Job Loss Depression: 4 Insights on Coping & Moving On
In today’s economy, job loss, and with it, job loss depression can arrive with little warning. The first impulse can often be to simply strive to get a new job. But we may need more.
Some very important truths in job loss depression may need to take into our lives and our self-awareness. Some job loss consists of a more or less mechanical process of identifying and pursuing new opportunities. However, the kind that leads to deep job loss depression may well be associated with something like a psychological death and re-birth.
What can I do to cope with a reality like that? What does it all mean?
Allow Yourself to Feel the Loss
I remember when I lost a job. I was in such a rush to move on from that experience. Part of my inner self was just saying, “Let’s go. Don’t think about this or feel anything — it’s too scary. Just get that next job.”
Yet, sometimes, we’re just not ready for that next job. Certain types of psychological change may be needed first. Otherwise, we can end up stuck in the experience of the job loss, living and re-living it, over and over.
Figuring out how to move forward is vitally important. But first, it’s essential to be healthy about what you’re actually feeling in the midst of this experience. Repressing or denying those feelings will hinder coping.
It’s essential to ask yourself, “How does the loss of this particular job make me feel?” Do you feel grief or sadness as a result of the job loss? This is a particularly common feeling when someone loses employment they’ve had for a long time. Do you feel insecurity, or anxiety, or even fear? Such feelings are very common, even in the most successful people. Are you confronting feelings of being belittled, or shamed? Again, such feelings are extremely common. People also often feel anger or even rage. Psychotherapists know that, in major life transitions, it’s important to acknowledge, not repress, such feelings, as they can damage us.
Embody (Express) the Loss
Feeling the “loss” part of job loss is essential. As organizational psychologist Stephanie Spera and many others have shown, sometimes it’s essential to embody or express those feelings in some way. Here are some ways /a-midlife-transitions recommend to do that:
As this deck suggests, more is going on when we use these forms of expression than simply “getting out your feelings.” We get in touch with how this whole experience of job loss affects the deeper parts of the person, and how the self is responding to it. If you’re experiencing actual job loss depression, it’s important to recognize that deep levels of the person are feeling the loss and undergoing a process of transformation and adaptation in response to the change. Expressing or embodying what you’re feeling may help you to come to terms with what all this means for you, and how you might want and need to move forward with your life. Processing all of this with a competent /a-midlife-transition may also be important.
In the next post, we’ll examine how we can get beyond the negative and stigmatizing messages we often receive through job loss, and how we can start to find individual personal meaning and direction, as we move through the death and re-birth of career change.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst