Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Dealing with Job Loss

You lost your job and think you can put your feelings aside and march on. You think the harder and faster you run from the disturbing feelings that come from any loss, the faster you’ll recover. Not so.

In his new book, “Self-Talk for a Calmer You,” Behavior Coach Beverly D. Flaxington provides help in acknowledging the grief that comes with any loss, as well as some steps to apply in form of mental exercises, to help you recover.

To begin, he says, recognize that grieving is normal, and you must find ways to deal with it because “negative self-talk” and ruminations associated with the person, or event, that is lost will pull you in day by day.

It’s crucial, he believes that you employ “positive self-talk” exercises to combat them and help you work through that grief to eventually come to a better place. Otherwise, you may find yourself grieving for that person, job or event the rest of your life. And that ISN’T normal.

Here are some other suggestions from Flaxington:

Because you’re dealing with a hole, or a void, a loss of some kind, you may not be able to imagine a successive or positive outcome. To combat that, start by writing down a few ideas about what that loss means to you. Write how it affects you and how that makes you feel.

The second step is to review what you wrote and circle any words that stand out to you as high impact. Those are the ones that catch your attention as you read them. Ask yourself which really drag you down emotionally—and those are your emotional “triggers” that cause you special pain and anxiety.

Consider when it’s time to end formal grieving and begin to close that loop and begin thinking of the incident, or person, in another way.

Consider that loss is a natural part of life and, after grieving, you can move on when you decide you’ve given enough of your life to that and are ready to move on. You may tell yourself, “I suffered; I mourned, I always will miss that job, or person, but I’m ready to see what the next phase of my life will bring.”

Face that the void must be filled, and your next step is to find someone or something to refill it. Join a support group, go out with friends, and/or volunteer to help a community resource organization. Then try and make the decision that you are finished mourning and ready to move on to a better place.

“Dealing with loss is difficult, but it’s something every human being has to face in one way or another,” Flaxington writes. “Grieving and mourning is natural and has its place.”

In many cases, though, it’s necessary to go through this process for quite a while before you reach a mindset that will enable you to really start searching for a new job and, hopefully, a new beginning. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to take that space.


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