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Use an Olympian’s Technique in your Job Search
By Damona Sain   View more articles by this author
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December 27

Here’s the scenario:  Alicia was laid off from her job in a way that made her feel like a pariah. As she arrived at work one morning, her supervisor met her as she was just entering the building.  On either side of him were security guards.  Without a warning he said, “This is the beginning of a series of layoffs; your job is eliminated.”

Can you imagine how Alicia felt?  Well, at first she was numb. And she hardly had time to react when her supervisor shocked her again by saying, “Gather your personal belongings and leave immediately.  The guards will escort you to your office and out of the building.”

What an ambush!  Alicia felt like a criminal.  Others in the building tried not to stare, but they couldn’t help it.  Alicia felt completely disrespected, belittled, and full of rage.  The fear and anxiety came later.

Do you have your own layoff horror stories?  And have you come to terms with all those feelings, or are you still seething underneath? If this is what happened to you, there’s something very constructive you can do about it.  It’s called the Job Loss Recovery Program, developed by Dr. Lynn Joseph, a California psychologist, who is a recognized career and life transition specialist, and author of the highly acclaimed book and CD, The Job-Loss Recovery Guide: A Proven Program for Getting Back to Work – Fast!

Losing your job can be one of the most traumatic experiences in your life, particularly in an economy that has lost a record number of jobs permanently.  It’s like a death.  There are so many feelings you experience, from shock and denial to depression, anger, guilt, and anxiety, just like those you might experience with the loss of someone very near and dear to you.   Until you can resolve the intensity of these feelings, it’s hard to move on and to find pleasure in life again.  It’s difficult to find the focus and confidence you need for job hunting with any consistency until you have the courage to recognize and acknowledge your true feelings, and then forgive others and yourself, which is not the same as condoning that boss’s bad behavior.

Dr. Joseph has realized how powerful the combination of relaxation and imagination is for resolving the strong emotions resulting from trauma. Using guided imagery after a relaxation exercise, she studied a group of laid off professionals and compared them with a similar group that did not use these techniques.   The results were amazing.   Five times the number of participants in the career transition program had begun full-time, permanent work—with no decrease in salary--than those in the placebo control group.

Moreover, Dr. Joseph studied how athletes use mental rehearsal to improve their performance.  High profile athletes who have practiced this technique include Michael Phelps and Lindsey Vonn, both gold medalists in their Olympic events.  In addition to using relaxation and guided imagery to overcome strong negative emotions, Dr. Joseph has used it for helping laid off workers do mental rehearsal for job interviews and other parts of the actual job search.  Just as this has helped the elite athletes, so it can assist job hunters. By imagining job interviews and rehearsing them again and again, it has helped them challenge old beliefs of “I’m not good enough,” and turn them into “I’m feeling more and more confident about my ability to land a good job!”  As Spencer Johnson’s characters in his book Who Moved My Cheese? said, “Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.” New beliefs spawn new behaviors.  “I’ll believe it when I see it” becomes “I’ll see it, when I believe it.”

Another part of this approach uses a way to tap into your “inner mentor” or “inner guide,” which is how your own inner wisdom is masqueraded.  This is also where resistance resides.  Again, using your imagination helps you confront what is holding you back and enables you to take action to go through it. Between imaging your mentor and something called “Your Future Self,” you become willing to make new choices for a new future. This creates the breakthrough that many job seekers either never find, or it takes them a very long time to move forward confidently.

In working with outplacement clients, I have found that most of them don’t realize how important it is to resolve old hurts before tackling the daunting search for another job.  Using guided imagery, or “mental rehearsal,” in a structured way, such as through the Job Loss Recovery Program, can make an incredible difference in the success or failure of a job hunt. The mind is a powerful tool for overcoming doubt and strengthening confidence.  Use it to learn to relax, manage your stress, resolve emotional blocks, boost confidence take control of your future, and land the job of your choice!

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April 6, 2016, 6:43:20 AM GMT
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