117. The Layoff Episode

Last week, my department got laid off, along with dozens of others around my organization.

In my  job as an internal consultant, I made use of my talents to help the people I cared the most about: the employees (from front line to leaders). It was in the direct help to employees that I derived the most work satisfaction. I will definitely be mourning the loss of the opportunity to help my co-workers for a long time to come.

I am unsure what I will pursue. At this moment, many roads seem viable that I hadn't seen before. I am both strengthened and overwhelmed at the choices. I really want to be in a position in which I can continue to help workers achieve better outcomes for their customers and themselves.

Extra Panel:

The Psychology of it All

It had been telegraphed to us that we would lose our jobs, so I had time to build up to it emotionally. Or so I thought! The mixture of shame, disappointment and anger that comes after a moment like this is not possible to prepare for. I always like to put on a good face because I know how contagious negativity and discontent can be; however, part of me just wants to yell at the sky for hours. That part of me is wrong! Venting is not a good coping mechanism.

What I just said goes against the dime-store psychology theory of the benefits of venting. Well it turns out that venting is NOT an effective coping mechanism for these situations. Neither is co-ruminating, which is group shit-talking. These processes leave the listeners with a negative burden that could be contagious. I used to engage in those behaviors a lot, but turns out pity parties are not good parties.

So what's left? If not venting, what coping mechanisms do we have left? Two common ones are reappraisal and suppressing.  Think of suppressing as your typical toxic masculine stereotype, in which you simply don't exhibit your feelings at all to anyone. Reappraisal is a cognitive effort to change or construct the story in rational terms. Research seems to show that reappraisal is a much better strategy. An example of reappraisal is writing at length about your feelings in a blog that's supposed to be about shitty comics.

One last strategy is of course, non-judgmental acceptance. Mindfulness advocates will recognize this strategy, as it is similar to what you hope to achieve with meditation. It is the one I am working towards. An interesting recent study compared it to reappraisal and found it to be more effective at less cognitive cost.

Your therapist is the best option to guide you through this, as they will allow you to vent if you need to or help you if you need to reappraise your situation. They can also recommend strategies for achieving acceptance. Meditation is a good practice to learn, regardless of your situation.

Thanks for reading and may you all be gifted with a great week!


  1. You failed to mention the coping mechanism most studied and practiced since ancient times, a method I and everyone I have ever known has used successfully time after time: Revenge. Find the bean-counter who thinks he or she is on some holy mission to cut the cost of health care, get a uni-sex tin tub, a bag of cement, some cheese and a bottle of wine, and have a little party down by the river. Just. Kidding. Of. Course.


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