When clients come to me for help with their careers they are usually at one of the lowest points in their life. Financially they are struggling, they lack purpose, pressure is mounting to find another job and their sense of identity has been stripped away. Their attitude towards themselves and others has changed.
What erodes rather quickly after job loss is compassionate self-observation. The inner critic, which exists within all of us, begins to take over and one can quickly lose sight of who they really are. The data that is collected and stored within the brain leans more to the negative and often isn’t a fully accurate reflection of self or the situation.
This is a particularly vulnerable time for clients, as the generosity and empathy first expressed by former colleagues, friends and family can start to lessen and loneliness sets in. They could also be experiencing an over-abundance of advice from well-meaning people which can lead to dependence or a feeling of being overwhelmed.
One of the first things we can all do to assist someone who has lost their job is to recognize that what we see on the surface is only representative of what they want to share. The rest is buried for personal protection.
The next step in the process is to help clients develop attitudes that support a compassionate path forward. We need to introduce an honest approach that connects the person to facts rather than fear induced worry. It’s a good idea to employ calming techniques, reconnect to self and others, open curiosity to make exploration both fun and meaningful, and find tools to regain confidence. It’s time for clients to stop looking at everything through the lens of shame.
Build up positive self-reflection so that the client can see how they are pulling themselves up and that they are in control of next steps. Far too often I see clients who have been manipulated (willingly and unwillingly) towards options that may not be in their best interest but they acquiesce because they don’t trust their own inner voice. This is a mistake. The inner guide/voice was there before job loss and must be allowed to remain vocal because the experience of losing one’s job is just another opportunity to practice their skills.
When we and our clients can use the power of compassion it can help shape their future in ways few could have predicted. It is freeing and the transformation between confusion, guilt, anger and shame to creativity, respect, connection and confidence is magnificent!