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How to Maintain a Positive Attitude After Losing Your Job

Updated on March 17, 2013

There is No Shame in Being Downsized Out of Your Job

This Hub has been written in response to a fellow Hubber's question asking How does someone maintain a positive attitude after losing their job?

Having been in this position in a previous recession, I can emphasize with those who find themselves in this predicament.

However, the first thing to remember is that losing a job or being unemployed no longer carries the social stigma that it once did.

This is about the economy, not about you. You just happened to be in the path of change and lost your job or just graduated and found yourself in a job market that had more people looking for work than there were jobs.

In a way it is no different than attending a concert or other big event and catching a cold from another person in the audience.

You didn't intend to get the cold, the person who gave it to you didn't intend to give it to you and the germs didn't seek you out to punish you for something - you were just, unintentionally, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, it is not you. It is the economy.

Avoid Letting Your Job Define You

One trap that many people fall into is to define themselves in terms of their job or profession.

When looking at oneself from this perspective, it is easy to see how the loss of a job can result in major emotional trauma. I once read an article about a career employee at IBM, a company that used to employ people for life and encouraged them to bond closely with the company,

This man lost his job when the advent of personal computers all but destroyed IBMs core mainframe computer business. As a result of this change in the computer market, IBM was forced to severely retrench and let go of thousands of employees.

The emotional trauma for this individual was such that the only thing he could compare it to was a divorce and he later told his wife that she never had to worry about him leaving as he had already been through one divorce with IBM and he could not endure the trauma of a second one with her.

For myself, I have always looked upon a job and a career as a means of obtaining the income necessary to support my family and me.

I have skills that I offer to sell to an employer and take positions with employers with the idea that I will keep the position until either I can do better for my family by going someplace else or my employer feels they would be better off without me.

While money is the major factor in my choice of a job, I have always tried to seek employment doing work I enjoy and with employers where I will feel happy.

However, when it comes time to leave, either voluntarily or involuntarily, what is terminated is a simple economic relationship and not an emotional bond.

Ironically, even though I have never taken a job with the intent of remaining with the employer until retirement, my average time with a particular employer is much longer than the U.S national average as I have done very little job hopping.

Because I have always taken jobs with the attitude that they would continue only as long as the relationship was mutually beneficial, there was no emotional trauma for me during the couple of instances where the employer's needs changed and my job was eliminated - the loss of the paycheck was inconvenient but there was no damage to my self image.

A Plan of Action

That being said, the first thing for you to do is start to look upon yourself as a freelance professional who, as a result of a business slowdown, is now forced to focus on marketing your skills in order to find a new customer/employer for your skills.

Instead of looking upon yourself as being unemployed you can now visualize yourself as an independent business person in tough market that will require a full time effort to pull through. And you should concentrate full time on finding employment and not agonizing over your job loss.

So here is a suggested plan of action to help you to keep busy, keep your spirits up and find a job.

Make it a point to get up every week day, just as if you had a job, and actively work to get a job.

Check job postings online and/or in the newspaper and go online or mail resumes for these jobs every day.

If you lost a job and qualify for unemployment, go immediately to the unemployment office and apply for benefits. These won't replace your lost income but will provide some cash to help you survive.

Contact Creditors and Let Them Know your Situation and Your Desire to Pay Your Bills

If you have bills - credit cards, loans, rent, utilities, etc. visit or call each one immediately to explain your current predicament.

Stress that it is your intention to pay these obligations in full when you can, but at the moment you want to make arrangements to either temporarily suspend payments or arrange to make partial rather than full payments.

These people and companies are suffering in this economy the same as you are and, in most cases, will see themselves as being better off working with you rather than risk losing everything by having you simply default and pay nothing.

It will will also save them the time and expense of employing legal means to try to get some payments from you.

For creditors with a local office, you might try going in person and, while you are there ask the person helping you if they have any suggestions or job leads they can share with you. Such people often come into contact with many different people during the day and may have some suggestions to help your job search.

Utilize Employment Services Offered by Your State and Local Government

Next, check with your local Jobs Service, One Stop or other employment services generally run by your county or state government.

Most, if not all local or state governments offer these services and, depending upon the type and amount of funding available to them, they may be able to help you with a number of things.

At a minimum, most will offer lists of job openings and often assistance with resume writing and job interview techniques.

They will also often provide training and other assistance such as helping to pay for medical care, transportation, housing, etc. if you meet the requirements of their programs.

Don't expect to receive anything beyond some job leads, but also, don't hesitate to ask what other services are available and if your circumstances qualify for these services.

Keep in mind that, even if you qualify for their programs, none of these things will solve your basic problem which is the lack of a steady income.

At best, they are stopgap measures which can help you to survive during your unemployment.

Even if you find that you don't qualify for any of them, the mere act of going out and trying, rather than sitting home and wallowing in your problems, will give you a psychological boost.

You are taking action aimed at regaining control over your life rather than remaining at the mercy of outside economic forces.

Even though you still don't have a job, taking action to improve your economic situation will put you back in the world of business and work and such action will help boost your morale.

Further, you will be meeting with people, applying for benefits, interviewing and negotiating with people, thereby practicing and honing skills that you will need to employ when applying for jobs. ,

Don't overlook the fact that everyone you will be dealing with - bankers, landlord, social service workers, etc. - are all employed and have jobs and, as such, may know of positions that are open or may be opening soon which you could apply for.

