Last week I was talking with a friend who is going through a divorce.
I asked her “do you feel like you constantly have to defend yourself?”
She said “every minute.”
In a divorce, it seems like friends and family choose sides… which means they have to evaluate which of the two is “right,” or “more right.”
That means there is one side that is “more wrong.”
And both husband and wife feel like they are continually judged as “more wrong,” and “if they only would have” then they wouldn’t be in this mess.
I see the same thing with job seekers.
Especially at the beginning, we are continually trying to defend ourselves.
It could be jaded: My boss was a jerk. The company was so messed up.
It could be respectful: My company had downsizing and I got caught in that.
Whatever it is, it usually sounds hurt and defensive.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t analyze what happened… I think it’s good to do that (but not too much).
What I’m suggesting is that you realize that not everyone is judging you, and guessing that if you only did this more, or that more, or only if you were a better employee, then you wouldn’t have gotten laid off.
One of the best things I got out of going to network meetings was sitting by some amazingly accomplished professionals, and realizing that this unemployment thing affects so many people, even the great, hard-working, totally qualified people.
At first I thought I was a great, hard-working, totally qualified person.
As time went on, and I struggled to defend myself from the bad thoughts I had, I started to think I was a scrub, and perhaps I was laid off because I sucked.
When I saw those people, though, I realized it was bigger than that. It didn’t matter how great a job I did – it affects everyone.
And then, I felt like I didn’t have to defend myself as much. Over time, I felt like I had to do it less and less, until it almost became something to be proud of.
Yes, I got laid off. So have millions of others. It’s not about us, it’s about other things, outside my control.
I was finally able to put on a brave badge of courage, that of being laid off and SURVIVING.
Change happens. Don’t internalize and blame yourself for something that was out of your control.
Survive through it, and be proud of how you survive.