This post is courtesy of Guest Blogger, Bridgette Carey.

Just a quick scroll through LinkedIn, and you will inevitably read a post about someone who has recently lost a job. There are plenty of articles and recommendations about how to find your next job, networking recommendations, and updating your resume. Yet, what about the emotional stages that you go through when you lose a job?

Through personal experience and diving deep into uncomfortable conversations with others, I have discovered that there are stages of Getting Let Go, very similar to stages of grief. No one ever wants to go through this hard part of their journey, but unfortunately, many of us will do so during our careers.

Have you ever been let go from a role you valued and felt dedicated to? If so, the following scenarios may resonate with you.

The message comes across Slack, or you get the Teams Meeting invite from HR. Maybe it’s the dreadful phone call. However it happens, it’s happening. Your heart and mind begin to race. You start to question every task, communication, project, and performance review. You begin to question yourself. Don’t deny it. You will begin to question yourself, no matter your achievements, seniority level, or accomplishments. Even before you have been told that your role is being eliminated, or you should part ways, or damn, it’s harsh to say, but you’re being fired…you enter the 1st stage of Being Let Go called Questioning.

  • What did I do wrong?”
  •  Who did I piss off?”
  •  Where did I fail?”
  •  Why is this happening to me?”
  •  When did this start to go wrong?”

Questioning keeps you rattled, on edge. It keeps you from going to sleep at night or can wake you up in a cold, heart-pounding sweat. Then, it happens. However they choose to inform you, no matter how prepared you feel, it sucks. Your head will spin, or you’ll feel anxious, but hold on. Ride this wave of very high emotion. It won’t last forever. And just like that, it’s done. It’s like ripping off a bandage, but very slowly and verrry painfully.

During this time, I recommend thinking of it as a sick day, a day of rest, or a day to just be. It’s easier said than done, but you are likely in a fragile or highly emotional state, so try to focus on taking care of yourself.

You will likely wake up one weekday morning, in semi-shock that you no longer have a work routine. Your days may seem so different. Perhaps the foreignness of this leaves your head spinning once again. This is the 2nd stage – Disbelief. It doesn’t feel real. Brain fog is common during this stage, along with bouts of overthinking. Sit with this for a while, but don’t dwell on it. Try to reframe your thinking.

I cant believe this happened, but I can figure out a new path.”

 This feels so odd and uncomfortable, but I am okay. I will be okay.”

It’s important not to ignore your thoughts, but it’s critical not to dwell on your negative emotions. Emotions are very powerful, but they are temporary. Trust your gut and ask yourself, What would I do on my day off?”  Perhaps go for a walk, get a coffee, work out, or clean. The point is that you absolutely have to do something. Take these first few days with as much ease as possible because your mind is likely still overwhelmed. If you feel like searching for a new role in the first few days, do it, but do so with caution. Give yourself some time and distance to process what happened. If you react too quickly, things may not turn out as you hoped.

Why do I say that?

Well, you will eventually reach Stage # 3—Anger.

Oh, you will feel this powerful stage. If you react too quickly, you may carry this negative emotion into your personal relationships or your next career move. Make no mistake—you need to go through this stage. It is overwhelmingly hard and intense, but it must happen. Why does this have to happen? You have likely dedicated a good portion of your life to your career, only to feel like you are now falling into the unknown. You worked hard and likely went above and beyond, yet here you are without a job at a place you were dedicated to. It stings so much.

So, as hard as it is, sit with it. Feel it. Deal with it. Whatever thoughts are flooding through you, making your heart and mind race, you have to feel them. Don’t push them away. Feeling this anger will not happen once and then go away. You may feel this stage for quite a while. Just ride the waves. This is where activities such as running/exercising, writing, talking to someone, and thinking through the situation are crucial. Within the first few weeks of not working, you will feel this over and over again. Or you may take that next position, and when you hit your first rough patch, it may feel bigger than usual. That’s overlapping anger from what happened.

You may feel you don’t deserve this current challenge because you should be in your old role. You may feel less patient with those close to you because you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and perhaps less than. Help yourself by owning your anger and identifying where it’s coming from. Your anger is justified and necessary for you to move forward. The Anger stage is very powerful and may overlap or feel like the 4th stage, which I creatively call Whiplash.

Whiplash can only be described as a combination of intense emotions like depression, embarrassment, waning confidence, anxiety, frustration, fear, and impatience. At any given time, you may feel any and all of these emotions about your current situation. I mean, I call it Whiplash for a reason!

  • No one will want to hire me.”
  •  What will they think of me if they know?
  •  Im not going to apply for that role. I won’t get it.”
  •  Why is my heart racing, and I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin?”
  •  Why wont someone hire me?”

It will be even harder if this happens during an interview. You will feel off your game and perhaps believe everyone else notices. But, they can’t. Everyone gets nervous in interviews at one time or another. Recognize that these intense emotions can override logical thinking if you let them. Try to reframe your thinking. Run a defense against the negative thoughts.

  • I will find a role that is the perfect fit for me. I have been hired before and will be again.”
  •  “I will be selective in who I tell about my situation. I am smart, strong, and resilient.”
  • Perhaps this role wasnt the best fit, but I will find one that is.”
  • I am feeling very anxious right now, but it will pass. These emotions are temporary.”
  • Finding a new job is challenging and takes time. I will find something.”
  • My worth is not based on my career. I can do this.”

I should mention that Whiplash will ebb and flow, sometimes like a stream and sometimes like a raging river. This is especially true if it takes some time to land your next opportunity.

It gets uncomfortable to keep explaining that you aren’t currently working. Stress kicks into gear while watching your savings account dwindle, so depression and anxiety can set in. Perhaps you get passed by for a role you thought was a sure thing, which can plummet your confidence for the next opportunity, leading to frustration and spiraling into fear, followed by worry over how things aren’t happening fast enough.

Whiplash.

Believe me when I tell you to hold on. Heck, listen to the Wilson Phillips song from the 90s if you have to, but please, hold on. Why? Because one day, you will realize that you aren’t in that meeting that you thought was a waste of time. You will understand why you aren’t in the same role that you dedicated so many hours to.

You will see your freedom – Stage # 5.

This looks different for everyone. It could be transitioning into a similar role at a different company. Or realizing you want to go back to school, pivot to a new career, or start something on your own. One day, you will find your freedom. Fear locks us into believing the worst. When, frequently, what seems to be the worst scenario turns out to be the best thing for us to GROW through. Right now, it may feel like something is being “done to you.” Really, it is something that is moving you forward and allowing you to grow.

You and Wilson Phillips need to Hold On to that.

It happened. You were let go. You will go through many of these stages, but please hear me when I say this:

Bio: Bridgette Carey is a marketing professional, writer and recent self-published fiction author. She is passionate about writing and sharing personal experiences in hopes of helping push others forward on their own life’s journey. https://www.bountifulbridge.com/about

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