Any Emotion is Normal


word cloud of feelings after being laid off

Have you seen George Clooney’s movie, Up in the Air? It chronicles the life and work of Alex, a management consultant who lays people off. The movie has many themes about life and work. However, the one theme that stood out for me was that we all react differently when facing loss.

The loss of a job will mean different things to different people. In fact, my colleague Richard Deems, in his book, Make Job Loss Work for You, offers an insightful model for understanding how we react. He says that all loss is surrounded by fear, frustration, and a physical response (colds, flu, headaches, etc.) Beyond those reactions, we tend to move between six other emotions: Shock and Disbelief, Anger & Resentment, Denial & Bargaining, Self-doubt & Put-downs, Withdrawal & Depression, and eventually Acceptance & Affirmation. Some of us move through the stages quickly; other people may vacillate between stages or have “flashbacks” to Anger months after the loss.

If you are facing a job loss, it will be important to recognize that the reactions you are having are normal. It’s normal to ask, “why me?” It’s normal to feel angry with management or corporate. It’s normal to feel less than adequate. Feel it, recognize it, allow yourself a little time in each emotion, and then move on. Ask yourself, “how is this emotion helping me?” Once the emotion gets in the way of you moving on to a more productive place, it’s time to get going.

The people who were laid off in the movie Up in the Air are said to be actual victims of layoff. No wonder the acting was so good.

About the Author:

Marnie Green’s goal, via her Management Education Group, Inc. is to build confident leaders who produce extraordinary results. To accomplish this objective, her firm provides valuable step-by-step programs and facilitation services that create more effective leaders and team members. As a veteran human resource developer, she promises that participants will walk away from the programs she presents with practical ideas and skills.


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