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Dealing with Discouragement in Life and the Job Search

By Edie Fossey

Disappointment and discouragement are a part of life. Anyone facing challenges in a job, a job search, or other area knows that these two emotions surface all the time. In a job search, you review postings and find you don’t qualify, you apply and don’t hear back, you interview and are told they accepted someone else. And career advancement also offers obstacles.

There are a host of emotions that go along with these disappointments—sadness, anger, apathy, denial and lack of control, to name a few. It’s easy to dwell on these emotions if you allow yourself, but they drain your energy, and you need this energy to overcome and move ahead. So how do you get through the disappointment of an unexpected setback?

First, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to feel them. Some time alone to process may be all you need. Some people find relief by writing out the feelings in a list starting with “I am sad because ___,” “I am angry because ___,” “I am hurt because ___.” It’s cathartic and gives you a visual of your emotions to help you put them away. Other times talking with a friend to let the emotion out and get another perspective and/or understanding is all it takes. Allow yourself this time.

Once you’ve processed the emotions, do something that recharges you. Take a walk in the sunshine, play with your dog, read a funny article or story, call an uplifting friend, watch an uplifting movie. Anything that puts you in a different mindset will start to recharge your batteries. Something physical allows you to release the negative energy too. And remember to focus on the things you are grateful for in your life.

The trait you are exercising is resiliency. It is the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. In her 2016 commencement address at USC, Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg told graduates, “The seeds of resiliency are planted in the way we process the negative events of our lives.”

Some things to keep in mind

It is important not to let your self-esteem get caught up too much in your goals. If you have your heart set on something and it doesn’t come to pass, your self-esteem disappears with it. Same goes for people who define themselves by their job title. Lose the job and where is the esteem? It will do you well to develop many ways of defining yourself. You are, after all, a multifaceted person. Reconnect with friends and loved ones, volunteer, get a hobby, help someone else, learn something new. Develop and recite affirmations to change negative feelings and thought patterns. These all build self-esteem.

Disappointments are temporary: They too shall pass. Learn from any mistakes, but always keep moving forward. Recognize that life changes constantly and what may be true today, may not be true tomorrow. Don’t let the disappointments cloud your view of the future. Even though this week was mostly cloudy, we know clouds pass and the sun will shine. So too with disappointments; sometimes they are blessings in disguise.

What’s next?

It’s time to plan. Look at what went wrong and why, and figure out what to do next. Ask questions like: Why did you want that job? Is there something else like it somewhere else? Are your skills in need of polishing? Does your resume need some wordsmithing? Make a plan to correct what needs to be corrected and set a new course. The act of planning allows you to take back control.

Planning has a way of making fear and anxiety disappear. Plan what you want to do for a job, how much money you want to be paid for it, location, the type of industry, who can help you, etc. Plan how to get around the setback, or choose a new direction. As you gain clarity, so do you gain calm and strength and develop a positive mindset. And you realize that you are resilient and do recover quickly from disappointments.

Edie Fosse

Edie Fossey, a marketing graphics traffic manager, can be reached by email.

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