Fake it till you make it. That’s what you’re supposed to do after a loss. But does it really get you where you want to be? After losing her job of 20 years, Angela Holton found a position quickly, but she needed new ways to cope with negative energy and become the joyful, free-spirited Angela she wanted to be. Here’s how she did it.
When I touched base with Angela Holton a year after her layoff (see Getting Closer to Fine After a Job Loss: Four Wise Moves), she was eager to share an update. So much had changed! Angela had settled into her new house, become a Big Sister and recently returned from a service trip in Mexico. She’d also received a “Positive Influencer” award at work.
Looking back at the year after her layoff, Angela recalled feeling agoraphobic and depressed at times, something she didn’t admit during our initial interviews. Yet, another year later, she’d become wiser and more confident, so much so that she inspired friends and co-workers with her upbeat spirit. Here’s how she did it—and you can, too.
1. Reclaim your power.
“Whether you’re talking about job loss or a literal or metaphorical death of any kind, including aspects of yourself, it’s good to release the idea that something outside of you decided you needed to be punished,” Angela says. “There’s no lot in life we’re stuck with. There’s no past transgression being balanced out. We’re in charge. We get to choose! Sometimes that reality makes things harder, because it’s a lot easier and more palatable to point the finger outside of us.”
Angela now sees how loss helped her realize who she really is. “I had no idea who I was because I’d given my power to things outside of myself,” she says. “I’m in the process of reclaiming that power right now.”
“There’s no lot in life we’re stuck with. We’re in charge. We get to choose!”
2. Observe your emotions.
Angela spends a lot of time “developing her relationship with herself,” a process that began immediately after her layoff. Over time, she’s learned to focus on her emotions instead of trying to bury them. “What you feel is often sacrificed to please other people around you—your boss, your partner, society,” Angela says. “We’re taught that emotions are bad, and we beat ourselves up because of them.”
We shouldn’t, because feelings are here to help us. They let us know where we are and what we need to change, Angela explains. “When you feel something, stop and observe it. Think about what’s causing the feeling, and whether or not you want to redirect it.”
“Whatever you’re feeling—depression, joy, even boredom—tells you where you are. Once you know that, you can consider: How can I move up from where I am right now? Even just a click or two?”
This type of thinking can help you develop a stronger relationship with yourself, and more empathy for others. “If we’d all just work on our relationships with ourselves, our relationships with other people would work out just fine,” Angela says.
“If we’d all just work on our relationships with ourselves, our relationships with other people would work out just fine.”
3. Don’t work too much.
On the day we talked, Angela had just seen a post by Elon Musk, who said you could only change the world by working 100 hours a week.
Angela does not concur. “People can’t keep working at the pace they’re working and expect to get different results,” she says. “If you’re working 100 hours a week, you probably have to take drugs to stay awake.”
“Becoming a slave to doing actually separates you from yourself,” Angela says. “To become aligned with yourself requires stillness. And when you’re aligned with yourself, you can tap in to all your energy and creativity.”
4. Leave the past behind.
Many people believe in daily journaling, especially when they’re going through change and loss, but that kind of self-reflection isn’t for everyone. Ditto therapy. “I’ve been in talk therapy, but it never really worked for me,” Angela says. “Now I understand why. For example, if I had an unhappy experience with a family member, why would I want to look back and reactivate that? From a biological standpoint, the chemistry soup that’s released in my body from having that thought—it’s happening right now! Why would I want to live through that again?”
What’s the alternative? “Go hold your cat. Put on your sneakers and go for a walk.”
This approach may not work for everyone, but it’s the right choice for Angela.
“Becoming a slave to doing separates you from yourself.”
5. Create positive energy.
Focusing on and generating positive energy have improved Angela’s work life tremendously. Yet it hasn’t been an easy road. When she started her new job, Angela struggled with a demanding boss who had a negative outlook. To cope with the situation, she started to play a game with herself: “I’d think about something I wanted to do, then pick a date and put it on the calendar so I’d have something to look forward to. I’d do anything I could think of to generate a feeling of excitement and happiness.” Playing this game led to good things for Angela.
As it turned out, the overbearing boss left the company along with a group of other negative people. “Now this place is filled with fun and laughter and camaraderie,” says Angela, who often receives compliments from colleagues about her ability to influence positive change.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be an uplifter and influencer,” Angela says. “I just didn’t quite know what that meant.” Receiving companywide recognition made it clear she was on the right track.
“It’s not always easy to feel good. It’s something you choose every moment.”
How does she do it? “It’s not always easy to feel good,” Angela admits. “It’s something you choose every moment. It’s literally brain training.”
The practice of stillness, the feeling of appreciation, the creation of positive thoughts and energy are all part of “training your brain,” Angela says. So is using your imagination. Meditation can help you tap into those powers. “Meditation calms your mind. It releases good chemicals. It connects you to the energy all around you, which is the true source of creativity, and a way to receive inspiration.”
Angela believes that “if praying is the way to talk to God, meditating is the way to listen.” She makes time to listen. And, through listening, she understands her own worth. She harnesses her power every day.
Inspirational reading recommendations from Angela Holton
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza
Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Dr. Joe Dispenza