines on your forehead and a sombre look of remembrance. One moment you feel happy, then you’re sad, and then you’re guilty again about bringing everyone around you down in spirit. Oh if you could just get back to feeling, ‘normal’; the normal you used to feel in years past!

Welcome to your new normal. The emotions and feelings you’re experiencing are valid, very real and yours to deal with and process to the extent you are able. While normally in control in most areas of your life, it seems like you haven’t yet mastered this specific one; dealing with the loss of someone significant in your life. Try as you might, you haven’t found a way to – as they say – get over it; deal with it; move on.

The fact that Christmas brings along with it words of good cheer from everyone from family and best friends to work colleagues and strangers is well-meaning but only seems to punctuate the feeling that things aren’t usual. “Usual” means that for the other 11 months of the year people aren’t wishing you happy holidays or merry anything.

Think of that pendulum metaphor again. Your balance point looking back seemed to be when the one you’re grieving now was still around. When they departed, you experienced a shift where sorrow, longing and heartache have moved the pendulum. Then at Christmas we see, hear, smell, taste and feel the good; it’s families gathering around singing carols, over indulging in rich foods, their gifts, bright lights in the night, decorations and traditions deeply steeped in family history brought out and on exhibit 24/7 until Christmas is over. All of this swings the pendulum in the other extreme; where you’d normally be happy to go and make merry of your own accord.

But whatever side that pendulum is on at a given moment, you’re private thoughts can’t seem to be a peace with. You’re feeling guilty when privately grieving and feeling remorseful when you catch yourself humming a Christmas song in your head let alone out loud. So yes, you’re feeling out of sorts all the time. Why can’t everyone around you understand this and give you your own space so you can get the pendulum back to the center?

Of course to others, they see mood swings and may feel they are walking around on eggshells trying not to set you off. They want desperately to be of help and support; they worry don’t they? And you of course are wondering why they themselves are seemingly handling things much better than you are. Don’t they miss the departed? Don’t they care as much as you do?

Everybody experiences loss and everyone processes the feelings that go with loss in a very personal way. The thing is there is no set timeline for doing so. People who experience long grieving periods might worry those who don’t, and those that don’t worry those who do because they may come across as unfeeling, callous, cold and detached.

It’s healthy to accept that we all process loss and figure out how to move ahead on our own at our own pace. We know intellectually that death is inevitable where there is life; the day we get a puppy we know a day at some point will come when the pet will pass away. Does this make it easier? Maybe for some but not for all. And things get magnified for many when the loss isn’t a family pet but a family member such as a mother or father; daughter or son.

So here it comes…Time is the answer. How much time? Who is to say? You can no better predict how long you’ll take to deal with your personal loss than you could predict how long you’ll live yourself.

Now this grieving process of dealing with the loss of someone special is identical to the process of grieving over a family pet for some and yes grieving over the loss of employment. That may seem trivializing your loss of a family member but to some people, the shock, anger, denial, bargaining and eventual acceptance which makes up the grieving process is just as real when losing a job and shouldn’t be dismissed as not just as real.

Give yourself permission to have your moments of pain and don’t apologize for your tears of remembrance. These are your own very personal moments and your thoughts are not to be taken as a weakness of character. You should never expect nor hope I imagine to entirely forget the person gone, the pet gone or the job lost.

You will eventually get to where you will give yourself permission to be happy without feeling conflicted or guilty. Your good mental health will return. Do accept wishes for a merry Christmas as they are intended; with only the best of intentions.

Understanding the “Why?” in Suicide

There are thankfully, fewer and fewer subjects that are still taboo. Suicide is one of those dark subjects that seems to be okay to think and talk about openly as long as it’s not you personally that’s had to deal with one in the immediate family. Is this what you believe? Or do you think that this was how people thought long ago and now things have changed to the point where people talk more openly about things?

So then let me ask you this: If you were next to someone who was talking about someone who committed suicide, how comfortable would you be joining in? Worse yet and far more personal, if someone told you directly they couldn’t take life anymore and were going to end it all, would you have the slightest idea what to say?

