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ASK THE THERAPISTS: Coping when you’re between jobs, living with your parents

I’ve just moved back in town after working abroad for a few years, which I thought would give me valuable experience. I’m back living with my parents again and have no job in sight for the fall. I am trying to stay positive, but the reality is, my life sucks right now. What should I do?

Blair

I had a young person come to me last week for help on the same issue. Even though her family was willing to support her in the meantime, she was still panicked to find something to fill the void, so she wouldn’t have to feel like a failure in the face of unemployment. But it’s often in these times of change when we have the most prospects to draw from, if we look at the big picture.

If you’re as fortunate as she was, I would recommend you take some time to explore your options, instead of hastily jumping into something just to have a job. I always tell my clients who are facing a fork in the road decisions make themselves. What I mean is that if the path is not clear yet, just wait a bit, put yourself out there, see what opportunities arise and, most importantly, follow your bliss (as Joseph Campbell would say).

In times like this, it’s helpful to know about other people who have struggled just like you, and come out on top, so here are but a few examples. Thomas Edison attempted to build the light bulb 1,000 times before succeeding. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Imagine where we’d be if he had gotten fed up with his dark pursuit of light?

At the start of her career, Katherine Hudson was dropped by a number of record labels, which is enough to make anyone believe they don’t have what it takes to succeed in the music industry. But she persevered, changed her name to Katy Perry and snagged a contract with Capitol Records. Her next album, Teenage Dream, topped the charts, becoming the first album by a female artist to produce five number-one songs in the U.S. You don’t have to be a fan of Katy Perry’s music, like the women in my house are, but we can all appreciate her uncompromising faith in her vision.

On a practical note, I recommend you seek out support of others in your desired field. Ask them how they entered the market here, and if they have any contacts or connections you might leverage. There are also a number of employment agencies that can help to hone your focus so be sure to reach out to the government resources that exist.

Jenny

I am reminded of a story of a young man who lost his job and was feeling similar to you. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and giving up (the common choice of action), he bought a suit on his credit card and landed an entry level position at a moving company. When his colleagues saw him arrive in a suit, they ridiculed him and asked what he was doing dressed like that for manual work. He quickly replied, “I’m starting here, but I’m not staying here.” Instead of being pulled down by fear and despair, he let himself be held up by his inner vision. In a few months he was promoted to a corporate position and his life expanded from there.

I share this story because fear energy doesn’t bring us closer to our desired goals, in fact it actually squelches our dreams and stifles our creativity. This is your life and your future we’re talking about, so now is the time to garner your faith and confidence in yourself and do everything you can to affirm your potential.

After I left my permanent teaching position in Vancouver and went to India to study yoga, I returned to the Maritimes feeling anxious about my unknown future. Although I didn’t know what my new life would look like, I knew how I wanted to feel and I allowed that feeling to guide my way. It was like walking down a winding path in the woods at night, each day was a mystery, but I trusted that with each step, the path would reveal itself, and it did.

Your doubt about your future is not uncommon. In fact, it’s a pretty standard human reaction since we have wired within us, an instinct to expect the worse. But with the support of neuroscience today, we can be comforted in knowing that this negativity trap that our minds tend to fall into is optional. The way to work with this natural mindset of doom in the face of the unknown is to surround yourself with positive materials, like self-help books, TED Talks etc. and spend time with supportive people. And in those quiet moments when your mind wants to slide into its dark hole, enforce the power of gratitude to help shift your mind from what you don’t have to what you do. As imperfect as your life may be in the moment, there’s always something to be grateful for. Start a list of all the things you are thankful for in this wonderful, crazy life you have and contribute to it daily.

Remember, you’re starting here, not staying here. Give your dreams a chance and don’t give up!

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