Sunday, December 6, 2009

Heal Thyself

A couple of weeks ago we addressed the need to Know Thyself; this week, we will address the need to “Heal Thyself.”

During the last week, I’ve been struck by comments about how the long-term unemployed are struggling emotionally: A colleague shared that a client of hers appeared to be exhibiting symptoms of clinical depression as a result of his year long unemployment. A client of mine revealed that he and his wife were about to engage in family therapy, as they were having difficulty adjusting to a more limited lifestyle based on the significantly less income he has earned over the last year.

I’ve addressed this in past posts – one on core beliefs and another on feelings, beliefs and behaviors with the help of my wife, Camille. However, the comments by my colleague and my client have really brought these issues home. How can we as consultants and coaches help our clients facing tough emotional issues related to their changes in employment? Again, relying on Camille’s expertise as a therapist and spiritual practitioner, my sense is that these folks need to help themselves. We can suggest changes in behaviors; point out how feelings and beliefs are affecting intentions; and let them know they are not alone; but it is up to the client to take charge and make the necessary changes to get back on track.

These changes may include – like my client and his wife – seeking help from mental health experts. Career consultants can offer strategies to improve the job search, but we’re not typically qualified to address the issues that affect our clients’ mental and emotional health or financial issues. We can suggest that clients might need to seek the advice of a therapist or other advisor; but it is up to the client to take the appropriate action, to make the call.

Similarly, mental health therapists and other advisors can make suggestions, point out issues and behaviors and offer changes. However, it is up to the client to execute on their advice. They have to do the work; they have to take the initiative.

Some behaviors can be changed without the help of a therapist. For example, simply pushing yourself away from the computer may be a first step. Instead of cruising the internet, get out and meet people. Attend a networking group with people in your profession. Focus on those groups that don’t attract only other unemployed people. There is no sense in hanging out with people who will feed your current emotions. Most professional organizations hold local regular meetings. Seek them out; learn what is happening in your profession. Find out who the leaders are in your profession in your region. Connect with them and ask for their insight on the profession and advice on the companies you should focus on.

Volunteer. Get out and work with groups that serve the down and out. If you want to feel better about yourself, work with those who are worse off. Believe me, there are folks who have it tougher than you. ‘Tis the season for helping; pick an organization and offer your help. No doubt the organization will be happy to have you.

Take a class. Learn something new. Exercise your brain. It doesn’t have to be related to your career, but it could. Pick something that you’re interested in and will challenge you. And hang out with your classmates; discuss what you learned in class; do your homework together.

So, if you’re feeling depressed as a result of the loss of your job; if you’re feeling paralyzed and can’t get out of the rut you’ve found yourself, help yourself by getting help or helping others.

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