When I’ve been close enough to have someone open up about contemplating suicide, a number of triggers immediately get set into motion. One of the first things I think about is trying to discern how real the possibility of suicide actually is, how imminent or is it just a thought in passing quickly dismissed. What if I think it’s not imminent and this is the last attempt at reaching out for help? And I take someone talking to me about the subject as possibly a person who needs help without asking. Are they looking for reasons to live? Crying out for intervention or hope? Are they seeking attention or are things so utterly hopeless that it is the release that they seek?

And sooner or later, whether it’s at this stage of the conversation or hearing about it long after, the inevitable question of, “Why?” arises. For some people the question can eventually be answered and for others, the question will go unanswered for all time, and the pursuit of a rational answer to explain it can never be found. And accompanying the question of, “Why?” is the question, “Is there something I could have done to prevent it?”

Such detailed examination of the past is usually not all that productive. “Was it something I said?” “I should have seen the signs.” “If only I had been there he or she would have listened to me!” Don’t beat yourself up. You are entitled to your life and to live it in joy, happiness and to find fulfillment. Unfortunately, while every other person has the same entitlement, there have been and will continue to be some who will never experience the happiness and contentment and cannot deal with the demons that assail them.

I have penned thoughts on suicide before in this blog, and were you to read back issues of this blog, you might find those words. So why go through this topic again? Time and audience is the answer. Time because you the reader may know someone intimately who is contemplating bringing about their own death in the near future and may have come to this blog only recently. And audience because as my audience grows there will be some for whom these words resonate that have not the knowledge that they’ve been here before. And if a life; one life only, is saved until death comes naturally in the future, then I am happy to address this again.

And now the connection between unemployment and suicide. Understand that anyone who is out of work should be monitored closely by those closest to them, and that it is our responsibility – yours and mine – to ensure that we don’t presume someone else will keep connected to them and check in on them. I’ve been out of work in my past, and few things are worse than the immediate and poignant silence that comes about when friends retreat and go into silence. When people fail to talk to us because they are afraid they don’t know what to say. It doesn’t matter you see. No, just carrying on conversations, conversations about the news of the day, the weather, sports, politics, etc. – the normal stuff – keeps people feeling normalized.

You don’t have to be a Counsellor and deal with preserving someone’s mental health. You don’t have to be a compassionate Social Worker and know all the community agencies. You don’t have to be a trained Medical Practitioner and ‘fix’ their physical health. What you can be is available. “Hey want to meet for a coffee?” “Interested in coming over and watching a movie?” “I’m heading out to watch the kids play hockey. Want to come?” Simple everyday stuff, no training required.

If you act now and keep friends and family connected and involved, you’ll never question what you could have done to prevent a suicide. And to be entirely blunt and sincere, when listening to someone who has had a close friend or family member commit suicide, I don’t put much effort caring for the person whose gone – because they are gone. I invest the time and care in compassionately being concerned about the person talking – are they are risk of depression or worse?

Do what you can now, let go of the pain and the recrimination. You have a life to live and that’s a precious thing not to be fully lived.

“You’re Useless!” And Other Put-Downs

This week and next, I am facilitating a Self-Employment class at work. I’ve got twelve individuals, all of whom are on social assistance, who are interested in launching their businesses soon; intent on gaining their financial independence this way rather than the more conventional route of working for someone else.

While all of them present with their own barriers to employment, there is one whose comment struck me as all too common, whether one is job searching or attempting to run a business. The comment made remarked on those closest to her; family and friends who have always doubted her openly and are now telling her she doesn’t have what it takes to run her business and she should just suck it up and go get a regular job.

Now that’s as much about this one person I’m going to share in this blog today. However, I’m going to sum up a multitude of individual conversations with others throughout. Comments that openly criticize others are destructive and painful for the other person. While some people do say these mean comments to bully and intentional hurt, often they are made in a bizarre attempt to be helpful.

But why do the comments sting so much at all? To answer this, its important to remember that the comments are coming from sources that people generally expect to be supportive and nurturing; our family and closest friends. More than any other people, our parents, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, our best friends; these are the people constantly in our lives who know us best. And if they know us best and they don’t believe we have the ability to succeed, then how good are our chances of success?

You must also realize that because you are without a job, you have lost temporarily, the status that typically gets assigned by our society to people who have jobs. And it’s generally believed that trying to launch a business is much more difficult than going to work for someone else.

