Belinda Crosier, LPC, LADC
“It was the best of times – and the worst of times.” So reads a quote from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which could accurately describe the current economic climate in Oklahoma. We have enjoyed a mostly thriving economy in Oklahoma for some time, as evidenced by the multitude of new restaurants, bars & entertainment facilities, commercial construction and lower prices at the gas pump. Yet those lower gas prices come with a price. Lower oil prices have resulted in layoffs by some of the oil companies, and will no doubt have some trickle-down effect on other aspects of our economy. For some, the worst has come to pass, and for many others, the fear of a potential layoff is an ever-present anxiety that cycles up and down with the fluctuating economic indicators.
Sadly, too often there is some sort of shame inherent in being laid off, as if it was warranted or deserved. It may be difficult not to take it personally when it’s us, but a company’s bottom line does not discriminate on personal basis. I personally know someone who was laid off and suffered in embarrassed silence for weeks before sharing with friends that he was unemployed. Within a few weeks of disclosing his situation, a friend of a friend had put him in touch with someone & viola’ – he was once again working!
Layoffs are just one of those unfortunate events that can happen to anyone, like a hailstorm or being rear-ended at a stoplight. When it happens, you start networking, talking to people who might know of employment possibilities, just like you ask friends for recommendations of a roofing contractor or body shop. Being proactive can help prevent feelings of powerlessness & helplessness; if you think a layoff might be coming get that resume’ dusted off and updated. Start checking out the job market now so you have an idea what companies or industries are hiring and do some research on areas or companies you might want to consider.Losing a job is just that – a loss. With any loss there is usually a process of grieving, at least on some level. Initially there can be shock, especially if the layoff was unexpected, which can be immobilizing. There may also be some denial, a refusal to believe this is really happening, which can prevent taking constructive action, such as cutting back on expenditures or considering other options. Some will start catastrophizing in their minds, with worse-case scenarios, all the way up to winding up homeless and destitute, which is strong fuel for hopelessness, can lead to depression and accomplishes nothing. Anger can be a normal stage of the grief process. Feeling the situation is unfair is understandable, but trying to assign blame or responsibility is a waste of energy that could be better spent in problem-solving. Depression is also a natural part of grieving a loss, and where many people can become stuck and have great difficulty pulling themselves out. Action is the best antidote for depression: exercise (yes, I know you don’t feel like it, but do it anyway!), talk to people, research, brain storm, reassess priorities and make necessary lifestyle changes. While no one wants to lose their job and reduce their standard of living, there have been people for whom that has turned out to have some unexpected blessings. None of us like strife and struggle, but that’s usually when we learn and grow. Viewing the loss of a job as a temporary, but necessary, redirection, and being open to new possibilities and lessons, can make it less demoralizing.