• Charlotte Worth

Redundancy - It's not your fault!

The current situation has resulted in a lot of us losing our jobs, being furloughed, or for freelancers the phone has just stopped ringing. This is a tough issue to deal with at the best of times, let alone when we are in lockdown with all the other worries that come with this situation. No matter how rational a person you usually are, it is hard to stop those niggling thoughts come into your head that question whether it might have been a judgement on your abilities, likeability etc. Plus, it can really knock your confidence.

Losing your job, at any time can be extremely stressful, but in this current climate it probably feels worse, as all the rules are different. It doesn’t even really help that it’s not just you that it is happening to. That people all around the world are going through a similar scenario, because only you are living your life. Only you can hear the thoughts racing around your head. Only you and your family know what is going on in your world and how this will affect your lives both in the short term and the long term.

Remember as little as three months ago nobody anticipated that we would be in this situation, so none of us could have prepared for it. Normally when we are let go, there are indicators along the way to help us prepare for what is about to happen, even if we didn’t want to see them. With the situation we are in now, there was no warning. It just happened. So, it is completely understandable that you are in shock.

A big part of assimilating the redundancy process is to try and understand the reasons why it happened and realising it wasn’t because you didn’t fit in, didn’t work hard enough or didn’t make your sales target. There is always a logical, financial reason behind such decisions. It is rarely ever personal. In this case COVID19 happened. It turned your company’s world upside down. Even the most financially secure companies have buckled under the pressure to cope with the scenarios they are currently facing.

Sadly, we are in it now and unless you are superhuman you are probably going through a vast array of emotions that are normally associated to grief. Shock and denial, anger, depression, loss of confidence….and more. This is completely normal, and it is our brains way of processing it all.

Emotional shock can affect us in so many different ways:

  • You feel exhausted, even though you haven’t done anything. Plus it’s also a time when insomnia can rear its evil head.

  • Your brain feels like it has been filled with cotton wool and you are walking through treacle. Everything might also start to feel really surreal and you might feel like you are in someone else’s life or are watching yourself from a distance.

  • You might start to feel afraid and this will probably be heightened by all the things that are going on in the news, and possibly in your life. This is because something has happened that you didn’t expect and had no way of preventing. It makes you feel unstable and that everything is now unpredictable.

  • There are sometimes even physical side effects. This is because your brain has triggered its fight or flight response, which sends a mass of chemicals and hormones around your body that can cause your heart to beat faster, your muscles to tense, your stomach to feel queasy or give you a headache.

  • It can also make us irrational and emotional.

There is no predicted timeline for how long this will last, it could be hours, days, even weeks. It really does depend on you as an individual and what else is going on in your life now or in the past, as it could re-trigger old issues. The most important thing at this stage is to be gentle on yourself. Accept the emotions and go with them. If you can, explain what you are going through to those around you and discuss how you are feeling. This will hopefully help you to work your way through those feelings.

People who are in shock do not tend to hear and see things as they really are, so no matter how many times people tell you that it is nothing to do with you as a person, you won’t believe them. You are in denial. Denial is our brains way of protecting us from the pain. In times before lockdown, denial for some people has been so bad, that they kept turning up to work. However, at some point we do need to move forward. To do this we have to accept the situation. So, try telling your friends and family what has happened. Open up to them. Remember you have nothing to be ashamed of. This is not a reflection on you as person.

Once you have ploughed through denial, then the anger will probably kick in. This is natural even if you understand the reasons why this is happening. You are angry because your life has been disrupted in a way that you had not planned and had no control over. Even though in reality you know it is not your company’s fault, in fact it is no one’s fault, it is still OK to be angry. There is no point trying to fight that feeling, run with it and let it out in a safe manner. Again, it would be really helpful if you are able to talk through your feelings with someone, but make sure that they are happy to be your sounding board and be ranted at. Anger is part of our evolutionary code and in earlier times it was how we would fight off danger to ourselves and our wellbeing. So, accept that it is a completely natural feeling, go with it, but also try and understand that long term anger will not help you in the long run. Hopefully accepting it will enable you to eventually calm down and help you to focus on getting through the situation.

Once the anger has dispersed then you might start to feel depressed. This is one of the most common side effects in this kind of situation. This can be for all kinds of reasons, such as your confidence has taken a bashing, you are worrying about your finances or your other responsibilities and can’t see a way out of this living nightmare that you have found yourself in.

I am not going to tell you that it will be alright, because I don’t know that, but what I can try and do is help you through the next stage so that you can start to see a clearer path. Even if that really does feel impossible at the moment.

At the moment I am sure you are feeling completely overwhelmed and helpless with no idea how you are going to get yourself out of this quagmire that you have found yourself in. You may not be able to do so immediately, but there are probably things that you can do to start things moving.

One way that I often ask my clients to do this is to work out what you can take control of, what you can potentially Influence and what really is impossible and beyond your control. There are many ways to do this and will depend on how you brain likes to work. I find putting it into different lists works for me.

Firstly, write out a list of everything that is causing you stress and worry. Then look at each one and consider the following:

  • Can you fix it on your own without needing anyone else's help or input? If so, write this worry in the Within My Control/ Change section.

  • If you can partially resolve the worry item put it in the Partial Control / or Potentially Influence the Outcome section.

  • If there is nothing you can do that can directly impact this worry put this in the Beyond My Control.

Once you have written out all your ‘Stress and Worry Items' in the relevant area, it is time to review each one and really think of what you can do to resolve them.

  • First look at the problems that you do have control over. Now is the time to identify an action for each one and try and achieve one a day. Maybe even do one right now to start that process of regaining control.

  • For the items you have partial control or influence over, write down the steps you will need to take and exactly when you will do them - today or in the next few days.

  • Finally (and most importantly) for all the worries in the Cannot Control section, JUST LET THEM GO! Cross them all off the list. Or even better screw up the paper that you have written these bits on and throw it in the bin. It's a complete waste of energy (and big stress increaser) to worry about things you can do nothing about. Instead focus your energy on the things that are within your control and that you can influence.

Hopefully by breaking everything down into more manageable chunks your head will start to clear, and you will be able to then focus on looking for a job or taking this opportunity to reinvent yourself.

It is also essential that you try and stay motivated throughout all of this. For some this can be challenging, but by staying motivated you are again taking control of the situation. It’s about deciding whether this situation is going to beat you or if you are going to rise up and fight back. It may take time to get yourself another job, but if you stay confident and determined then the whole process will be much more manageable. Try and set yourself a daily routine and differentiate the weekdays from the weekend. Once, you are up and dressed, make sure the first task of the day is job search related. It can be anything from updating your CV to contacting your networking and getting the word out there that you are available for work. Perhaps do some volunteer work or upgrade your skills and do some online courses (I gave some examples of where to do this in my last blog here). Most importantly keep busy.

By doing all of this you will keep your confidence up, your brain working and hopefully find the determination to get through this. However, most importantly give yourself time and space to sort through everything. Obviously, some things will need to be worked out sooner rather than later, but for those that don’t, take a break from it all and focus on things that make you happy……well as much as you can whilst in lockdown.

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