I’m telling you this: If you are constantly being put-down, criticized, having your abilities questioned, yelled at, told you’ll never amount to anything or you’re just a major disappointment, you’ve got to take action. It is absolutely critical that the attacks stop. If you continue to endure and live in a situation where others slam you constantly – especially if those others are family – you run a high-risk of believing all those negative comments, doubting your self-worth, depression, withdrawal from society and even suicide.

To start with, if you haven’t done it, have a conversation with those closest to you about your job search or your new business venture if you’re going that route. Explain the ultimate goal, why you’ve settled on that career or business idea, and how the skills, experience and education you have puts you in a position to succeed. If you are taking training, share that too. All of this may legitimize yourself in their eyes, proving you’ve really thought this out. And then ask for their personal support, telling them how you value their opinion, and that you really need them behind you.

Now if you just get some negative reaction, they just call you stupid or a complete waste of space, you have to in my opinion for your own good, remove yourself from the source of all the destructive and hurtful comments. This could mean moving out or restricting phone contact to once a week instead of daily calls. And it could mean putting rules of engagement in place, such as, “if you start yelling at me and telling me I’m stupid, I ask you to stop once and then I hang up the phone.” You really can’t afford it you see to constantly be verbally assaulted and abused; and if you didn’t realize it until just now, you are a victim of abuse – it’s verbal but it’s still abuse.

Being the victim of verbal abuse can be more deadly than a victim of physical abuse – although please don’t think either are preferable. It’s just that others can’t see bruises and welts who would help, and it takes much closer observation to see the damage.

If you do leave home, don’t do it in a rage, yelling and screaming, yelling accusations back and forth. Do it calmly, with purpose, knowing you may at some point in the future, welcome and seek out that contact so don’t burn the bridges on your side of the relationship. You’re not leaving to hurt the other people, you’re leaving to preserve the person you are and save yourself. This also applies if you have to temporarily terminate a close friendship with someone who doesn’t believe in you. Same rules; leave with kindness and respect for them even if it seems incredibly difficult to do.

You are a person of worth. You do have good qualities. You are entitled to succeed. There is a job out there you can do and do well. Your idea for a business may just be your future calling.

Ironically, those closest to you are usually scared for you and want you to succeed. They want to see you well-off but know they may be powerless to help you so they just rant and seek to motivate you by calling you names. They know not the destruction they cause, and are powerless to do otherwise. That conversation you have might give them an opening.

He’s A Very Serious Warning

Have you heard of that saying, “Maybe your purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.”? On the internet it’s usually accompanied by a person failing at something so badly that it’s meant to be funny. However what if you know someone in real life, not vicariously, and that’s what their life could actually be?

Let me tell you about Dave (not his real name). Dave comes in to the Employment Resource Centre where I work about 4 days a week. I’ve been at the Centre for over 6 years now, and before that, Dave was one of my clients during the 4 years I was a Social Services Caseworker. So he’s been receiving this financial help for over 10 years. When I first met him, he seemed more motivated, said the right things when asked about what he was doing, and he had some dreams of full-time employment.

Today, Dave works p.t. as an Usher in the entertainment industry with a local business, working whenever there’s a hockey game or a concert. It’s uncertain work, and he combines this with volunteering with two local organizations. It would appear that over the 10 year period, he’s got himself a job and some connection to feel useful and give back to the community, and for all of this he should be commended.

The problem however, is that he’s rested far too long on these small achievements. Living in subsidized housing, he will tell you one day that he’s set for life and why would he want to move because of the rent? Other days, he’ll complain about the recurring bed bug problem. His problem with alcohol is better under control but it’s cost him his career, his marriage, strained his relationship with his adult daughter, and it’s a life-long battle.

Dave will show off his big vocabulary one day like yesterday; asking me if I know how to spell “Ecclesiastics”. Oh he doesn’t need to actually know, and he could look it up on the internet, but it’s his way of saying, “I need some socialization and I’ve got nothing to do, so I guess I’ll talk with you for a bit”. The thing is, he’ll just hover around until you say, “So what’s up Dave?” Now it’s not that he’s getting in the way of the work we do here, because serving others is what we do in the Centre.

Dave recently applied for and received Disability Assistance, meaning that he gets additional financial support, and no longer has to engage in schooling, job search, education etc. but can if he likes. Dave actually wants to update one of his certifications, which will be free and takes half a day.

