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Is losing a job a matter of shame?

It was 2 am I looked at their peaceful faces. They were deep in sleep. I tiptoed my way out of the bedroom carefully closing the door behind me, not to wake them.

The night sky of the millennium city was well lit as if it was morning. The neon sign boards of corporate greed and injustice flashed in front of my eyes. It filled every ounce of me with anger and rage. I was exhausted in my role as a new mother. I was weak on my knees. I stooped down on the ground. As I cringed my eyes tears rolled down my cheeks. That one moment, I could feel the horrors of my world crumbling down in front of me. As I gasped for breath I raised my neck upward once again. I glanced at the sky.

There were million eyes looking down upon me. It was not the same millennium night sky. I was still. The only clear sound I could hear was the sound of my heart beating. What was that moment? Suddenly I felt lost at the vastness of the sky. Suddenly I bowed my head on the ground as if something greater and stronger than me is watching over me. I felt watched. A strong feeling of power and presence took over my entire being.

I just knew you were there. Bigger than me, bigger than my problems , bigger than the flashy neon sign boards of the city, bigger than all. And I surrendered with my head bowed down, palms folded. This was my journey. My partner lost his job. As a family we were totally dependent on his earnings. Yes. At that time it did feel like the end of the world.

A lot of us start identifying ourselves with the little roles we play at someone’s place of business. We find it absolutely impossible to look beyond our titles and designations. First, our identity becomes the schools and collages we pass from and then it boils down to our company and work we do there. Sure. we do spend a chunk of our day doing worldly duties to take care of our and our family’s need. However, ask yourself this absolutely necessary question- Is it really worth it?

I was once in conversation with a participant from a course which I had conducted years ago. After few minutes he revealed to me his big business plans and how he is saving to send his young daughter into the best medical school. So in the flow of the conversation, I just happened to ask- what is she like now? All grown up? He paused. And there was an awkward silence. In coaching these silences create moments of revelation. Not to my surprise. His reply was- I don’t know. Guilt, especially the parental one usually caches us off guard like that if we are on an autopilot of life.

In last couple of years I heard many people’s story of job loss, job hopping, poor performance, Layoffs, termination etc. while whatever may be the case the underlying truth comes out as – “I am not good enough. I need to do more, have more, be more to prove my worth. ”if these expectations remain unmet then they are followed by a deep sense of embarrassment, shame and humiliation to top it all. Irrespective of the age, designation, profile or position.

With the current changing global economic situation, let us explore this rampant situation a bit more.

I met a very young Ananya (name changed), She was managing many life changes- a new marriage, position in a new family, a job title which she didn’t even like so much. She was petrified of losing her job and overwhelmed with all the expectations of people around her. Friends, family, even neighbours. Soon her coping mechanism became turning into subtle addictions which if left unchecked could have led to disastrous outcomes.

Initially we started with relaxation techniques. We chalked out a plan for her career which was not solely dependent on that one job. Still, creating lots of space and time for her and her new family. Openly discussing and expressing her needs to her partner. And finally creating firm boundaries especially with people whose opinion did not even matter.

As for us, as a family we surely saw some tough days. And at the same time there was always sumptuous and desired food on our table, roof above our head. Family and friends stood up for support and all the required help was available. Till we found our way through the next phase of our life.

I felt supported, deeply cared for and watched over just like the promise of those million eyes.

Life loves you!

And so it is.

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