Beth M. Moretti – Shock and Denial

You’re so happy in your work. You’ve just finished working long hours on that project which was a big hit with the firm’s biggest client. After a restful weekend spent basking in the sunlight of a job well done, you go in to work on a seemingly average Monday, make the usual complaints about the fact that it’s Monday with your peers but nevertheless proceed to put in your hard day’s work. Toward the end of the day, your boss calls you into the conference room, a little out of the ordinary, but not a big deal.

“Maybe she wants to privately congratulate me on my fabulous work and tell me that I’m getting a raise, a promotion, my own office, an assistant…or maybe all of the above!” You’re on top of the world with excitement—so proud, so confident, feeling completely rewarded by your work. “I did choose the right career after all.”

As she begins to speak, her lips move but you can’t quite make out what she’s saying. It sounds like, “We have to let you go.”  But that’s impossible.

“I’m a great worker—so dedicated, so loyal to the firm which I am so proud to be a part of. I get along with literally everyone in the firm and I am simply good at what I do—that project speaks for itself.”

“Excuse me, could you please repeat that?” you ask, certain that you mind was playing tricks on you just seconds ago. Then you hear it-only this time as clear as a bell, “WE HAVE TO LET YOU GO.” Like daggers through your heart.

“Wait. What??? Me??? No, not me. You must be mistaken.” But this is not a phone call. Your boss did not make a simple error and buzz the wrong extension. She’s standing right there in front of you—wondering why you suddenly have a hearing problem. At that moment you realize why she wanted to see you in the conference room…… and your life is never the same.

The good news is that if you’re willing to be open to new opportunities, it can be even better than it was before this horrific experience. For those who find themselves abruptly unemployed, life has changed, but not ended. The thing to keep in mind is that losing a job is just that—A  LOSS. Therefore, you must grieve it. Be sad. Get mad. Complain. Cry. Do the “Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda” dance for a brief moment. When you’ve finally worn yourself out, you must boldly ACCEPT what has happened.

For many people, acceptance is the hardest part of this process. The challenge of acceptance is that while it may sound easy, it can actually be quite painful. Denial conveniently shields us from the painful reality that has just slapped us in the face.  Denying that X happened keeps the pain at bay. The problem with denial is that you can only stay there for so long—it’s not reality. Or as Billy Joel so aptly put it, “It’s just a fantasy.  It’s not the real thing.”  The truth is you can run but you can’t hide.

The best way to get over the pain is to go right through it. Meet it head on and yell, scream, cry, sob into a pillow when you need to, but just GET IT OUT! After you let the feelings flow freely for a while, you may start to feel depleted and empty, like you have nothing left. That’s when you’ll know that the time has come to rebuild. You must create your own brave new world. After all, your life will never be the same.

… And maybe that’s a good thing.”

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