"You've done nothing wrong!"
That's one of the most important messages Dr. Phil McGraw wants to send you as you try to recover from these difficult times and try to find work. "The decisions that caused this economic crisis happened at pay grades way above you and me. We're kind of caught up in the flow here."
"It's not your fault!"
That's the main thing Dr. Phil wants you to realize if you're out of work and trying desperately to find a job. "This is not something you have created by being lazy or unprepared for life," he says.
There's plenty of advice out there from experts and coaches about how to recover professionally, but very few people address the emotional impact of job loss, or its effects on family members and friends. That, however, is what McGraw is all about.
"You've gotta be clear with yourself that you've done nothing wrong, it's not appropriate to feel guilt, it's not appropriate to feel shame." McGraw knows this from firsthand experience -- even he has felt the pain of being fired (See 5 Quick Questions, below).
Dr. Phil reached out specifically to AOL Jobs readers to give them encouragement, along with the emotional tools to get through these difficult times. Whether you've lost a job yourself, or you know someone who has (and who doesn't?) this advice could be just the lifeline that's needed.
Q. How do you stay motivated during a long job search?
A. I always tell people that life is a marathon. It's not a sprint. Think of it this way: You're out in the ocean, in a boat, it capsizes. People know you're out there, and they're coming (to save you). The question is, can you stay afloat until they get there? That's what I want people to do during these tough economic times. Do whatever you have to do to stay afloat. If that means taking a job outside your profession, if that means doing something beneath what you've done before, if that means piecing together two or three part-time jobs, that's OK. Just stay afloat until things turn around. You will get another chance to do what you do, you will get another chance to be fully functioning. The question is, will you still be afloat when that chance comes around? So hang in there, and just don't give up.
Q. How do you overcome your fear of rejection or failure?
A. If you know that fear of rejection is really getting in your way, if you're feeling shame and guilt about where you are, here's a tip: Talk about this with other people. Talk about the fact that you don't have a job. Talk about the fact that you're out there in the market. Because many other people out there are in the same situation, and the worst thing you can do is to withdraw and get isolated. If you talk to other people you'll realize that there's no reason for shame and guilt, and you won't worry about rejection because right now, it's just part of the truth, and you're going to have to hear "no" a lot of times before you hear "yes," but you only need one yes and you're back in the game.
Q. How can you stay confident during a long job search?
A. I think the best thing you can do is to decide, before you walk into the room, what you have to offer. You don't need to try and guess what that job is going to involve or know what they're going to need, but know who you are. Know that you have intelligence, know that you have energy, know that you have passion, know that you are willing to be a jack of all trades. Because if you walk in there and you look somebody in the eye and you say, "I can help you today. I am willing to roll my sleeves up, I do floors, I do windows, I do whatever you need. If you give me a track to run on, you're going to be proud of your decision."
You can say that, but you also need to know it. Know that you have what it takes. And the only person you have to convince of that is you. Once you believe it, and you acknowledge your gifts, skills, traits and characteristics that make you uniquely who you are, you won't have any trouble convincing somebody else -- but it starts with you.
Q. How can you prevent unemployment or the stress of job searching from impacting your relationships?
A. One of the things I worry about most is the trickle-down effect of job loss and economic strife in the family. You are worried and you are disappointed, and therefore you are frustrated. There's something that I call 'non-directional venting.' Your spouse didn't do anything to cause your job to go away, but yet (he or she) is handy. They're in your cross-hairs. So all this frustration comes bubbling up, and you dump it on your partner. Don't do that. In fact, sit down with your partner and say, "I am really feeling frustrated right now, and I feel like I wanna scream, and you're handy, but I don't want to scream at you, so I just want to tell you what I'm feeling." Recognize that you and your spouse, you and your children, you're all in this together. Everybody wants you to have a job. Everybody wants you to feel good about who you are and what you're doing. They're on your side. Don't alienate the No. 1 allies in your life, because they've got your back.
Q. What is the best way to emotionally support someone who is unemployed?
A. If you're the spouse, the friend or the sibling of someone who's lost their job and they're going through difficult times, you have so much that you can offer this person. They're going to be having a lot of self doubt. They're going to be having an identity crisis. They're going to be wondering, "How come I don't have traction in this world?" I can't tell you what it would mean to them for you to step up and say, "You are so talented. You have such a history of working, of being productive, of making a contribution! There's no way you're not going to find somebody who recognizes that and puts you back in the game. And if you want to talk about that, please, let's talk about it. I'll brainstorm with you, I'll help you come up with more strategies."
Let them know you believe in them and tell them why. Not just "I believe in you because you're my brother," but "I believe in you because you're intelligent, you've got a great work ethic, you have skill sets." Don't just let them know that this is blind support, let them know why you feel that way. They need to hear that, and when you're finished saying it, I promise you they'll repeat it to themselves.