Staying Out of Victimhood in Career Transition

After experiencing a layoff, role elimination, or furlough, it’s common to ask, “Why me?” and feel like we’re a victim. And while it’s perfectly normal (and a good thing) to go through a grieving process with job loss and it’s OK to feel down in the dumps for a while, it’s not going to serve you well to take on the mantle of victimhood for any real length of time, potentially impeding your progress to discover what’s next.

Unless you were let go due to a performance issue, it’s not your fault that this happened to you. There’s only so much you can control when you work for someone else. Things like mergers and acquisitions, market and economic forces, natural disasters, pandemics, and other unforeseen events or circumstances aren’t typically situations that most people have a hand in, regardless of their role or industry.

What you can do, then, is engage in behaviors to shift your mindset, take positive actions, and let go of any resentment or grudges you may be holding onto that lead to you getting in your own way, engaging in self-sabotage and limiting your chances of landing that next role.

Here are a few ideas of what you can do to avoid languishing in victimhood:

  1. Forgive those who you perceive as having done you wrong as best you can. While easier said than done, make a list of who (or what entity) you may need to forgive, keeping in mind that as humans we are all flawed and make mistakes all the time. Whether you write it out or speak it aloud to yourself, it’s important to forgive to alleviate the weight.
  2. Acknowledge your role in things by paying attention to behaviors you engage in that get in your way and creating strategies to form different habits to combat them. Is your first reaction to blame someone else? Did you do or say something to contribute to the situation? Owning your role is a good place to start.
  3. Think of your job search or your journey to figure out what’s next as an opportunity – what you now “get” to do instead of “have” to do. You may realize that your current circumstance will turn out to be a blessing in disguise that gives you the impetus to move forward and do something different that reenergizes and refocuses you in a better way than before.
  4. Take comfort in the discomfort, as no one expects you to have everything figured out. This is a time of uncertainty and the important thing is that you start taking actions toward making a successful transition, whether expanding your network, identifying your professional brand, gaining clarity on what you want, updating your resume, etc.

As with many things in life, though corny, your attitude in how you perceive your setbacks makes a world of difference. After all, what’s better: living in victimhood or living a life you decide to intentionally create, forgiving people along the way to ease your burden?