When Losing Your Job Means Losing Your Self

Our jobs constitute a big part of our life – so losing it suddenly can be very disconcerting & disorientating for us to cope with. Questions can arise – such as who am I? Why me? What’s wrong with me? In psychology there are labels to describe this – role theory & “work centrality” – where a person’s identity is so linked to their job if work. (As an aside we all know that when meeting people one of the first questions we are asked is: “What do you do?”

Redundancy can impact upon us not just financially, but emotionally, shaking our esteem. It can also impact upon & displace a person from their social support networks – their “workplace tribe”. Even voluntary redundancy can impact upon people emotionally resulting in feelings of rejection, grief, loss, hurt, anxiety, even embarrassment, fear, anger, betrayal & helplessness.

& when one reflects on the often de-humanising experience of redundancy with its euphemistic language such as “surplus to requirements” & “dis-established”… well, it can be difficult to cope.

The trick is how to separate ourselves & our identity from our work.

Mark Taylor | Canberra Psychologist
Source: The Canberra Times, 19 July 14


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