Upton: Find hope after losing your job

Upton: Find hope after losing your job

July 9th, 2009 by Tabi Upton in Health

You are suddenly unemployed. Terminated. Let go. How do you begin moving on?

The jobless rate has climbed to levels not seen in a quarter century, double what it was in 2004. In The "Survivor's Guide to Unemployment," author Tom Morton discusses the impact sudden job loss can have on a person's psyche -- there is fear, frustration, denial, confusion, even despair.

We find out who our true friends are. Sometimes we suffer the humiliation of losing a home, or simply struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Losing a job can be frightening, but it is possible to ride it out and even change your situation in the midst of difficulty.

Once you find out you are suddenly unemployed, focus and get busy. Schedule an appointment to talk to a wise friend or counselor and apply for unemployment benefits if you are eligible. This builds a momentum before the initial shock becomes paralysis.

Denial often affects those who are unemployed in interesting ways. People have been known to act as though there is nothing wrong, even to the point of pretending to go to work for a time after and hiding out until time to return home. Others throw parties right after losing their jobs or go shopping. You may find that your self-esteem has taken a hit and you must reassess who you are and what gives you value. Facing the facts in a calm and productive way is easier said than done, but it can be accomplished with the help of supportive others.

Sit down and write out a plan of action. Create a budget, and figure out what you can cut out immediately. Write out possibilities for temporary employment, housing, and emotional support. Let people know you are looking so that they can help you network.

For a period of time, your lifestyle will probably have to be adjusted. You may have to take a job that you do not like or accept help when it feels very humbling. These things are not easy, but still manageable.

In the midst of all this, there are often small nuggets of value to be uncovered. Some realize that they now have the freedom to do what they've longed to do all along. It may be to write, or to go back to school, or to move from corporate America to a helping profession.

Courage is required to live frugally and uncertainly while looking toward a new future. Others find that when the chips are down, they really do have people to lean on. Some realize that their priorities had been out of whack for sometime, and needed readjusting. One may finally understand what others have endured and increase in empathy and compassion.

The fact remains that 90 percent of us are still working. We should be willing to lend a hand to those around us who are not: Even if it's a simple but thoughtful tip about a job announcement or opening, an anonymous donation, or emotional support. We are truly all in this together.

Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a therapist at Richmont/CBI Counseling Center. E-mail her at tabiupton@bellsouth.net.