Stage 3: Anger m4.jpg

When Jennifer lost her job as a lab assistant, she reports, "People wouldn't return my phone calls or respond to my letters. One time, I went to a grocery store and saw a former associate walking down the aisle beside me. For an instant, our eyes met, and then she raced ahead without acknowledging me and ducked into another aisle. It was as though I'd suddenly become a plague victim, and no one would deign to come near me." She was furious. "All I wanted to do was even the score with everyone from my former associate to my next-door neighbor who'd stopped making eye contact with me. I just needed for everyone to know how it felt."

Once the fear and panic have run their course, you become "unzapped." You fume about your former workplace and whatever else thwarts you:

  • This isn't fair.
  • How can they do it to me?
  • This is an outrage.
  • They have no right.
  • How would they like it?
  • They can't imagine how I feel.
  • They're rude and insensitive.
  • How can I get through to them?

Because there's no specific person at whom you can vent your rage, the anger accumulates inside of you. You "stew in your own juices," as it were. Your anger gets the heart beating, head thumping, and adrenaline flowing. You can't sit still or you'll explode. You want action now. It would feel great to reach out and throttle someone. Revenge dominates your thinking. You want to knock others out of their routines, wipe the smug looks off their faces, and spread the agony.

Of course, you can't give into your anger. But you can use it. The secret to coping effectively is to channel your anger.

Anger is fire in your belly.

  • It's righteous indignation. And it can energize you.
  • Properly channeled, anger will make the difference between your being successful and unsuccessful in your job search.
  • You can use your anger to propel yourself into positive activities that will lead to reemployment, when the time is right.
But the flip side is that, if you let your anger fester, it will overwhelm and immobilize you. You'll not only be unemployable, but you'll also be impossible to live with or near. All you'll get in return for your anger is alienation, which will lead to more fury, and the cycle will continue. To break out of this stage and, ultimately, put the trauma of unemployment behind you, you must learn to work through righteous your anger and forgive.

Coping With Anger

"If you want a stain out, shout it out," extolled the old laundry detergent commercial.

  • Shouting in an appropriate setting -say, inside your basement or garage when no one else is around - is an appropriate way of exhausting your anger, too. Your body will take the liberty of translating your emotions into physical actions, so why not take advantage of it?
  • There's never been a better time to install a punching bag in your spare room, put on the gloves, and go about the business of getting into peak physical condition.
  • Alternatively, you can walk, run, or go to the soccer field and kick goals until you're exhausted. Other people report that kneading bread dough, beating sofa cushions, or throwing pillows helps them vent.
When I needed to burn off my anger at losing my job, I wholeheartedly embraced an assignment from my mother-in-law, who needed an electrical line installed. My task was to dig a hundred-foot trench and bury the cable. You know something? It felt great! If Mom hadn't needed my help, I would have shoveled concrete, dug a well in my backyard, or done anything that made me sweat until I dropped.

But that doesn't mean you can't fantasize about it.

  • In your imagination, you can empty a five-pound bag of sugar into your boss's brand new Corvette.
  • You can throw darts at a board that you overlay with a picture of your supervisor until you're worn out.
  • Whatever you can do without hurting yourself or anyone else is appropriate.
What you shouldn't do with your rage is suck it in, or air it at the wrong times or in the wrong places.
  • Avoid the temptation to disparage your company and former employer in professional settings, such as during interviews or networking sessions, because an angry person -rightfully - is perceived as unemployable.
  • The worst thing you can do is pretend that your Anger does not exist.

Remember, Anger turned inwards may lead to Depression. Professional Counseling for appropriate Anger Management is available from many sources.

┬ęCopyright 2008 Professionals In Transition Support Group, Inc.

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