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Job Loss Depression: 4 Insights on Coping & Moving On, 2

May 25th, 2015 · job loss depression

How can job loss depression be meaningfully transformative?  As we started to examine in my last post, a lot hinges on the meaning we assign to the experience.

job loss depression

Relax and wash off the outdated persona…

There is a great deal that depends on the story that we tell ourselves about a job loss.  It matters a lot whether we accept the kind of collective messaging around job loss that is prevalent in the society around us.  Or, do we see job loss in the broader context of our own journey, and of becoming the individual that we most fundamentally are?

Beyond Negative Messages Around Job Loss

Commonly, those who are subject to job loss depression have been subjected to some very negative, often extremely hurtful messaging and labeling at the time the individual suffers job loss. This can come in the form of comments from the employer or from coworkers. There are also very powerful negative collective messages that our society gives about those who have lost jobs, or who are unemployed. Psychotherapists know that this kind of messaging disparages the character, motivation or competencies of the person who has lost their job.

The sad truth is that this kind of labeling often serves to protect the labeler from fear or anxiety. If I can convince myself that someone whom I label is deficient in character or work ethic, and convince myself that I do not share these flaws, then I feel safe. I feel reassured that I do not have to fear losing my job. Whereas the reality for many people in 2015 is actually that employment is uncertain and precarious.

job loss depression

…pretty precarious…

In most cases, when someone is let go from an organisation, it is not because they are incompetent or morally defective. Yet the individual who loses their job can often become focused upon, and obsessed with, such negative messaging.  The individual can allow it to erode his or her sense of dignity and self esteem.

To find healing in a situation of job loss depression, it is essential that the individual develop a more complete awareness of identity beyond the work role.  The fact that an employer sees the individual’s identity in narrow and diminished terms does not determine who the person actually is.  A key role of good psychotherapy is to help maintain a psychologically healthy sense of identity, which is of immense benefit to our society, as this Globe and Mail article recently pointed out:

job loss depression

Often a secure sense of identity requires individuals to loosen the identification between who they are, and the job that they do.

What Does the Job Loss Mean?

One way of looking at the realities of job loss is to see it as a rite of passage, the movement from one phase of our lives to another.  Our forebears, and those who belong to indigenous societies understand the importance of major life events, and the way that human beings come to terms with them.  They understand that there is a three stage process that is involved in the a major change in the identity of a human being like a job loss, and they use ritual to integrate the change into the psyche, and to adapt to a new reality.  We could call this an archetypal process, in three stages: 1) death to the former working identity; 2) a liminal or “in between” stage; and, 3) re-birth into a broader and more individual sense of identity.

Retelling the story of job loss from the perspective of rite of passage can have a genuinely healing effect on job loss depression.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

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Job Loss Depression: 4 Insights on Coping & Moving On

May 19th, 2015 · job loss depression

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.

job loss depression

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.

job loss depression

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 depth psychotherapists 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 depth psychotherapist 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

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Shaking the Foundations: Can I Survive Relationship Breakdown? #2

May 11th, 2015 · relationship breakdown

In my last post, we started to look at ways to both survive and to ultimately “come through” relationship breakdown that preserve personal authenticity, meaning and value.

relationship breakdown

Last time, we looked at some very immediate steps that a person might take to “keep the ship upright’ in the aftermath of relationship breakdown.  This time, we’ll look at some things that are a little more oriented to the longer term.

Don’t Get Lost in Technology

relationship breakdown

This is a point that’s particular to our time. In the aftermath of a relationship breakdown, it is very easy, in our time, to seek social connection through social media, like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, if the social media can be a true connection to the type of in-depth encounter with others that people really need. The trouble is, that in our time, it’s very easy for the social media to become a shallow substitute for real interaction. There are very many people who are in a state something like addiction to social media, for whom the “buzz” of social media acts as a substitute for any kind of genuine encounter with the other.

People need others to see and appreciate them in their uniqueness. Oftentimes, social media can give the illusion of this type of contact with others, but with no connection of real substance. Social media can also prevent us from having a genuine deep and lasting relationship with ourselves.  By all means use them, but please also recognize the need for genuine and deep encounter with others!

Listen to Your Dreams

The unconscious mind responds to the emotional impact of relationship breakdown.   Depth psychotherapists know that often dreams will reflect the actual grieving process of losing a relationship.  Understanding the symbolism and emotional importance of dreams can be a source of real healing in the process of moving through the loss.  Dreams may also show us some of the things we need to face and embrace in the course of moving through the loss of relationship.  They may well point us toward things we need to realize about our inmost selves as we struggle to deal with loss.  They may also help us to realize the ways in which a relationship breakdown connects with experiences from earlier in our lives, which may help us to understand the process that we are going through in new ways.

