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Ask The Expert : Redundancies are looming, how can I stop worrying that it may be me?

My company have announced that they are going to be making 70 people redundant within the next year.  We have not been told who is going to be made redundant or the dates it may happen.  I am very worried and think about it all the time.  It has got to the point where I am finding it difficult to sleep at night or to be motivated at work.  How can I be more resilient during this very difficult time?

This is a very common question that I have been asked again and again during the current economic situation.  Living with uncertainty can make a person think more negatively than they would do ordinarily.  Unfortunately the more uncertainty there is the likelihood of negative thinking, thus pessimism, increases.  Being pessimistic decreases your resilience, so, the first thing you could do to decrease the negativity and start to think more optimistically is to reframe the situation.  Optimism is one of the most important of the resilience factors.  I am not talking about pie in the sky, bury your head in the sand optimism, no, I am talking about realistic optimism.  Your ability to reframe the situation and see the change in a different way is a crucial first step.

You could reframe the situation by thinking there is absolutely nothing you can do about the redundancies, they are going to happen so I am not going to worry about whether or not it is going to be me.  I will take this opportunity to update my CV and think about other jobs that I may be suitable for in the future.  By simply reframing the situation it puts you into a more optimistic mind frame and allows you to start to have some control over the situation.  Remember, you cannot change the situation, but you can change how you react to it.

Reframing will automatically take you to another important resilience skill called causal analysis, simply put it means problem solving.  This means looking at a problem from different perspectives and looking at the bigger picture.  Again, you will start to think you have more control over your situation and certainly begin to feel less anxious and more optimistic.  Once again, if you were to look at using the skill of causal analysis in your situation you could think about where to send your CV, think outside of the box.  There are many sites that you could send your CV off to.  So rather than wait to be told your fate, you’re taking your future into your own hands.  If you have thought about starting your own business or becoming self-employed you could think about how to do this.

Importantly having the ability to control your impulses is paramount to becoming more resilient.  Being able to stop and think without reacting hastily allows you to resolve problems and stops you from becoming irrational in a rational situation.  Therefore, stepping away from your situation without reacting will help re-balance your thinking.

Reaching out is another of the resilience skills which is important for two reasons.  Firstly, having a good social support network will help you cope with the feelings of uncertainty.   So talking to friends and family about what you’re thinking and feeling will help during anxious times.  Secondly, ask for support from whatever your company has in place.  If you feel comfortable speaking to your manager then this is a good starting point.  This will allow the rapport between your manager and yourself to increase which will, in turn, foster a more trusting environment.

Finally, the art of emotional regulation which is another of the resilience skills is crucial for lots of reasons.  I do not mean detach from the situation and don’t think about it.  This is counterproductive because the more you can engage in the situation the more you will remain connected and motivated.  Therefore staying engaged can be difficult when all you want to do is forget about it.  It is important to know what you’re feeling then manage those feelings appropriately.  If you’re feeling angry then that is okay, however, you will have to manage that anger in a safe way.  If you’re feeling despondent then this will lead to a lack of motivation which will show itself in lots of ways, for example, you may start to feel like not updating your CV or looking for alternative work as a result of this despondency.  Once again, it is okay to feel despondent, however you must manage that despondency in order to problem solve and become more optimistic.

Feelings of despondency can also lead to a lowering of your self- efficacy.  Self-efficacy is all about your belief systems and your confidence.  The more you believe you have no control over a situation, and that “others” control you, the more at risk you are of becoming less confident.  My advice is simple.  If you cannot change your situation and you have tried lots of different ways to change it, then accept the situation and find a way of problem solving.  When you start to problem solve your self-esteem and confidence will start to increase.  If you go into a situation thinking you won’t be able to do it, for example looking for a new job, chances are you won’t.  If you think you can, chances are you will.  It’s like Mark Twain said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t you’re probably right”.

Finally, bear in mind that change can be a positive thing if thought of differently, and that everything passes.

This article’s expert was Dr Angela Smith

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