A long, unsuccessful job search can stir up feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. If you're going to survive until the storm breaks, you've got to learn to separate your emotions from reality. Your emotions might tell you that your self-worth and self-respect is intrinsically linked to money and success, but the truth is, you're worthy of happiness no matter how many dollars are in your bank account. In the meantime, focus on what you have that no amount of money can buy, such as the love and support of your family and friends.
You might feel alone, but you aren’t alone. Thousands of people are out of work and feeling hopeless just like you. The problem is, they aren’t in your apartment with you, wearing matching bathrobes and similar scowls; they’re out in the world, where you should be. Leave your comfort zone and find like-minded people. Join a support group for the unemployed -- if you can’t find one, create one. You need to talk to other people who can empathize with how you’re feeling. Plus, if you put your minds together, you might come up with solutions you have not considered before.
Do Something Different
Filling out job applications all day can be depressing, especially if you’ve given up the hope that any of them will lead to an actual job. Give yourself permission to take one - or several -- days off. Just like people can get burned out working too hard, they can get also get burned out from looking too hard for work. Close the classifieds and remind yourself what you like about life. Go to a bookstore and lose yourself in fantastic tales, take a long, therapeutic bath or have a candlelit picnic under the stars. Job or no job, you deserve to feel happy.
Its hard for the mind to concentrate on two emotions at the same time, so trade in your hopeless heart for an attitude of gratitude. No matter what you’re going through, it could always be worse. Make a list of things you appreciate -- sample items might include, “good health,” “the love of family and friends,” “my quirky sense of humor,” “beautiful eyes,” “summer sunrise,” “my fighting spirit,” or “peanut butter.” Conquer hopelessness by finding reasons to say, “Thank you.”
Mine Your Hidden Treasure
Maybe the fact that you haven’t gotten a job is really a blessing in disguise. It gives you time to ask yourself -- “If money was no object, what would I do with my life?” Do you have skills or talents you never developed because your time was consumed with work? Use your hiatus from work to recalibrate your life’s direction. Perhaps being unemployed is a divine detour used to help you stumble back onto your original course.
Make Yourself Useful
Boost your personal power by volunteering your time and energy to help people in circumstances more dire than yours. Putting your problems aside to help the less fortunate will help put your issues into perspective. You might discover you aren’t as bad off as you thought, or at least find additional systems of support.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.