1. YOU GOT FIRED
Out of a job? So were Steve Jobs and Howard Stern in their 30s. “Understanding you’re not the first person to whom this has occurred can normalize your experience,” says Geoffrey Greif, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Maryland School of
Own Your role
Blaming yourself—or someone else—for your problems only works for so long, says clinical psychologist Stephan Poulter, Ph.D. Owning up to your role in what went wrong can, on the other hand, be a truth serum. You might figure out what you want (a more engaging gig), what you were disappointed with (the lack of responsibility), or what your unspoken expectations were (more flexible hours). “This kind of self-reflection becomes a compass on how to navigate moving forward,” Poulter says. The next step: making the changes to address those discoveries.
And once you get rehired . . . It’s easier to find a new job when you have a job. So network strategically. Seek out interviews, meet with mentors, mentor younger employees, and know how your field is evolving and if your skills are, too.
2. YOU GOT DIVORCED
First marriages that don’t work out typically end in the 30s. The resulting big changes can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to process, says Poulter. So let the dust settle, then use these strategies to saddle up again.
Write a New Story
“People going through separation often have a problem of managing
their stress,” says David A. Sbarra, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Arizona. “That in and of itself is a problem you have to solve.” It’s fine to go over forensics. (Is there a pattern in my relationships?) But an important element of recovery is stepping out of the story of how everything is terrible. For insight on your next move, reach out to those in similar situations (your buddy who split from his wife) as well as opposite ones (the guy at work who has been married for 25 years), suggests Greif. Talk to multiple people, triangulate, and create a new road map.
Embrace your core values. Doing enjoyable activities with people you like spending time with helps reaffirm the good: who you are and what makes you happy. This is an opportunity to do all the stuff you wanted to with friends and family.
3. YOU MESSED UP
Whether you crossed the line with a female coworker or made a tone-deaf, Matt Damon–like #MeToo comment, you need to address the issue.
My behavior was out of character. I’m humiliated by what I did. Guess what, pal: This isn’t
about you. “It’s about the person you hurt,” says Men’s Health advisor Avi Klein, a New York City–based psychotherapist. Acknowledge the impact on them—you made another person feel unsafe or self-conscious. It shows you’re aware of the effects of your actions. “There’s no end to how much empathy you can give someone when you’ve done something wrong,” he says. Allow the other person to decide how they will interact with you (or not). It’s respectful, and it also gives them the agency you robbed them of—important in evening out power imbalances.
Create a plan to make amends. It shows you’re taking the problem seriously. Tell people that you’ll answer any questions. It’s on you to start difficult conversations and make those around you comfortable enough to share concerns.
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