Dealing With Job Loss, Divorce or Loss of a Loved One? Be Gentle With YourselfWednesday, August 18, 2010 12:50
By Ellen Brown
When you’re dealing with a difficult life transition, such as divorce or job loss, do you sometimes beat yourself up because you can’t seem to “get over it and move on?” Many of my clients fall into that familiar pattern, and I’ve certainly done the same from time to time. The problem is that scolding ourselves only makes matters worse.
Such was the case with my client, Josh (not his real name), a young and talented attorney who was laid off during the economic downturn. Josh had solid credentials, a great resume, and a gentle presence that made him a delight to be around. But Josh had been out of work for nearly nine months, and he had begun to see that long lapse as a character flaw. Sometimes, in our sessions, he would berate himself for being out of work, which only made him feel worse. That, in itself made it harder for Josh to sell himself in his job interviews. Over time, I helped him see that treating himself more gently was actually more helpful than beating himself up.
But it wasn’t easy, because Josh was like many of us who believe that a swift kick in the you know where is the best motivating force in helping us move forward. And why not? That belief is instilled in us by parents and coaches and bosses who tell us to “just buck up” or “stop your bellyaching” or “quit your complaining and get on with your life.” But comments like these only heap on the shame and shame, while sometimes paralyzing, is rarely motivating.
To me, the best medicine for dealing with a difficult transition is to be gentler with yourself. Why? Because when you’re going through a transition, you’re already in a compromised state. You may be feeling sad or angry or scared. Or you may be confused about what your future holds. When you’re navigating this rocky terrain, what you need is a best friend who’s cheering you on. Not a bully, threatening to knock you down.
If you’re wondering how you could be gentler with yourself, for starters, you could:
- Stop yelling at yourself and treat yourself with the same love and respect that you’d show a good friend
- Allow yourself to “be” with your feelings instead of pushing them away. This will allow your feelings to move through you in a natural way, instead of getting stuck.
- Remind yourself of your strengths and successes everyday
- Counteract your negative self talk, such as “I’m a loser” with positive messages you believe (e.g. “I’m a valuable employee”)
- Take some time to reflect on your new circumstances through journaling, meditation, or spending time in nature
- Balance out this tough time with enjoyable activities – in whatever form that takes for you
- Remember that nothing lasts forever and “this too shall pass.”
So, do you tend to beat yourself up, or are you able to treat yourself with gentleness when you’re going through a difficult transition?
What keeps you from treating yourself more gently?
I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment here on Stepping Stones by scrolling down to the bottom of the page.
Are you dealing with job loss, the death of a loved one, or another challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://www.ellen-brown.com to sign up for an introductory coaching session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.
If you’d like to hear more about the benefits of being gentle with yourself, check out one of our recent episodes of Dialogues with Dignity, in which we discuss that very topic: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dialogueswithdignity/2010/08/05/being-gentle-versus-working-hard
Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach based in Cleveland, OH.