Job Loss and Unemployment

Dealing with losing employment

job loss "The loss of one's employment, especially involuntarily"
unemployment "The state of being unemployed, especially involuntarily"


What is it?

Experiencing job loss is different from the experience of changing jobs or professions. Job loss usually involves some element of shock. It is often an unexpected event and can be a blow to self-esteem and trust.

Unemployment on the other hand is the aftermath of job loss. It also can be a blow to self-esteem and self-confidence. Unemployment involves your sense of value, of your abilities. If you are traditionally the bread-winner of your relationship then it can be tied into your role in that relationship and can bring up fears of the relationship ending. 


When it becomes a problem

Job loss is an immediate problem for those experiencing it, but assuming they have skills that are valued by the community they live in there is some hope that the situation will be a short one. The shock of an unexpected firing can be a challenge, but with the knowledge that another job will be available for the skills that you have, it is not insurmountable. The real problem arises when jobs are scarce, or your skills are not highly-desired in the area where you can travel. This can create a high level of anxiety, fight or flight reaction, that can leave your body depleted at a time when your energy will be needed to put into locating suitable employment. Along with anxiety, you may be feeling issues arising from self-doubt about your value or your ability to perceive the warning signs. You might find yourself asking many questions that will have a direct impact on how you view yourself, such as "What did I do that got me fired?", "Why didn't I see this coming?", "Was this my fault or just company management reorganizing?", "How can I prevent this from happening again?". This experience can bring up a lot of unknowns and prompt self-reflection that might not be positive. You can expect that even if you are strong, and even if you are resilient, your self-esteem and confidence to be challenged by the process.

While the loss of a job is sudden, unemployment can be a long-term problem and can be much more damaging to our emotional state over time. Our society often places a lot of value on the work that an individual does so being out of work is often not a neutral state when viewed by others. We expect that each person will earn their keep, that they will provide some resources to their group, whether family or community, and that failing to do so means more work for everyone else. To view oneself as a burden to those around yourself can be a major challenge faced by those who find themselves losing their job and becoming unemployed. Unemployment challenges stem from the initial job loss stressors and self-questioning, multiplied by time. As time passes those challenges compound themselves and it becomes hard to convince yourself that initial doubts were unfounded.


What Can I Do To Deal

It is important to challenge any messages of unworthiness that you might be hearing from yourself, by remembering how valuable you are. Find small ways to see that, such as "My children's eyes light up when they see me., or "My partner is still in love with me." and emphasize to yourself that this is a small blip on the map of your life. What new parts of yourself can you acknowledge as you attempt to redefine yourself?

Why One-to-One Therapy Is Important

Therapy can play a vital role if you lose your job, or have a sudden career change that you did not anticipate. At first, the main thing to address is the feeling of it not being in your control. It feels much better to leave a job than it feels for the job to leave you. Together, you and your therapist can see how your self-worth and identity are wrapped up in your work, and your therapist can help you untangle that, so that you begin to value yourself outside of your achievements. You will feel a more sustainable sense of self-worth and value if you can connect to your purpose, and not only to your job. Your therapist will also help you see how your beliefs around work impact your relationships and help you to clearly define how you want to show up in each relationship in a new and positive way.


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