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How to Deal With Your Anger After a Layoff

It sucks to get laid off, and many of you out there are pissed off about it. I don’t blame you. It’s natural to be angry.

getting laid off

It is unfair

Many of you have told me what bothered you most was that it just “wasn’t fair” that your manager would boot you out after so many years. Others have this gnawing anger they just can’t overcome, and that anger is often directed at your former boss. Revenge seems pretty sweet right about now as some of you fantasize about your boss getting his or her comeuppance.

Well, none of that is going to help you, my unemployed friend.

I’m not belittling the anger you feel, and some of it is good, but lately, I’ve been hearing more and more stories of unemployed individuals who cracked and shot up their whole families.

I know, these guys were probably wacko, to begin with, but seething in anger will marinate you in bad vibes and keep you from launching an effective job search.

“When anger builds, it can get out of hand,” says Jo Anne White, a therapist from New Jersey, who’s also an author and professional coach. “It can create more stress for a person, and more of a sense of negativity in terms of any interactions they have with other people, and how they’re presenting themselves to other people.”

White isn’t opposed to a little anger, because it helps you get it out of yourself and find ways to deal with it. But wallowing in negativity, she says, will only impact your emotional and job-hunting state.

How do you know if you’re harboring anger too long?

“If they’re holding onto the anger for months and it’s interfering with relationships with a spouse, kids, or friends; or if in every situation they are not seeing the glass half full, and it’s distorting every other aspect of their lives.”

OK, if you know this is you, go to the gym, or find other ways to get rid of the darkness. You can also throw yourself into the job search, taking the energy from that anger, and using it productively, White advises.

There’s a self-esteem piece to this as well, she adds. People feel bad about themselves when they are laid off and they need someone to build them up, not tear them down, and that includes the person that’s been laid off. You have to constantly be telling yourself you’re great, and solicit positive feedback from friends and family, she stresses.

And, if you’re a family member or friend, do what you can to be that person’s cheerleader. Telling them they’re not doing enough is just dumb.

Anger will probably hinder your effectiveness when it comes to networking folks, a key tool in finding a new gig.

“People who are angry don’t reach out as broadly as they can to networking sources,” says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at HR consulting firm Keystone Partners. “The anger usually drives fear of rejection and more anger, so you end up limiting your potential contacts.”

I’m telling you people, that brewing anger comes through loud and clear to all the people around you, especially hiring managers.

Move on

No one is going to want to hire a sad sack or an angry sack, not in this economy. I’m not saying you should wear a lampshade and pretend you’re happy Pete. As I said, layoffs suck. I’ve been there. I know they suck. Just don’t let the anger SUCK you in.

Go hit a punching bag, get it out of your system, and MOVE ON.

by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach

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