Women Over 50—Transition to New Directions
In my last post, I talked about how corporate downsizing is an unavoidable fact of life in today’s economy. I also mentioned that, rather than being a bad thing, losing one’s job can actually prove the threshold to new and fulfilling directions. Sometimes, undergoing a shake-up, whether wanted or not, can jolt us out of merely going through the motions and awaken us to living on a more conscious basis.
Nevertheless, when one is laid off, especially from long-term employment, she generally experiences a roller coaster of emotions. There are, however, certain predictable stages to periods of major life transitions and it’s helpful to know what to expect. That way, you and your loved ones can prepare.
The first stage reported by those who are experiencing major shifts in their lives is usually one of shock, denial, and disbelief. People say that they feel somewhat numb and there is a sense of unreality attached to the situation. They often have trouble concentrating and making plans. Life feels fuzzy and out of kilter.
Another coping mechanism many use is to minimize the impact of the experience. Individuals may swear that “it’s no big deal” and that their lives are relatively unaffected by the change. Some may even experience a bit of an emotional high. This is often seen in news stories of families who have lost their homes due to a natural disaster. “We’ve lost everything… but we’re okay. We’re altogether, we’re safe, and we’ll rebuild. After all, these were just things.” Such sentiments are admirable but often change after the shock has worn off. It is almost as if our subconscious tries to buffer the blow by denying its impact—a form of self-protection until we can deal with the situation.
Others may use anger to divert their more vulnerable feelings. It’s often easier to get angry and place blame outside of ourselves and onto those around us. That way, the shock and hurt are masked as we become consumed with self-righteous resentment. “How could they do this to me after all I’ve done?” or “I’ve worked my tail off for these people and this is how they repay me!”
In my next post, we’ll address stage two of the transition period. Whether you’re experiencing the loss of your job or other major, life-altering event, the road to renewal may be a rocky one. Despite the initial pain, however, the change often leads to a revitalized sense of self and on to new challenges and exciting directions.