The Shame of Losing a Job

Have you ever read an article with this title?

I don’t think so.

There aren’t any articles with this title, as far as I know. Unfortunately, there is a hidden, unexpressed feeling of shame- especially in Western society-that comes with the loss of a job, and this is sad, provoking, and unfair.

Am I right?

In the current recession, when thousands of people are losing their jobs, we need to find a way to help them, not to blame them. Unfortunately, unemployment is very often associated with self-criticism and deterioration in mental health.

The tricky question is: How can we help the unemployed? Whatever difficult advice we may have to give, it’s surely no comparison with the challenge of losing a job.

When people lose their jobs, their savings, or their homes, they are losing much more than just work or money. They are losing human dignity, self-pride, independence, self-confidence, and positive feelings about life. In one way they lose their view of the future, and yes, they feel shame as well.

The question to unemployed workers is: Are you unemployed, but still motivated and in “good mental shape,” or are you unemployed and feeling discouraged and helpless?  This is a crucial question.

Feeling discouraged, unmotivated, and emotionless can’t help anyone find another job, even if they have a good education and many years of experience or good connections.

Do you know the reason why that is true?

The reason is very simple and has been known for many years: Only positive emotional support, motivational feedback, and a sense of feeling good can help one to overcome the emotional pain of losing a job. To feel good about oneself is not about what’s happening in the outside world, but how you feel inside. If you feel empty inside, the whole world could be full of promising opportunities, but it won’t do you any good. Your thoughts, level of self-esteem, and way of understanding will determinate your overall personal experience. Being depressed and hopeless, with no faith or self-respect (low self-esteem), will not lead to a new job.

Success, productivity, joy, and happiness depend on the most powerful force in life: Self-esteem. Self-esteem is your opinion about yourself, how you value yourself, and how you see yourself.

Your life experience, way of thinking, and interpretation of your current situation will determine your level of self-esteem; in other words, your success.

Before entering the job market again, it is a good idea to check your self-esteem, using one of the many tests available on the Internet. Remember: The most important thing is always what you are thinking about your current situation.

For people who understand the concept of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and accept its explanations, it is easy to understand why self-esteem is so important.

The good thing about low self-esteem is that you can improve it. A negative view of your self is not a fact; it’s just a personal view and understanding about your self. If you develop a realistic system of value (self-esteem) about yourself, you can avoid being so vulnerable to painful situations in your personal life.

The experience of being out of work can leave you depressed, emotionless, angry, and apathetic. One way to overcome these negative feelings is to stay active, productive, and creative.

Searching for a new job is your first priority, but don’t forget to be involved with social life. Don’t cut yourself off from your environment. Ask for help, others’ opinions, and connections. You can attain positive emotions from constructive feedback, which can help you to overcome emotional pain.

Take action to prevent feelings of guilt, regret, and frustration. With action, you will regain control of your life.

If you want to overcome low self-esteem, try to respect and forgive yourself, despite your current situation. Feeling good about your self is the road to success, happiness, and joy.

Understandably, at times like these, any advice sounds like preaching, which I don’t want to do. My intention with this article is to clarify some basic knowledge of human nature. If we know why we feel embarrassed or shameful, and how to overcome these negative feelings, we are on the way to recovery. You must accept that blaming yourself for this difficult situation will not help you in any way. Only self-respect will give you the right tools and direction toward finding your new job.