Many of you don’t know this about me, but when I was in The Waiting Room after my husband died I worked at a big company at a job I did not like but paid the bills.
After all, I could not be a grief therapist while I was grieving so much myself.
My job at this company was in HR and I had to let go of people quite regularly.
I walked hundreds of people out of the building, each time it was as devastating for me to take that walk with them, as it was for them.
The walk of shame.
There was one particular time that will stay with me forever.
I still think about him.
After I delivered the devastating news to this employee, who had been with the company for 10 years, I told him that we would ship his things to his home.
And that the company’s regulations were that he could not stay in his office any longer.
I had to walk him out of the building.
He looked at me and with tears in his eyes he said: Can I take the photo of my family with me and leave everything else?
So as he grabbed the photo and we walked out of his office.
He kindly asked me to not walk next to him.
To walk behind him because he was so ashamed to go by other people’s desks and for them to see him being walked out.
So for the next 2 minutes he walked in front of me,
I walked behind him and I felt all his pain, shame and deep loss.
This was the way someone who spent so many years working at this company was being let go. In a shameful and lonely way.
As soon as the walk of shame was done,
I went back to my desk and cried my eyes out.
This was not the only person I had ever walked out but it was the most difficult one.
I probably walked around 200 hundred shameful walks during my time at that company.
And the truth is, this is not the only place that brings shame on top of the loss of the job. Thousands of companies walk their employees out in the same manner.
As if they are being executed.
But the execution of their heart is the most devastating part.
The loss of a job is so humiliating and heartbreaking that it can completely destroy someone’s identity. I hope one day I get to change the way this loss takes place in every company in the Western World.
But until then I want this message to help you not only feel less embarrassment when you walk out but what to do to reenter the work force.
If you have lost a job or will one day please remember this:
1. The job you lost will rip your old identity out of your core self. And this will be a very painful experience in so many ways. Job loss is one of the worst losses.
2. It will destroy some of your relationships and it will make you forget how able and smart you are.
3. Prepare the people in your life by telling them that you are transitioning from one identity to the next and it will feel like you are at war for a while. Ask for their patience during this time. You will need it.
4. You will spend months doubting yourself and blaming yourself for this job loss. The less of that you do the faster you will rehabilitate yourself. Put a big note up in your house that says: NO BLAME, NO DOUBT ALLOWED HERE.
5. You will feel as if it was your fault and that you were not worthy enough for them to keep you.
When these thoughts come in know that they are temporary.
But they will become permanent if you don’t interrupt them by taking new action towards a new job, a new skill set and whatever you can do to advance yourself to your next chapter.
I am sorry that I am not giving you much time to rest here.
But the longer you stay with the blame and the shame the more you will stay in a lot of pain and further away from the new exciting job.
6. Know that this walk out of your job, this loss has changed you forever and it is possible that a new career is a better choice because of who you are becoming.
Speak to someone about your passions and hobbies and true purpose.
I understand that paying the bills is more important but it is your responsibility to ask these questions while in transition:
Am I on the right track?
How do I want to spend the rest of my life?
7. And remember you are never too old to change careers.
Yes that’s right you are never too old for that.
8. And above all, if you ever have to take the walk of shame again, I want you to think of it as the walk of change.
Keep your head up high and wave to all your peers with a big gigantic smile.
Life after a job loss can be difficult but so life changing if you listen to the changes that are taking place within and honor them by doing something about them.
If you are reading this sitting at home in between jobs I want you to know that there is no better place to be.
In charge of your destiny once again.
But don’t stay in the space in between (The Waiting Room) for too long.
PS. Second Firsts has helped people reenter the workforce as well. The Reentry process walks with you to the other side.
Also make sure you read my blog on Positively Positive.