How To Survive Unemployment

How To Survive Unemployment

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by Outside-In® Career Transition Coach

One of the toughest things about losing your job is the mind games that you play with yourself. Feelings of guilt, isolation, financial worries, what ifs, spousal/family issues, and even the sense of helplessness can be overwhelming. But guess what… you’re not alone and even better, a new book offering a wealth of strategies and ideas has been published: Keeping Your Head After Losing Your Job, by Robert L. Leahy, PhD.

I think this book is so powerful that it should accompany every layoff notice, pink slip, outplacement package, and maybe even unemployment check that’s issued.

Leahy practices cognitive therapy which in laymen’s terms means he works with people to examine their thoughts, what led to them, how accurate their thoughts are, what proof supports these thoughts and in fact, how practical are they. For example, we feel discouraged and think: “I’ll never get another job.” Leahy would then ask: “how many jobs have you gotten in life so far” and “how many people with your background never get a new job?”

His messages can snatch us out of those deep holes that inevitably capture job seekers in the isolation of our minds and home offices. That’s why the cover illustration highlights the first part of the book’s title, “Keepin Your Head…” over the “losing your job” part. He really focuses on changing the way we think, mostly about ourselves, and the influence that more positive perspectives can have on us, our families, and ultimately our job searches.

Throughout the book are practical exercises that help us realize the importance of proactive thinking and planning and how we can change our mindsets about the various challenges of unemployment. After analyzing the inevitable frustrations and troubling feelings of unemployment/job searching, Leahy approaches these challenges with chapters that really question our negative thoughts, offers exercises designed to help us think more positively and take action, and examples of people who have succeeded not only in landing new jobs but in changing their tough thinking patterns.

Here are just a few of his empowering chapter titles:

  • You Have A Right To Your Feelings and the Ability To Change Them
  • Take Action
  • Build Your Self Esteem
  • Don’t Get Stuck In Your Head (a really powerful section)
  • Helping Each Other: For Partners and Families
  • Get Outside Yourself
  • Taking Care of Yourself

I found the Don’t Get Stuck In Your Head chapter to be most striking and reflective of Leahy’s ability to seemingly get inside my mind and maybe a lot of other people’s as well. He used the word rumination to describe out-of-control thinking that may start with a rejection letter and progress through ‘I’ll never get another job, I’ll loose my house, I’ll be homeless!’ Then he skillfully walks readers out of that rumination trap.

Although his background as a Clinical Professor of Psychology at the Weill-Cornell University Medical School and Honorary Lifetime President of the New York City Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Association, among others, is quite impressive, I’m still asking myself, “when has this guy ever been unemployed?” Either he spent time in my head (and maybe your’s) or he’s a complete empathy genius! I think it’s the latter.

The other chapter that hit home for me addressed the importance of maintaining your health and pursuing regular exercise while you’re between jobs. “Exercise? I should be job hunting!” Leahy paraphrases us scolding ourselves if we take time to go running or bicycling. Yes! is my and Leahy’s answer. The time between jobs is extremely stressful and therefore a very important time to pay attention to your health. Plus, Leahy points out that even the most aggressive job search isn’t going to require eight hours a day (I knew it!). So planning exercise time even as a break from your computer and phone is an effective strategy.

Unemployment is very isolating. Go right now and get Keeping Your Head After Losing Your Job. You need and deserve Dr. Robert Leahy’s company!

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