Losing a job presents awesome opportunities to realize, confront, and overcome some of our deepest fears.
What kind of insensitive, glass half-full, nonsense is this you ask? Well the truth is our glass is always half full. Half full of infinite possibilities, opportunities, and new discoveries that inhabit the unknown. And half full of the dangers, obstacles, and pitfalls that consume our thoughts and fuel our fears. There is endless self-help and motivational material to help us cope with our fears. This piece focuses instead on how to enhance our hopes, and develop the thoughts and perspectives that vanquish our fears by giving us new habits. Habits that help us focus our attention energy to work on what we want rather than what we have.
There are three top priorities that are threatened whenever unemployment strikes.
- Bills and Financial Matters
- The Well-Being of Family
- Our Own Image & Position
The order these are listed in is important. Notice that the first priority is financial. Next is the responsibility to our immediate loved ones. Then lastly the focus moves to ourselves. This order reflects our priorities, and the order of our priorities reflects our values. So by this example, most of us value and prioritize financial matters over our families, and even ourselves. It is our fears that create the view (or way of looking at things) that shapes this value order. Some top fears that arise when employment is threatened include:
- Fear of Losing A Job (Primary Income)
- Fear of Losing Possessions (Home, Car, etc.)
- Fear of Losing Personal Status (Access to elite groups, clubs, and associates.)
Accepting the importance of having and maintaining adequate financial means to meet our needs, valuing the status of financial matters above those of our loved ones and ourselves is not logical, or effective. No matter what socio economic status one holds, or whatever financial issue is at hand, the solution to any financial issue will first require that you are able to perform certain tasks at peak levels. These tasks include showing up for work and performing your job functions effectively so you can get paid. Bottom line, if you cannot do what you must to make money, you cannot effectively deal with any financial issues you have. Based on this understanding, it will be more effective to move your personal health, fitness, and overall well-being to the top priority slot in your value set.
One way to look at it is to recognize that if you are healthy, alert, have a bright and cheerful attitude, and are performing tasks with a high degree of focus – you will be more pleasant to be around, and more productive at work. Prioritizing your personal well-being represents your best opportunity to stay employed. It is also totally within your control.
Looking at the fears noted earlier, it is helpful to develop some new understandings (or beliefs) about fears. IMPORTANT: Taking on new beliefs – big or small – requires daily practice and time.
Fears Take Many Forms – Fears show-up cleverly disguised to justify their existence. Common forms employment related fears take include:
- Feelings Of Intense Need
- Concern For What Others Are Thinking (or Doing)
- Strong Ideas About What Others Are Thinking (or Doing)
- Feeling A Need For Validation From Others
Fears Misdirect You – Fears focus attention on effects rather than the causes of the issues they present. For example the fear of losing a job focuses attention on questions like:
- What a co-worker is thinking or doing
- Whether something you said or did was well received
- What might happen if some event occurs in the future?
Notice that you have no way of truly knowing, or controlling outcomes related to any of these items. Yet a lot of attention energy (and time) is spent on them.
Fears Are Not True – Job related fears are thoughts you have about your job circumstances. Whatever your circumstances are at any moment, your fears are focused on either past or future events. Think about this important reality. For example, if you are thinking about how a co-worker feels about something you said or did, two things are true about that thought.
- Whatever you said or did is done. You cannot change it or take it back.
- Whatever they thought or felt, you can never truly know. And, you have a clear idea about what they felt based on the actions and events that have occurred since then.
Using these core understandings about fear highlight how untrue fears really are, and help refocus your attention on what you need to do to maintain effective priorities, be your best, and put forth the ideas and efforts that are uniquely yours.
Here’s to being your best in our world!