SOCIAL SUPPORT: A Must Have to Manage Economic Stress

One of the worst feelings that a person who is actively looking for work can experience is thinking that they are being completely ignored by potential employers. You have e-mailed dozens of resumes and applications over the last month, waiting patiently (and hopefully) for a reply, even if it’s just an e-mail acknowledging receipt of your application, which would give you some encouragement that an employment opportunity may be on the horizon. You check your e-mail a dozen times a day because you don’t want to miss a response from a potential employer that requires a prompt reply lest you be perceived as uninterested. The lack of responses from employers may make you feel that you have some inherent deficit. You become irritated and start to second guess yourself with a series of thoughts which you don’t seem to be able to mute in your brain that begin to give way to fear and doubt e.g., Maybe I am using the wrong wording in my resume. Perhaps I don’t provide enough workplace achievements. Do I provide enough information or too much? Do I have too much education listed or too little listed? Maybe I should just list the bachelor’s degree instead of all of my degrees. Am I too young or too old? Oh my goodness, did I make a typographical error on the application and missed it and now they think that I am incompetent? AM I GOOD ENOUGH??? This routine can become a mind trap if you allow it to persist and it will not help you to be productive. So, stop!

For the millions that remain unemployed who are desperately looking for work while trying to cope with the economic stress that unemployment typically brings, the other challenge is managing being left alone with their thoughts because everyone else is at work. These thoughts can render a typically calm and rationale person completely incapacitated. The human mind is incredibly powerful and can propel us to extraordinary achievements but it can also facilitate descent into spaces of darkness from which there is seemingly no escape. Economic stress, which I define as the inability of a person or family to meet their financial obligations because of job loss, not enough work, job instability or low wages and the impact on their mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and economic well-being, can rock your foundation to the core, leaving your confidence, self-esteem and capacity to endure shattered in its wake, if you are not guarding your mind (see my post from October 28, 2014). My suggestion is to talk to someone about it and let’s assume that your very limited resources don’t allow you to consult a professional who charges by the hour.

After you have communicated to bill collectors that your ability to meet your financial obligations has been adversely affected and respectfully requested payment arrangements from them to help you, it’s also a very good idea to have someone in your life with whom you can talk. It could literally be life-saving. Keep in mind that the economic stress that you may face is NOT an indictment of you or your abilities as much as it is an indictment of an economic landscape that has destabilized for millions of American workers around the country, rivaling the economic collapse during the Great Depression. And, no group is immune from its clutches, whether its people born prior to World War II, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers or Millennials.

Good sources of social support can include: (1) your spouse; (2) your partner; (3) a family member or friend that you can trust; (4) a person from the faith community; or (5) a social support group. The key is to talk to someone who can provide support that is compassionate yet objective, to help you manage the economic stress more effectively by focusing on you, not her/him, giving you their undivided attention. The social support that you receive should also help to raise your spirits, not increase your anxiety. So, it’s very important to choose the source of your social support wisely. But, you must be willing to come out of your comfort zone and ask for help. YOU CAN DO IT!

I hope that everyone who reads this post allows the last two paragraphs to fully marinate in their consciousness, especially men, who have a tendency to internalize and not communicate their feelings when their ability to “provide and protect” has been compromised.

And, just remember, there is no shame in asking for help. The shame lies in saying nothing.

Dr. Rob

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