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Five ways unemployment can cripple your self-esteem


I was working out with a friend recently and we started chatting about her job search. It had only been a few months since she had been looking and already the novelty of staying at home and creating a home worthy of HGTV as a way to occupy her time and be positive had long since died. Instead, she was beginning to experience a new world, one that she did not enjoy and was frustrated. I’ve seen it so often and, especially among men, long periods of unemployment can bring the most self-assured, professionally astute person to their knees in a ball of frustration and hopelessness.{{more}} How does this happen?

Isolation. When you are unemployed, especially if you used to work in an environment with lots of people, you no longer have that professional human interaction. Instead, you are now at home alone or possibly with family who themselves may not be working for various reasons. Television cannot fill the void, and even if you are taking care of a loved one, you still yearn for adult stimulation that is work oriented.

Solution: Find a hobby that involves interacting with others on a regular basis and do it frequently. Volunteer at a local non-profit; this will not only occupy your time, but will give you a chance to meet new people who can potentially refer you to job opportunities where they are employed.

Inability to contribute. We humans like to feel important; we are born that way. Watch a child help out around the house and the pride on his/her face is priceless. That does not change as we get older. Most people have a sense of gratification when they realize that the work they do is positively making an impact. When that is taken away by the loss of a job, the individual loses that sense of being valuable to anyone.

Solution: Your volunteer assignment will assist you with this one as well. Reach out to others at your gym, religious place of worship or your next door neighbour. Even if it’s cleaning a yard, make a contribution to someone in some way. Your life is not as bad as you think; you will see there is someone in a much worse situation who is still able to make the most of living.

Dull skills. There is no way to simulate work for many professions if you are at home all day long. Chances are, if you are not using the skills on a regular basis, they inevitably will become dull, and in some cases obsolete, as technology changes so quickly.

Solution: Take online classes. Many are free, so stay current and practise those skills by creating your own project or working alongside someone in your community who needs help.

Poor body image. Poor body image disproportionately affects women, especially those who held jobs where they were required to dress to impress in a corporate environment. Changing from tailored suits to sweats, T-shirts and no makeup over time will affect how you see yourself.

Solution: Make an effort to shower daily and get dressed as if you are going to work. You do not need to wear a suit, but the routine will help. Spend time exercising with friends and set mini health goals, even if money may be a bit tight. If you can’t afford a gym membership, exercise outside.

Negative self talk. The mind is truly powerful and this is where you must be vigilant. All of the above attacks usually happen all at once and your mind will no doubt confirm all of them, especially as your savings dwindle and the financial pressure is increased.

Solution: Listen to motivational messages, read uplifting books, set small goals and celebrate as you reach those goals. Find accountability partners you can check in with on a weekly and bi-weekly basis. Having more than one person will ensure you do not burn out one individual and you can stagger your interactions.


Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE
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