The saddest thing about Dave is that he’s lost so much drive and personal motivation, that he’s lost his hopes, lost his dreams, lost his purpose. Some days his biggest purpose is to just get through the day. Other days, he volunteers, meets his daughter for lunch, has an evening concert to work etc. So he’s got some drive, some purpose, but he’s plateaued.

When he arrives, we can all tell within the first minute if Dave is going to be sarcastic and is looking to engage in some verbal sparring, or he’s depressed, or he’s on a good day and can be quite positive and full of purpose with a goal for the day.

So why is he a warning to others in ways? Well the longer you remain on Social Assistance of any kind, the more comfortable you may get with the lifestyle that comes with it. Instead of having the drive to change and improve, the ‘new normal’ starts to look appealing. Your friends soon become other recipients, your dreams for the future start getting harder to remember and seem further out of reach. The people in your life tend to be professionals from Social Services. Your daily goals might be to walk around until the food bank opens, find somebody to exchange the stuff you don’t want for things they don’t want but you do. You may find too that the days in the week don’t really matter anymore and weekends and weekdays are pretty much the same; the only days that matter are rent-due days, and the day you get your Social Assistance.

Dave told me yesterday he’s lost hope. At 58 he figures he’s 7 years away from a meager old-age pension. He’s talked about suicide in the past and we’ve had to call in the police to ensure he goes to get help to get through the roughest patches.

If you find yourself in need of assistance, take advantage of it and the financial benefits that come with it by all means; that’s what it’s there for. However, do your very best to try to stay self-motivated too. I’ve glossed over many things, including all the efforts I and others have taken to intervene and provide hope and encouragement – and those efforts are considerable. The one thing that no one can give another however is SELF-motivation. The hardest person to help is the person whose given up. Believing in another person is incredibly powerful, but it does have its limitations. REACH OUT.

Job Searching and Suicide

Lovely topic for today eh? If the topic is a little uncomfortable, I’m sorry for that, but that doesn’t change the fact that for a number of people looking for work unsuccessfully, suicide crosses their mind as a way to escape the pain and feelings of failure.
Just a job brings an individual pride, identity and independence, so too does the absence of work bring many, shame, loss of identity, dependence and utter depression. For many, the initial loss of a job is not seen as such a catastrophic calamity because the psyche still feels that employment is soon to be had. As the period of unemployment stretches out, the stress of being unable to provide for oneself or one’s family grows. Loss of self-esteem and self-respect are ever-present, and with doubt mounting continually, it’s only natural and to be expected that the most buoyant among us will start to lose steam and start to give up.
The thing that really drives some people to despair is that the capacity to deal with this continual assault on one’s self-perception is weakened if there is no hope, no break in the continual pressure. While seeking professional help is an excellent course of action; Doctor’s, Mental Health Counsellor’s and Employment Advisor’s, unless there is an observable and very real change in the person’s reality, the depression continues. When coming into contact with one of these professionals, people do initially experience some small measure of hope, trusting that the person may be able to help them in some way because they are seen as the professional. However, if the solution the client has in mind is an interview followed by a job offer, and no interview or job offer materializes, the person might feel that while the intentions of the professional are appreciated, it still hasn’t translated into anything concrete.
In these days following Christmas and a time of general bliss and merriment when the world is apparently experiencing comfort and joy, such people are feeling anything but. Just yesterday I was speaking with a fellow who has been out of work for a third straight year. With the passing of 2012, it serves as a reminder of this, rather than what most of us look at as a new year, a new chapter, and new things to get excited about. To the unemployed, it may just be another year to dread, another year to count as being out-of-work, and with it, another year of branding themselves as a failure.
This is why we, as professionals who work with the unemployed must in my opinion, be sensitive to the extreme in how we converse with our clients. Do we gaily laugh and talk of our exciting New Year’s Eve parties, and the lovely gifts we got at Christmas in proximity of our clients or the clients of our peers? Perhaps something as innocent as being overheard to talk about getting together with our families is nothing more than a painful reminder to that person of their own isolation and abandonment from their own family who sees them as a loser and someone to avoid.
Of course, we are entitled to live our lives productively, and to share with our co-workers and others our joys, our laughter, our happiness. If we didn’t, we would be robbing ourselves of engagement and happiness in the workplace; which would as a result become more stale and stagnant. However, we might do well to remember that those who are out-of-work may not appreciate fully our gaiety, and while they are happy we had a good Christmas, or had some happy event, maybe we just need to downplay it a bit in their presence. Empathy and sensitivity in practice in other words.
Some people will experience profound grief and despair with unemployment, only magnified by the long cold winters, the darkness and the contrast with the life they expected and hoped to be living at this point in their lives. Be on the alert to those with whom you come into contact with. Having a ready list of contacts handy to pass along may be appreciated, but even more, just a friendly ear might be welcomed.
And if you are saddened, in some way affected by the open sharing of a client who is nearing making some final decision, consider yourself lucky. Lucky? Yes lucky? The reason of course is twofold; you are someone they trust enough to open up to, and secondly, if you are affected that means you still have the precious gift of empathy and sensitivity. Tune in to the words and non-verbal signals your clients provide. If you are affected so negatively in some way that you find it hard to concentrate, speak with your Supervisor or get help if you have an Employment Assistance Program at work.
All the very best to you in your work today!

