Being part of a mass layoff is difficult. A host of emotions are prevalent. Sadness to leave what was known possibly for decades. Fear of financial instability. Anger at the company or economy. Confusion due to loss and the unknown. On its own, job transition is tough. Unfortunately, some people make it more difficult.
One of my job transition clients was having a tough time of it. If something could go wrong, it did go wrong. From technological issues with his phone to a glitch in the system causing him to lose his unemployment compensation. Every time we talked another issue appeared. I felt bad for him. But I could also see how he had a role in the issues around him.
Have you ever been caught in a state of stress like my client? Check out some of these behaviors and see if any resonate with you.
- Being constantly out of breath rushing to the next thought, responsibility or fear.
- Talking quickly and over people.
- Replaying the story of chaos, pain, or fear again, again, and again.
- Having muscle tension and cloudy thinking.
- Saying “this is stressing me out.”
This client was exhibiting all of the behaviors above. As I listened to him recount his tale from this state of stress, I heard how he was making things worse for himself.
- His body was struggling with lack of oxygen and tension that I could hear in his voice, making his thinking cloudy.
- He missed options to solve his problems because he was talking too fast and would not let me speak.
- In replaying his stories of woe, he was reliving the pain and not focused on solutions.
- He was choosing to remain in the stressed-out experience by declaring that “this is stressing me out.”
After a few minutes, I stopped my client and told him to take a deep breath. This action turned off the stress switch. I have never witnesses this so clearly and completely. The client went from a crazy harried state to one of clarity and calm in just a few breaths. And most importantly, this new clarity empowered him to find solutions to his struggles that he could not grasp when caught up in a state of stress.
Working with my client brought back memories of how I used to be. I can’t believe how many years I wasted in a state of worry, anxiety, and stress. Funny thing is, to get to my current calm, peaceful, joyful state, nothing changed in my exterior life. What changed first was me. I became aware of how I was causing myself added stress. I worked on my responses. I minimized my negativity. I grew my compassion and acceptance. Then, through this internal work, my external world shifted to something better.
These days so many of us are filled with fear, anxiety, and disappointment. Instead of trying to change others’ views, instead of attacking or fearing how government is run, instead of having anxiety over what will happen in the world next, turn inward. Work on your own sense of calm. Look around your immediate vicinity and recognize you have all you need in this moment. Express gratitude for at least three things every day. Smile at those around you. Become a model of a stress-free, accepting, compassionate person. Then watch as your life, and the lives of those around you, begin to shift.