Dealing with Layoffs, 5

January 23, 2009

I lost things that were valuable to me. And when this experience hit me many years ago I learned lessons that have helped me through all these years. I was holding a leather briefcase that was barely 4 months old, inside it was my laptop computer, my cell phone, my books, my passport, my airline tickets and all these were stolen in Linate Airport, Milan.

As I stood inside that airport recovering from the shock of the realization that my briefcase has been stolen, I realize that there I went through 5 emotional stages very quickly in my mind. Today I have learned that whether you lose a job, or you lose a loved one or you lose your briefcase; the same stages of emotions hit you right in the face and the key here is to identify which emotional stage you are in so that you can move on and do the next right thing.

So you’re out of a job. You’ve been laid off. The first stage you have to pass through as we talked about it yesterday is the stage of mourning your loss. Now you go to the next step which is to identify which emotional stage you are in so you can pass it through time:

Understand this. The aftereffects of job loss are similar to the stages of grieving that follow divorce or the death of a loved one. Or may I add, the loss of a leather briefcase.

Here are the stages:

1. Denial

You say to yourself, “No this is a joke. This is not happening. It’s just a dream. In a little while I’m gonna wake up and all these would go away. Maybe my briefcase was misplaced. Maybe somebody simply took it by mistake and will have the golden heart to return it to me. “Maybe all of these will be resolved. The company will reinstate us back pretty soon and my job continues. There is a denial at this point.
Watch this. “Maybe the rumor about my husband’s unfaithfulness is just what it is – a rumor.” “Maybe he’s not really stealing our money, he’s just borrowing some of it.”

Denial. It all starts here. I looked around, I realized that the only place where I put my briefcase was on top of the airport luggage cart. And it’s not there. No use denying that one. I quickly graduated to the second emotional stage.

2. Bargaining

You begin to plead. You’ve negotiated your way out of a difficult situation before. And now you’re doing it again. “If I can just report this to the airport police, then maybe they can block the whole place off – you know – like what you see in the movies – they will send in their SWAT team or maybe the DELTA Force led by none other than Chuck Norris himself and then the culprit will be caught red-handed and my briefcase will be returned.

Maybe if we can just talk it out with management or do something to force their hands into reinstating us back, then we’ll have our jobs back.

Look at this scenario… maybe I can just talk with her peacefully. To tell her to leave my husband alone. Then our marriage will return to normal. This is the negotiating and the bargaining stage. And when I realized that the airport police was not going to declare a state of emergency on my account, when I realized that tourists are being ripped off everyday in many of the world’s major airports and train stations and that I happen to make someone richer that day, then I realize I cannot negotiate my way out of the situation so I graduate into the next stage of emotions and this is:

3. Anger

Those lazy security people. Stupid airport and I even went to the extent of thinking what a country that was – not being able to secure the safety and security of their visitors. My mind began blaming their government, their parliament. Angry at my own stupidity and carelessness. Angry for the policemen’s total lack of concern. Angry at the world.

You feel cheated. You feel it’s unfair. You’ve worked hard and you’ve been efficient and now they’re taking your job away from you. You begin to think of those who remained with the company and you look at them with contempt. This is what anger does.

You hate that other woman. You hate your husband. You hate his betrayal, his total lack of concern for the kids. You begin to see mental scenes of how you’re going to pour acid on his face and rip the hair off her head. Explosive. Destructive. This is what anger is capable of. Suddenly unprintable vocabulary you never knew was there came flying out of your mouth. And like a well-timed bomb – anger explodes and when the dust is settled you graduate to the next emotional stage which is: depression.

But let me end with a note of caution. Anger is dangerous and anger destroys. While it is true that part of our design is to have the ability to feel anger but we are not to harbor it for it seeks to destroy.

This is why the Word of God says that we are not to let the sun go down on our anger and in our anger we should not sin. Don’t forget. Anger is simply one letter short of danger.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Fortune

    What you said here were all true! i too had them when i lost my job (coupled with many shadows TRAILING me)…but the “moving on” part was the hardest!
    Sad thing was that i was not aware that i was sinking deeper and deeper with it and to make things worst…it was double whammy “Denial+Depression”…all these for about 2 years!
    Now, i am trying really hard to live my life in the way that i hope i would be productive and be a model to my children…
    more power to you sir!….
    Kong See Fa Chai!

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