7 Ways to Thrive Before, During and After You Hear The “F” Word! They didn’t say the “F” word, but it sure felt like it! Yes, the dreaded “F” word: F-I-R-E-D. “Your position has been outsourced, down-sided, eliminated, restructured.” But no matter what the PC vernacular of the day happens to be, the bottom line is you’ve been fired. You are no longer needed. Your services are no longer considered of value. Ouch!
I think this was the first time I had an out-of-body experience. It was certainly the first time it had ever happened to me. I knew the drill because I had been through this procedure several times before, the difference being now I was sitting on the opposite side of the table – the receiving end. I can now say that neither side is particularly enjoyable.
The ceremonial circumstances typically begin with a mysterious email to attend a mysterious meeting. You walk in and by the looks of everyone’s faces in the room, you get the feeling like you are about to attend a wake – your own. And then, without meeting your eyes, someone reads a carefully-scripted statement from a piece of paper that was prepared by some hotshot lawyer. And boom. It’s done. And with all the dignity, strength and self-respect you can muster, you thank them for the opportunity to have been engaged in their employ and walk away.
Truth be told, for me, I had expected it. After a couple of years of new management and changing tides, I could see the proverbial writing on the wall. Months before the end, I had actually begun taking my personal effects – things like family pictures – home from the office. Energetically, I felt the time was near.
I had been through the emotional ups and downs and I was ready. I could have high-tailed it out of there before this imminent day, but for several reasons I didn’t. Staying wasn’t an easy decision to make because eventually the day-to-day had become an intolerable game of whack-a-mole (and guess who was the mole?)! When you see things shifting around you and suddenly you seem to be “left out” of key decisions and the new rules of engagement don’t include you, it kicks up the dust that eventually lands in your eyes and stings like a b**ch. Each day felt like I was losing a little bit more of myself. Until I remembered. I was NOT my job. I was more than that.
My survival – and eventual thriving – through this time was due to five strategies that I used. I’m not saying it was a bed of roses, but when I applied them, the roses had measurably fewer thorns. And I wish I could say I had handled the situation perfectly. But as Maya Angelou says, “when you know better, you do better.”
These strategies I share are not meant to necessarily change an outcome for you, but rather to support and empower you to take charge of your feelings at a time when you may be feeling vulnerable and anything but “in charge.” And this may actually change an outcome.
1. Say What? If it looks and sounds like a duck, it is a duck! For heaven’s sake DON’T start thinking you are paranoid. If you are “sensitive” like I am, you can empathically “feel” the actual changes before they occur. This is a gift! If you begin to doubt your judgment, and your gut, you will inevitably begin to distrust the one person that you must trust now more than ever -- yourself. If you need some perspective, talk to someone OUTSIDE the company, like a coach or therapist who can be an unbiased sounding board. Trust what you are feeling.
2. Decide. It’s your choice. Do you stay and weather the storm? Or do you begin your search for another job? Either way, you are going to need some really good coping skills and be steadfast in whatever decision you make. And then, decide again. If you stay and you continually feel like a sitting duck, this will eat away at your self-worth and self-power. Hold on to both of those and decide to be uber-loving to yourself each and every day. Don't underestimate the power of self-care. How I did this was making sure I had great music at my desk, fresh flowers, affirmations and reminders that this situation did not define “who” I was. If you do decide to look for another job, keeping your energy and stamina up will be key to representing your best self during interviews.
3. Get out! Get out of your office at least once a day…even if you have nowhere to go! I would typically eat my lunch at my desk every day (thankfully, I’ve learned a whole lot more about self-care!). Then as things began to become more difficult, there was a real need for me to shore up my energy in order to get through the rest of the day. Get out. Take a break. Do something to re-energize your spirit; read, walk, listen to music (I highly recommend Pharrell Williams’s song Happy!), be in nature, find someplace outside the office to meditate (your car will do) – even if it is only for 10 minutes.
4. Tap. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Tapping can offer immediate relief in stressful situations. Walking into an environment day-to-day that no longer feels welcoming eventually becomes toxic causing chronic stress in your body. This is the root of disease and unhappiness. Here is an “emergency” tactic that you can use any time, and any place, for support.
This picture above shows the karate chop point and it is located on either hand. Use 4 fingers from the other hand to tap on this whole side of the hand. Keep doing this until you begin to feel calmer and your breathing slows down and becomes more regular. I can’t tell you the numerous times I did this with my hands hiding in my lap or under a conference room table! For more information on how you can get tapping support, visit my website: www.paulagrosario.com.
5. 3-Minutes. Take three minutes to breathe. If you are feeling like you just HAVE TO fire off an email or say something to someone who really pissed you off, give it 3 minutes before you do! Take three minutes to breathe. That’s it. Often times that is all that’s needed to rattle the cage of your “thinking brain” (“wake up for strategy and self-preservation!”) and systematically shut down your “emotional brain” (“bye-bye fear, upset and anger!”). The whole idea is to create some space and distance between you and the emotionally-charged situation. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. If you still feel heated after this and are tempted to give someone a piece of your mind, add the tapping to this and begin the 3 minutes of breathing again.
6. Get up! (O.k., so this is similar to get out!) If you can’t physically leave the office, getting up from your desk can do a world of good! Sit in a conference room, find a work-related reason to visit someone else’s office, move your chair on the other side of your desk and sit there (yeah, I know, it may look weird but it helps!). You want to change the way you are seeing things. When we feel small, ignored or devalued, sitting hunched over a desk reinforces these feelings. This sitting position tightens your muscles, restricts your lungs and causes lethargy. The idea here is to feel empowered – moving around – even putting your arms out to the side and on your hips will shift your energy and perspective on how things look at that moment.
7. The Gift! Find the gift. Even in the most seemingly upsetting of situations, there is always a gift waiting for us. If you take the time to seek the gift, you will likely spend less time ruminating about what may come and who said what to whom. The gift is often something we need to learn and grow from personally. Perhaps the gift is to help you find your true calling which may not be in your current job or career. Or maybe the gift is to learn how to let go and move on when a situation no longer serves you. Or to learn how to speak up and stand in your power. Only you will know what that gift is and when you have found it!
Paula G. Rosario
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