Being Content WithOUT A Job

I know that headline may take some surprise.  How in the world can anyone possibly use the word “content”  when they’re not sure how they’re going to live and how they will make it?  This is a difficult concept to comprehend, but before you discount it let me explain.

I have lived through a job loss so I don’t speak from a textbook theory but rather real-life, painful experience.   I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it and what I would do to survive.  After a lengthy unemployment and going through all the emotions of worrying, fear, anxiety and probably depression (now looking back) and not knowing what to do with myself, I actually learned a valuable lesson and that is how to be content when all the things I knew how to do to gain employment didn’t work.

Being content withOUT a job.  This is not your TYPICAL job-seeker solution.  With the current economy and massive job lay-offs we generally won’t hear the phrase “content without a job” used very often.  Emotions of fear, anxiety and worry accompany losing a job – that’s normal and I don’t discount the reality of these emotions.  Paying the mortgage, utilities, car payments, insurance and food becomes the number one concern for anyone who finds themselves suddenly unemployed.  It feels at that moment that it is truly about survival.   The hard truth is that job security and stability is a thing of the past and we can no longer base our hopes on job longevity, no matter what industry we’ve come from.  But there is a “space” that we can create in our own minds where we can be content while we seek for new employment opportunities.

Content is defined as” being satisfied with what one has while we seek for something else.   It resembles having an “attitude of gratitude” while we make adjustments in our minds to our new temporary reality.  It calls for starting where we are and with what we have and not looking at what we don’t have or what we’ve lost.   It’s EXTREMELY difficult to find gratefulness when we’re angry, hurt and worried about our survival and how we’re going to make ends meet.   Our brains automatically turn to the worst case scenario when we face traumatic events thereby inciting more panic and anxiety.  Our thoughts begin to create our realities and we manifest what we’re constantly thinking and speaking about.  The “space” of contentment allow us to find creative solutions to life’s challenges.  Anxiety and creativity cannot reside in the same space.  If we are in a constant state of panic our brains are literally scrambled and we can’t think logically nor can we “receive and perceive” correctly.  Fear sets in and paralyzes us from having clear, concise thoughts and to come up with solutions that will move us forward.  Achievement and accomplishment is at the heart of our western American culture.  So much of who we are is wrapped up in what we do.   When we’re not “doing” we feel as if there is something terribly wrong with us – hence not knowing what to “do” with ourselves and feeling low self-worth.  The INCORRECT information we’ve been taught is that we are defined as human beings by what we DO for a living.  That’s false.  What you DO is not who you ARE.

Content is the opposite of discontent.  Being discontent is being dissatisfied with one’s circumstances. I’ve coached and consulted with many job-seekers who have been out of work for 12 months or more who went through a period of feeling depressed, sad, lonely, angry and fearful.  After working through the transition process with me they found that they found a whole new person inside they never knew existed.  I believe that none of this would have happened unless they went through the process of learning “how” to let go and move on.   The first step in the process is to just be content.

Tracy Y. Washington is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Job Loss Transition Strategist, Author, Speaker, Coach,  & Trainer.  She has helps organizations and individuals transition through loss to restore and renew their lives and communities.

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