Dealing With The Weight Of The World

Today I’d like to speak to those readers who are either dealing with a massive amount of pressure on a daily basis, or those readers who know someone in their lives who is. Whether you are currently employed or looking for your new job, dealing with overwhelming stress and pressure has to impact on your ability to concentrate on your job-at-hand.

Most people have events in their lives that cause some form of stress. Stress remember, is neither good nor bad, but how we react to it can make the event a positive or negative one. For example, the pressure of an upcoming wedding is usually expected by a bride or groom and because the desire to marry their partner is greater than let say a Caterer that falls through in the final week, there is enough motivation to solve the problem by getting a new Caterer.

When you have multiple events that appear to be specifically targeting you, it can be difficult if not debilitating. It is said that bad things often come in threes, and for some readers, three would be welcomed because you’re dealing with eight or thirteen. When every moment of the day your thoughts are consumed with problems that don’t appear to have solutions or involve a great deal of effort, it may seem easier to just crawl under a sheet, turn off the lights, and try to escape into a deep sleep. Worse yet, escape might mean alcohol, drugs, self-harm, or even attempts at suicide in the extreme. Other than a successful suicide, at some point you’re going to be back to reality and having to deal with both the problems you had, and maybe some additional ones because of the alcohol, the drugs, the self-harm.

A real danger too is that the, ‘weight of the world’ that was on your back has actually transformed into a chip on your shoulder. You develop a bad attitude, look for people to dump on, to beat on, to vent your anger and frustration on. The source of your problems is everybody else, the responsibility for your mess is other people’s, and you may expect to be helped and supported because somehow you feel the world that was weighing you down now owes you a living.

Okay enough of the bad. Time for a reality check. You need the help of other people, but not the people you may have been speaking to. Your family and friends might actually be huge pieces of your problems. That advice you’ve been given, those messages they’ve been drilling into you, well, they may just be the opposite of what would help. So who CAN actually help you? Well a professional Counsellor sure can ease some of the load by listening to you in a non-judgemental way. If you want advice, they may give it, and certainly can connect you with other service providers that would be best for you depending on YOUR needs.

Financial debt might be best addressed through Debt Counselling and consolidating all those bills into one payment a month that would actually be lower than paying them all separately. Other options are drying out under supervision either through Alcoholics Anonymous or getting your addictions addressed through Drug Treatment centres. Your unemployment might actually be best left until you take care of some of these personal issues. After all, even if you got a job today, would you be able to perform well at it five days a week? Maybe applying for financial assistance is actually a better plan in the short-term.

Experienced helpers in Social Services and Humanities know that most of the people we provide help to, have to deal with a number of things, which typically we call barriers. Barriers to employment could be things like; lack of affordable housing, addictions, criminal records, few social supports, having less than grade 12, poor attitude, little work experience, having no references. The number one barrier however tends to be lack of self-motivation, and it’s hard to be self-motivated when you feel under attack and overwhelmed.

While most people will sympathize and hopefully empathize with your situation, even with a solid plan in place that will eventually lift the weight off your shoulders, it has to start initially with you. Please do yourself a favour and reach out. If it turns out that you don’t connect with someone who you go to for help, try someone else. They may tell you things you need to hear, but not always what you want to hear. Think over any advice you get and be open to consider taking that advice.

Even the smallest step forward is a step in the right direction.