Therefore, don't hesitate to take the opportunity to try to broaden the conversation to discussing jobs and careers.

Unless they are very busy, most people will jump at the opportunity to talk about themselves and their jobs. Listen and learn as you will undoubtedly pick up information or leads that may be valuable immediately or some time down the line in your job search.

Most people also get satisfaction from helping other people, whether it be by referring you to a possible job opening or helping a friend or associate who is looking for an employee by referring you.

Look for Ways to Both Make Money and Advance Your Career Goals

In this Hubber's profile he indicated that he had a journalism degree and his goal was to eventually write for a skateboarding magazine.

While a career in magazine journalism may be his dream, other writing positions such as writing ad copy for firm's marketing department, writing training manuals for a company's training department, helping with writing grants for a non-profit, etc. also require writing skills.

Jobs in one of the above or similar areas will help provide an aspiring journalist with both professional writing experience for his resume or CV (curriculum vitae) as well as a steady income while he continues his search for his dream job.

Some Final Suggestions

Whether a job seeker has a network of friends and professional contacts or not, it is important to either use his or her network or immediately begin building one as networking is a powerful job search tool.

If you as a job seeker don't have a network you should go out and meet people to start building one. Once you have found and applied for the full time, career type jobs that are advertised each day, check for temporary and part-time jobs. If nothing else, these will provide both income and a base from which to continue your search.

When applying for jobs, potential employers are usually more impressed with a person if they are currently working since they can get more current work references. Also, temporary and part-time jobs can often lead to full time regular positions with many employers.

As a job seeker you might also consider volunteer positions that utilize your work skills. Even though you will not get paid, such jobs will keep you active and busy and will show employers when you interview that you are continuing to practice and utilize the skills you will be putting to use on a full time job.

Occasionally these organizations will have openings for paying positions which you might be able to move into.

By Keeping Active and Taking Charge of Your Life, Your Attitude Can't Help but Be Positive

Finally, with temporary, part-time and volunteer jobs, a job seeker will be participating in the workforce with other employees who may know of open positions or may be able to introduce you to people they know who are hiring people.

By keeping active and maintaining a positive attitude you will be able to both avoid the job loss blues and find a new job.


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    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      3 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      gmwilliams - thanks for your insightful and helpful comments for people whose jobs have been downsized.

    • sanasiddiqui profile image


      3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing a very useful hub because most of the people are afraid when they lose their jobs.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Being downsized from a job often have a negative emotional, psychological, and even psychic impact on an individual. H/she feels useless, even may feel inferior and to be a loser. Our society does not make the situation better. Oftentimes people who are downsized are made to feel that somehow they are at fault whether they are or not. It is believed by others, even society that if they were not somehow deficient, why were they downsized. It has a greater negative impact if they experienced being downsized the first time in their careers.

      Being downsized is no trivial matter at all. It has rippling effects on the person and particularly their families, especially there children if they are younger. Also, being downsized have a traumatic psychological effect on older employees for it is less likely that corporations and company will hire people over 50 after they are downsized for it is believed that they cost too much and they will subsequently retire.

      However, there is some positive aspects from being downsized. One can pursue career avenues and ventures that were not possible previously. One can even go after a lifelong career dream. Excellent, insightful article. Voted UP!

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      3 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      sanasiddiqui - Thanks for visiting and commenting on my Hub.

      Your good advice is appreciated.

    • sanasiddiqui profile image


      3 years ago

      Always have a master plan for your future to use in bad times. When unemployed, work hard on yourself.

    • Husteen profile image


      8 years ago from NIGERIAN

      Never let your job define you that's one of the most inspiring point i love , but if you still need to read more abt positive mental attitude you can also visit Good luck.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Always remember that downsizing and layoffs are not your fault. In terms of looking for new employment, your best bet is to ask your employer to give you a positive reference - this will enforce to new potential employers that you were a great employee, and your previous employer would have kept you if they could have.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      shopgirl17 - Having experienced the same thing during the Savings and Loan crisis a couple of decades ago, I fully understand your feelings.

      However, the question is, will a negative attitude help you any more? One can be realistic and positive at the same time. A positive attitude is basically remaining confident that you will work your way out of your problem. A positive attitude alone won't solve your problems but it will help you to both generate the energy to keep working at a solution as well as keep you focused so that you can see and take advantage of opportunities when they do come by.

      Don't give up, things will improve if you let them.


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      It's pretty hard to stay "positive" when you have burned through your savings and 401K while trying to survive a job loss that has lasted 2 years.

      I know people that have lost their homes, medical insurance and are living with friends, family or in the car.

    • abbas73 profile image


      9 years ago from hubpages

      optimistic and positive thinking is much nedded these days, thank you.

    • Amy Boyack profile image

      Amy Boyack 

      9 years ago from Idaho

      This is a great hub with some very useful advice. Glad you didn't try to just gloss this one over as so many people do. It's a real issue for real people today.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you for this positive thinking.

    • seemabhatia10 profile image


      10 years ago

      that's really inspiring u right we should not let job to define us . tanks for the greate inspirational stuff

    • sk8rgirl21 profile image


      10 years ago from California

      thank you so much for answering my request, it really means a lot to me that you took the time to do so!!


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