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Maintaining a Positive Outlook During Unemployment

Maintaining a Positive Outlook During Unemployment KnowledgeToWork.com
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Posted in category Job Searching by

When you're unemployed it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook on your occupational future. You can spend hours applying for a job only to receive an automated rejection email two weeks later, and it can seem as if the application, resume, and cover letter that you spent hours developing went straight into a black hole.

It's very important to stay positive while job searching, however, as a negative outlook can actually impact your chances of success. Anticipatory anxiety is one state of mind to be particularly wary of, as it can snowball into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anticipatory anxiety is anxiety or worry about a perceived or real event in the future. Snowballing occurs when you allow that fear to build on itself, exacerbating the anxiety.  A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when you allow that worry to affect you, internally and externally, ultimately allowing that perceived event to become real.  Consider this example: I am worried that an upcoming interview will not go well and I will not receive a job offer afterward. As the interview approaches, I develop a negative attitude about the interview because I have convinced myself that I will not receive a job offer. I just want to get the interview over with, receive the rejection, and move on. When the interview occurs, my negative attitude makes a poor impression on the potential employer and I do receive a rejection. I therefore actually caused my fears to become reality because of my mental state.

Some small things you can do to maintain a positive outlook during this period:

  • Leave the house every day. It's easy to stay in pajamas and get into a rut of complacency. However, it's important to shower, dress, and interact with others on a regular basis, just as you do when you're gainfully employed.
  • Stay positive. Every time you apply, interview, and engage, do so with a positive attitude. Only you know of your re-employment struggles. Your interviewer assumes that whatever state of job search you're in is your choice and that you're satisfied with it.
  • Consider Dialectical Behavior Therapy techniques to help you reframe your negative thinking. DBT includes four sets of behavioral skills.
    • Mindfulness: the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment
    • Distress Tolerance: how to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it
    • Interpersonal Effectiveness: how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others
    • Emotion Regulation: how to change emotions that you want to change
    • Here is a great low cost Self-help resource
It's very important to stay positive while job searching, however, as a negative outlook can actually impact your chances of success. Anticipatory anxiety is one state of mind to be particularly wary of, as it can snowball into a self-fulfilling prophecy.


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