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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Relax and wash off the outdated persona…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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© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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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

PHOTOS IN POST & SLIDESHARE:  Attribution Share Alike  ©  Frank BostonDavid Wilson ; photosteve101 ;  Bosc d’Anjou (photo of Kerry James Marshall painting) ; Women’s Studio Workshop ; Jim Oliver ; Keoni Cabral
© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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