Do Your Fears Hamper Your Job Search?

Embarrassed woman hides face in hands

“But Mommy, I’m afraid they’re going to laugh at me!

That is a sentiment I’ve heard expressed from my daughter a number of times in her short life. Any time something happens that sets her apart from the others, this fear springs to her mind. It happened most recently before Christmas when she slipped off the monkey bars at school and broke her arm. She didn’t want to go to school the next day because she thought her friends would make fun of her situation.

The fear of ridicule is one that follows us through life. No one likes to be embarrassed or look the fool. It oftentimes curtails ours actions, as do other fears in life.

If you are between jobs, your natural inclination is to “circle the wagons,” to keep anyone and everyone at bay while you nurse your wounds. Yes, it can be necessary to get yourself mentally prepared to go out into the world again, but you may be afraid to venture out into the public eye. What drives that fear?

  • Do you think people are going to laugh at you? Rarely will you find an individual who will make someone the butt of a joke for losing a job, even if it was 100% the employee’s fault. Honestly, anyone who would make fun of an unemployed person is not worth the time of day. If this person is a “friend,” cut ties. You don’t need people like that in your life and are better off with them gone.
  • Are you afraid that they will see how depressed you are?  Losing a job can feel like losing a part of yourself. It hurts a lot. If you are depressed, get help to get you back on track. Many communities have a 211 hotline for community resources. Just dial 211 and you can get connected to help that is available. There is also a 211 online searchable database with information (hat tip to career pro Mark Dyson for this resource!)
  • Do you want to avoid hearing the truth about what happened? Perhaps you were fired for misconduct. Or maybe your company had a layoff and then called back several people a few months later. Only you didn’t get a call and are still out of work. It stings to hear the truth about how you may have contributed to situation. But this isn’t necessarily ridicule; it could be a much-needed reality check. Just because you don’t want to hear what your spouse, good friend, or career coach says doesn’t mean that it has no value. Instead of dismissing their points, develop strategies for overcoming them. That will serve you far better than burying your head in the sand about it all.
  • Are you afraid people will avoid you? Unfortunately, that does happen. Survivor’s guilt can strike even those friends with good intentions of helping you. It’s important to remember that the survivor’s guilt reaction of avoidance is not about them rejecting you; it’s about their own internal struggle about feeling badly about your unemployment while being relieved they are not in the same boat. Not engaging people who are in the throes of survivor’s guilt will only make the situation worse. However, simply talking with them helps allay their guilt and will put them in a better position to help you.

Dealing with being unemployed is never easy. Letting your fears dictate your actions makes it worse. Are you letting your fears get the best of you?

Image courtesy of Sarebear

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