Being laid off hurts. It can feel like a slap in the face. It seems like an attack against you and a rejection of all you've contributed to the company. Yesterday you were safe and secure. The future was promising. Today you're out. You are on your own, no safety, no security; you don't feel like you belong anymore. Your future is scary.

You might think, "I can't believe this is happening to me. I thought my job was important. Why is this happening to me? I feel helpless and abandoned."

You are a victim of the times. Businesses are streamlining operations and consolidating jobs. Layoffs are part of that process. And, you are not alone. Every year, more than 2.5 million people lose their jobs.

It is okay to feel hurt, embarrassed and in a state of shock. In this state of shock, you might start to blame yourself--"What did I do wrong? Did the company find someone who can do a better job?" You might get depressed. You need to know this is a normal emotional reaction--your mind is setting the stage to help you accept your loss.

After losing a job, you may experience the four emotional states of loss below:
Stage One: Shock. A disbelief that you were laid off.
Stage Two: Anger: A feeling that you were betrayed.
Stage Three: Grief: A sadness over the loss of friends and coworkers; a loss of the familiar.
Stage Four: Acceptance: Finally, a willingness to get on with your life.

What should you do?
Go home. Talk to your family. Get your job loss out in the open. Tell your family what happened and how you feel. Ask for support so you won't feel so alone.

Do you have a right to be angry?
Yes. Anger is a natural emotion. Once the shock of losing your job wears off, it is normal to feel anger. But, you do have to control it. In your anger, you may fantasize about punching your employer in the nose, or you might feel a need to bad-mouth the company to everyone you meet. Fantasizing is one thing, following through with a threat is another. Keep in mind that you will need your former employer for future job references. Your managers won't reward you with good references if you talk about them in a negative way. Don't ever burn bridges behind you. Try to look at this layoff as an opening for new possibilities and view this situation as a learning experience. Use this time to research and enhance your career development plans.

What can you do with all this pent up anger?
Find a sounding board. Sounding boards are people who will listen and understand your complaints. Don't take up too much time of your spouse, parents, or kids as a sounding board--they may get sick of listening to you after a while--and may be too quick to offer the wrong advice and ask, "How come you haven't found a job yet?"--which will make you feel worse. What you need is someone who will just listen and sympathize. Find yourself a career coach or a good friend who will commit to supporting you through this difficult time. And, get rid of the toxic people in your life who are negative about your job prospects.

How long will you feel like this:
For those who are emotionally wounded by the layoff, it could take several months to heal and get over the hurt and depression. Be gentle with yourself and let nature take its course. Take time to heal. Keep busy. Find a project, clean the house, sign up for a course to enhance your skills, start a new hobby, try some new physical ctivities, or volunteer for a cause.

Tips about Career Preparation
1. Even though unpredictable times can be scary, they can also present significant career opportunities.
2. The instinct to find another job that's identical to your old position--can be a recipe for long-term career dissatisfaction.
3. It is important to take the time to identify your needs and values, and establish career alternatives. This helps clarify your goals.
4. Do not rush out and blindly attempt to track down just any old job. You must prepare. Research material and books on the job search process.
5. Taking a part-time job that's just plain fun lends some order to the day, keeps money coming in, and leaves you some energy at the end of your shift to focus on career issues.
6. What may seem like a bad time in one industry can mean a windfall in another, which could mean new job openings and career opportuities to explore. Most of your skills are transferable to another career.
7. The resources likely to benefit you are: temporary services, recruiters, professional associations, networking and continuing education courses.
8. Temporary services, in particular, may offer notable opportunities in the field you are exploring; one third of all who are employed in this way are reported to receive full time job offers.
9. Classified advertisements and surfing the Web are likely to leave you leadless and disappointed.
10. Most of your 'trial job search' time and energy should go into direct contact and networking activities.
11. Your skills need constant revision. New skills should be upgraded often to meet the needs of a changing economy and environment.
12. Make your own thoughtful decisions when it comes to an advanced degree, and not be taken in by the rhetoric of a specific educational institution.
13. The best maxim is to follow in organizations of any size is: "Find a need and fill it."
14. Don't send resumes to just anyone. make strategic, targeted, quality mailings.
15. Create a one-minute career script on yourself).
16. Imagine the interview as a collaborative process between equals. (It's sort of like a first date).
17. Be prepared to discuss your accomplishments and remember to concentrate on the bottom line results.
18. When in doubt, focus on your daily campaign plan and have backup networking strategies.
19. Always consider how much you will Learn as well as Earn before accepting a job offer.
20. Never give up. Persistence pays--along with a positive attitude.

Author's Bio: 

Marge Powers is the founder of Winning Ways a career management firm. Marge majored in Organizational Behavior at the University of San Francisco. She is a Master Certified Practitioner in Neuro-Linguestics from the NLP Institute of California. She is certified in Co-Active Life Coaching and Career Coaching from John F. Kennedy University. She has been successful in managing hundreds of careers for professionals at all levels.
Marge encourages people to examine their beliefs regarding personal goals and ambitions to discover their personal passion. She empowers them to recognize their freedom to 'choose'--to win in their lives. Her mission: commit to her clients' self discovery and growth as effective professionals. She has written many job search and career discovery materials.