January 28, 2019

When Faced With Unemployment

Anxiety & Depression
Identity Development

If you’ve recently changed vocations or surprisingly become unemployed, you’ll know that unemployment is an unpredictable experience. Our careers and jobs are an important source of income and financial stability, but they’re also a significant part of our social and personal identity. This is why loss of employment can send us through the ups and downs of grief as if we lost someone important in our lives. We can vacillate from feeling despair to feeling hopeful then back down to purposelessness. It is an anxiety-inducing time of our lives, even if we have been preparing for it. If you are going through this period of uncertainty, here are few areas to focus on to help keep yourself from falling into the trap of powerlessness and keep your eyes on re-employment.

Redefining Your Role in the Family

Not only do you lose your role in work, but your role in the family will likely change. If you were the breadwinner of the household, you will have to adjust to the sudden shift in responsibilities. Rather than view these changes as a loss of personal power or capability, it is important to maintain the perspective that this shift in role is not because of a personal failing. This is a temporary situation and you’re adjusting to ensure that the household is running effectively as possible. What are new ways you can provide and take care of you and your family? What are ways you can be proactive with a new budget?

Don’t Neglect Yourself

There are bills to pay and family to take care of, so it is easy to lose sight of how to take care of ourselves during this time. Especially with sudden unemployment, we will be tempted to throw ourselves at any opportunity to make sure money is coming in. Through this process, we will likely forget about or consciously neglect how we are doing in order to provide for ourselves and our families. While our responsibilities are priority, we must find an appropriate balance with our own self-care. Neglecting taking care of ourselves or taking a moment to do something we enjoy will further fuel the feeling of despondency. If anything, make sure you take time to gather yourself before jumping into the job hunt if the news of unemployment is totally unexpected. With a lower budget, think of new or creative ways for recreation and leisure activities.

Reflect On The Positives

Sudden job loss brings about many negative feelings and stressors, but an important part of staying on our feet and searching for a new job is recognizing the positives. Recognize that there might be a chance to re-prioritize our goals in life, spend more quality time with children or family, become more involved in other social groups, or an opportunity to redefine us. Now reflecting on the positives is not a tool to distract or escape from our responsibilities. It is a steadying block that keeps us from falling into hopelessness and turn our attention toward where do we want to go in life from here.

There’s Hope

Dealing with job loss is not easy, but never forget that you still have the power to steer the direction of your life. It is easy to fall into the feelings of hopelessness and purposelessness. Remember that these feelings are only temporary and don’t let them keep you from pursuing where you want to be. You will gravitate toward your weaknesses, but instead turn your focus toward your strengths and what your passionate about doing.


If you are dealing with these feelings on your own, do not hesitate to reach out. We can discuss ways to help you bring about that feeling of positivity and hope, and take time together to map out your next steps toward employment.

Written by therapist Daniel Pak

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