How to Stop Feeling Angry Over a Layoff

If you feel angry or afraid about what’s going on in your career, here are some ideas to help you get through it.

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Are you feeling angry and frustrated about being laid off? Over the way you were laid off? The timing? How that has changed the trajectory of your career? Or maybe you’re angry that you’ve been out of work so long, and afraid it will be months or years before you find another much-needed job.

If so, you’re in good company. After the brutal nature of the last couple of years, many people feel the same way—and rightly so.

But regardless of whether it’s merited, steeping in anger and fear for the long term isn’t in your best interest. Not only does it make you feel unhappy about today, it also paints your perspective of the future in a negative light.

I’m not a fan of just grinning and pretending the world is perfect when it’s not. I’m also not a fan of needlessly stewing in the negative. If you feel angry or afraid about what’s going on in your career, here are some ideas to help you get through it:

[See The Top 50 Companies to Work For.]

Get angry.

This may seem like a strange suggestion in this context, but trying to pretend things are OK when they’re not can actually make things worse. If you haven’t, give yourself permission to express your anger and fear, loud and clear.

Unexpressed, the pressure of that anger and fear can build. Rather than stuffing it and having it pop out randomly (ever been stressed and unreasonably flown off the handle?), create a safe space where you can express those feelings. Ask a trusted friend to just sit and listen, or vent in your journal (you might even want to do a variation on this anger diary idea). Think of it as a corral where that raging bull can run rampant and tire itself out.

Exercise.

Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Not only does exercising itself help you blow off steam, when you do it regularly, you’ll feel better. You’ll have more energy to cope with challenges that arise.

[See 10 ways to Make Any Job Healthier.]

Meditate.

When you’re immersed in anger and fear, and everywhere you turn you see more reasons to be angry and afraid, you’ll feel drained. Your energy will go flying in all directions like a Catherine Wheel.

Meditation can be a great way to help bring you back to center. Numerous studies have shown that meditation reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. If you find it challenging to sit in silence and meditate, try using guided meditations.

Breathe.

Your breath offers an effective tool for turning down the volume on your negative emotions. Even something as simple as stopping and taking a deep breath can help. Try different breathing techniques, and see what works for you.

Laugh.

Laughing is another natural stress reliever, one that has a positive effect on both your mental and your physical health. Look for ways to incorporate more laughter in your life. Watch comedies. Read funny books. Go online and look for video clips of comics. Spend time with light-hearted, funny people.

Cry.

Feel like crying? Do it! For most people, it’s a release valve that leaves them feeling better.

Reach out for support.

Don’t try to navigate this alone. Reach out for support. Find a person (or multiple people) you can vent to, who can help you see things objectively, and who can offer words of support.

Help others.

One of the quickest and most effective ways to shift your mood is helping someone else in need (assuming you’re not already overloaded with demands from others for help). It takes your mind off your own troubles, often creates a sense of perspective, and just feels good.

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Accept change.

A great quote from Byron Katie goes, “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100 percent of the time.” If the ground you were standing on has shifted, you have two choices. You can either remain angry about it, or you can make peace with it. The first option will create more tension and stress in your life, while the second option helps you let go of those negative feelings.

One last thought about moving past anger and fear in your career: don’t expect it to disappear the moment you flip the switch. You’ll have good days and bad days, and you’ll probably need constant vigilance to prevent those emotions from hijacking your ship again. But at the very least, the ideas outlined here can help take the edge off that fear and anger so it’s not so all-consuming, giving you more emotional space to move forward.

After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.

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