As neuropsychologist Mark Solms and others have shown, the unconscious mind doesn’t use the kind of rationality that characterises the conscious mind.  It’s often capable of showing us the connections between things in our lives in a new way.  Sometimes the unconscious can show us the way through situations like loss and relationship breakdown in ways that are quite simply beyond the capacity of the conscious mind.  In C.G. Jung’s words:

relationship breakdown

Turning from the “Magical Other” to Ourselves

One of the essential things that comes forward to us from relationship breakdown is a single, overwhelmingly powerful but very difficult truth.  As James Hollis and others describe it, it is the deep seated, fallacious fantasy that:

…out there somewhere is some “Magical Other” who will rescue us.

Relationship breakdown takes us to the point where we realize that we cannot blame others for our lives, and that we can’t avoid facing the loneliness that is an inherent part of those lives.  Relationship breakdown can be a key point at which we realize that we have to genuinely explore our own lives, and start to really find out who we are, in our conscious and unconscious entirety.

Do Something to Move Towards the Self

Relationship breakdown may be accompanied by a summons from deep within us to move towards the Self.  We may well not recognize it as that.  It may be that a “door opens”, and we all of a sudden are captivated by a possibility that we weren’t aware was there, even a brief while ago.  We may be inexplicably drawn to something that attracts us for no reason that we’re aware of.  Can we have the courage to explore these “strange attractors”, as some depth psychotherapists call them?  They might just point us in the direction of wholeness and healing.

It may also be important to seek out the right kind of affirming therapy or counselling may be very important in this process.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

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Shaking the Foundations: Can I Survive Relationship Breakdown? #1

May 4th, 2015 · relationship breakdown

Relationship breakdown is greatly feared and brings many people into therapy.  Are there ways to survive, and to “come through” that preserve meaning and value in life?

relationship breakdown

In this post and my next one, I’ll be looking at concrete steps that a person can take to survive and ultimately move beyond relationship breakdown.

1. Accept & Acknowledge Relationship’s Ending

This sounds incredibly simple. Yet it may prove very difficult. It can be a struggle to come to terms with our denial of an ending. Often we may intellectually accept that a relationship with a lover a partner or a very close friend has come to an end, but the emotional and feeling level parts of the self may not be ready to accept this loss, as depth psychotherapists well know.

People can go for years in a state of denial. Yet, for life to flow, it’s essential to find the courage to fully acknowledge to ourselves that the relationship is over.

It may be essential to take formal explicit steps to live out the reality that the relationship is over. This may be where a ritual or other kind of symbolic act fits in.  It’s very important to allow the deepest self to experience the visceral, felt, emotional reality of relationship’s end.

Connected with this is the need to let things go.   It can be very important not to hang on to or to ruminate over the trappings or memories of the relationship.   In the aftermath of a relationship, if a lot of our energy is going into looking through old photo albums and remembering happier times in the relationship,  or alternately rehearsing situations from the relationship and thinking about what we would have / should have / could have done,   we are running the risk of living out  the archetypal reality embodied in the biblical story of Lot’s wife, who kept looking back,  and turned into a pillar of salt (read: bitterness).

2. Be Particularly Compassionate Towards Yourself

relationship breakdown

Right at the time of relationship breakdown, it will often be very important to be very kind to yourself.

Please be aware that you are going through something very hard, and very stressful in its demands on your physical self. If you can, please do kind things to your long-suffering body and your tender, inmost self.

Do not drive yourself like a harsh taskmaster. Do not let your inner criticism rip you up. Take time for yourself. Give yourself gifts, like a warm relaxing bath, listening to your favorite music, or walking in nature.

Treat yourself like you would your best friend, because, as depth therapy affirms, you are your best friend.

3. Deepen Your Connection with Your Real Identity

As James Hollis points out, this might be an important time, in a very compassionate way, to connect with who you really are.  Certainly  soulful people will be exploring and deepening their understanding of themselves for the their whole lives, as a work in progress.  Yet, it may be very important and very healing to connect with as much of our identity as we can at a time like this.

Here are some key questions that may help with getting in touch with your core identity:

It may help to speak to someone else about this; this is the kind of work that’s often aided by depth psychotherapy.

4. Seek Out Hope & Affirmation

relationship breakdown

At the time of relationship breakdown, who you choose to interact with makes a big difference.  It’s essential to connect with people who can offer you real support.  The people who can offer you genuine connection to life and hope.  It’s advantageous to put your effort into finding people who can affirm you and your life, rather than people who will simply offer pity, or tell you how awful it is.  Often, these are people who’ve been through some real and difficult things in their own lives.

It may also be important to seek out the right kind of affirming therapy or counselling.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

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