Updated 06 May 2014

Coping with redundancy

Being made redundant is a huge shock to most people. Especially if it comes out of the blue. And the stress, both emotional and financial, that it brings about can be considerable.

Being made redundant is a huge shock to anyone. Sometimes you can see it coming, but sometimes it comes out of the blue. And the stress, both emotional and financial, that it brings about can be considerable.

Many people who have been made redundant, suffer from depression and are overcome by a sort of inertia. But this is not inevitable, says psychiatrist, Professor M.A. Simpson.

It is important to remember that it is the job, not you, which has become redundant, he adds.

He gives the following constructive tips:

  • The situation can be very demoralising if you insist on seeing things in a negative light, but you can also use it as a useful opportunity to take stock of your career and your future plans, and to revise your blueprint for where you'll head from here on.
  • It may sound very much like fake cheerfulness when someone talks of the opportunities and challenges you can find within such alarming situations, but many people have lived through the experience of what looked at first like a failure or a disaster.
  • Probably the most important determinant of what the eventual outcome will be, is your attitude, and how you decide to interpret the situation.

Your attitude - your choice
While we are usually not to blame for all that happens to us in life, we are responsible for what we choose to do about what happens, and we are free, to a surprising extent, to decide on our attitude when certain things happen to us.

In fact, your attitude is often the thing that determines the outcome of your situation. In short, you become your own self-fulfilling prophecy.

Throwing in the towel
If you manage to convince yourself that a retrenchment is a failure, and proves that you are destined to fail, then that may very well become true. This would not be because that is inevitably so, but because people with low expectations of themselves, and with defeatist attitudes, tend to create self-fulfilling prophecies, and build themselves a destiny of failure.

Taking up the challenge
On the other hand, if you work on a more realistic evaluation of the situation, and decide that while you have indeed probably been unfortunate, then misfortune need not become a habit. If you seek advantages and opportunities within the circumstances, you have an excellent chance of bettering your prospects.

This may be an opportunity to improve your skills, think about what you really would like to do, and take a bit of time off between jobs. It may also be that you could turn a hobby into a money-making venture. Now's the time to investigate this.

Strong people go for help
Counselling may be a good idea. Employers, who are laying off staff, ought to provide facilities or funding for redundancy-related counselling, as well as for personal and emotional counselling. This should be dealt with by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, rather than merely a career counsellor only dealing with purely job-related issues.

Seeking counselling doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you - indeed, it usually indicates that there's definitely something right with you. But it can provide an opportunity to have frank and confidential discussions with someone who has a deep understanding of how people can face adversity. This can also help you clarify your thinking, as well as identify your needs and wants, strengths and weaknesses. You deserve it.

(Professor M.A. Simpson, aka CyberShrink, updated November 2007)


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