Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

Cultivating an Anti-Victim Mentality in Times of Adversity

Anxiety and fear experienced after a layoff or during a period of unemployment can lead to a couple of different outcomes when it comes to finding work. Negative emotional states serve a purpose as they compel people to take action in order to alleviate themselves of discomfort. Some are successful in achieving their goal of landing another job. For others however, that very anxiety sabotages efforts to do so. 

In contrast, those who are naturally less anxious exhibit stoicism in the face of a layoff or unemployment period. Stoicism can lead to different outcomes as well. One outcome is that, since you don’t feel like anything is terribly wrong, you’re able to go on and enjoy your life during the “down” times. However, at some point, someone close to you will say, “Why aren’t you panicking and stressing out?! What’s wrong with you?!” and then you realize so much time flew by as you didn’t experience a lot of internal pressure to do anything about your circumstances. On the other hand, it is an advantage to come across as someone who is confident when you finally decide to do something about your circumstances.


Despair (Photo credit: fakelvis)

As I can identify more with those in the latter scenario, I find that it’s like “the blind leading the blind” when trying to motivate someone who tends to be calm. Typically, we look at each other and think, “I’m ok. You’re ok. We have plenty of time to address this and life is meant to be enjoyed so… back to the online game!” When it comes to those who look great on paper, who have been proactively trying do something about their circumstances, and who have been strategic in their search yet exude anxiety and fear, I find their obstacle more apparent. Having encountered so many cases, I’ve decided to post tips that may help give such individuals a kick-start to overcoming their obstacle.

First, think about the impact of being too eager to please.

“If you want to get someone to like you, don’t offer to fetch them a Coke, rub their feet, or do their homework. They won’t like you any better, and your servile attitude will only cost you their respect.” (Source:

Yes, that’s right. Although it’s good practice to avoid being rude, being “too nice” can work against you. Confidence is key and, although you may have experienced a losing streak after applying to so many jobs or perhaps have given up searching altogether, it’s possible to change your state of mind right now.

Secondly, recall a time in your life when you overcame significant odds and keep that in mind. This can come from any part of your life. As an example, one event that is seared into my mind took place when I was 11 years old playing in the neighborhood park with a female companion. A couple of older boys from the neighborhood biked down to where we were at and instructed us to get out of “their” park. Not one to back down, I looked around and noticed dried up dog feces littering the area around our feet so I picked up a leaf and scooped one of them up. My companion followed suit as one of the boys said, “Eeew you’re picking up dog poo!” We commenced pelting the boys with dog feces as they hopped back on their bikes and fled. Foolishly, they rode straight home and, having watched them, we drove our point home by following-up with a volley of raw eggs to the vehicles in their driveway.

Yes, I was a vicious little girl, but that’s not the point! Life events like this one carry me through rough times, reminding me that there is something I can do to impact my situation and that sometimes this takes a bit of creative thinking. This is a great source of empowerment. How about you? In what instances have you risen up and overcome life’s obstacles? Finally, check out these excellent pointers by J.T. O’Donell in 4 Toxic Words That Hurt the Unemployed.

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