Pro tip: Remember, you are more than your job function.
More than 55 million workers have filed for unemployment benefits in the past six months due to layoffs from COVID-19. Not only is a layoff devastating financially, but it can also be devastating emotionally, as many people feel largely defined by their jobs.
Research has shown that recessions, mass layoffs, and prolonged periods of unemployment can dramatically affect self-esteem and mental health. Layoffs directly affect our self-concept or view of ourselves, and as humans, we struggle to accept ourselves when our self-concept is threatened. For many people, a layoff shatters their self-image as hard-working and contributing members of society. This is especially true when you feel responsible for providing for your family.
How we feel about ourselves internally has a significant impact on how we present ourselves to the world. Practicing self-acceptance helps you be more confident, collaborate more effectively, learn faster, and foster more creative ideas. Because of this, it’s important for people facing unemployment to actively work on the practice of self-acceptance. But how do you do that when your world feels torn apart?
Uncover the story in your head about your worth
Many of us develop subconscious stories in our heads about who we are based on our childhood and other life experiences. As kids, we tend to make everything about us, so even small interactions can imprint on our brains and create a false narrative about our worth as humans. Until we can dissect those stories, we will struggle to gain control of our thoughts. For example, you might believe:
- You are lovable when you accomplish things
- You are significant/special because of your position
- You are competent based on what you are earning
Rewrite the story in your head
Once you know your story, you have the power to rewrite the ending. Our brains are not great at simply “letting something go” and often look to replace one thing with the next. Think of this as framing, or simply finding a story that serves you more effectively.
Because you’re consciously developing this story as an adult, you’re likely to create a more accurate account with more mature and evolved brain capacity. Here are some examples of stories that can replace the subconscious stories you used to tell yourself:
- I’m worthy of love simply because I exist
- I am significant and special for the lives that I touch (like family and friends)
- I am competent to navigate life’s challenges. A smooth sea doesn’t create skilled sailors