No matter the circumstances, getting fired or laid off is one of the ultimate rejections in life.
People who are let go from jobs actually experience a diminished ability to trust others for up to a full decade. Other research suggests that it can take longer to get over a job loss than the death of a loved one.
But why? Especially in a market where opportunities are plentiful?
For many people, a job is part of our identity so when an employer, business partner or client cuts ties, it feels like our confidence is being sucked right out of us. Even if we receive a severance or an explanation, it’s often not enough to stop us from having a self-pity party with our inner critic that whales, “Why me?” and “I’m a failure!”
Our brains interpret this kind of rejection as a threat to our identity, livelihood and reputation. Emotionally, we feel run over and in response to that, biology calls on the brainstem to protect us. We might react with anger, then feel sad, hurt, betrayed or helpless. These are normal human responses to being cast aside and we cycle through them, again and again. For some people, that cycle never ends.
When one suffers any kind of loss, it is common to grieve. We grieve the loss of our financial security, of knowing where we’re going and what we’re going to do when we get up in the morning. We grieve the loss of our work friends, pride in our accomplishments and even smaller things like not being able to introduce ourselves the way we used to.
So how can you rebuild your confidence after a setback like this?
1. Give yourself defined time and space to heal. Taking action before you’ve processed these feelings, trying to power through or fake it won’t work. But it’s also important to set a timeline and decide when you will be done mourning.
2. Refresh your network. There are many in-person and online groups that are specific for people in career transition where you can find confidence-boosting tips and advice..
3. Reframe the loss as a chance to get clarity of what you value, need and want from your next job, client or partnership.When you’re clear on that, you’ll be able to zero on opportunities that align with what’s best and most authentic for you.
4. Take this time to enhance your resume and online profiles. Ask people for informational interviews. Build a library of questions to help you gather data to feel more confident when looking for the next opportunity.
5. Be willing to believe there’s a chance this experience could later prove to be one of the best things to happen to your career. It may seem impossible right now, but talk to enough people and you’ll have evidence that shows that this experience may be painful, but will contribute to your overall growth and make you more confident in the future.