How to be comfortable with yourself during layoffs, temporary or not?

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 strongly disagree and 10 strongly agree, how satisfied have you been with yourself in the past weeks? What kind of thinking has been more like you? “I wish I were different?” or “I trust myself to go through this situation.”

We are at a stage of the coronavirus crisis when the personal energy of working people around the world has dropped. As a result, team conflicts in organisations have increased. To help their people go through this stage of mental exhaustion, team leaders chose to disrupt their teams. 

“So, she (the CEO) acted quite decisively on the team itself by radically changing it.” writes the author of the HBR article, If You Feel Like You’re Regressing You’re not Alone: “ She sent one team member home temporarily who was not adding value in this phase. ”

There are many people, in different professional occupations, who have been sent home. For example, in Finland, the country where I live, in week 22, 8.563 have been temporarily laid off and 10.593 have been unemployed due to the fact that the implemented restrictions affected the economy. How might these individuals feel about their current unemployment? Those whose main identity does not rely on the job that they do, may be mostly worried about their financial safety.

But what if your main identity is strongly related to your work? Like it can be the case for the person who is part of the executive team? Or if you are an artist, designer or have a small business of your own? You may have the tendency to feel less concerned over financial losses and more concerned about the impressions that you make in front of your boss, colleagues or clients. So, when your boss or client decides that you don’t add value, it’s no wonder that you end up feeling lonely, fearful, easily irritated or maybe verbally aggressive. You may be thinking, “I wish I were someone else.”

How can we make it so that the feelings of self-worth remain unaffected in face of temporary unemployment or terminated work contract? How can we continue believing in ourselves when others judge our professional competence to be disposable?

If we were Eleanor Roosevelt, we would say, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” In order to get to this place where you are psychologically independent of others’ opinions and decisions, you may consider the following three steps:

  1. Reassess what else you value, other than the opinion of your boss. Maybe you value the opinion of your family and friends? What if you’re living alone on an island? Those of you who have been isolated alone in your homes since the COVID-19 outbreak, may be familiar with this exercise of imagination. What would your sense of self relate to? Maybe you would simply value your body that carries you from one place to another? Or your breath which keeps you alive? 
  1. Respect yourself more than you respect others’ opinions. As Swami Sivananda, a teacher of Vedanta philosophy advises, “The best thing to give to yourself is respect.” What is one thing you can do today to show respect to yourself? How about writing down 5 qualities you’re proud to possess?  

Roses don’t try to be like tulips. 

Tulips don’t try to be cherry trees. 

Flowers follow their destinies by blossoming in the environments where they are planted. They display their colours and shapes at the right time, whether it’s sunny or cloudy. They spread their fragrances even when there are no passers-by to stop in admiration and fall in love with them.

In a similar way to everything else in nature, you show respect to yourself by being grateful for the qualities you were designed with. 

  1. Develop a new sense of what is possible

These unusual times are a good time for you to choose your natural qualities to cultivate in the suitable environments. For example, my YouTube Channel is the new environment where I exercise my storytelling skills. What could be your new environment? 

I’ll leave you with the following quote of the British playwright George Bernard Shaw, “You see things as they are and you say, ‘Why?’. But I dream things that never were, and I say, ‘Why not?’ ”