“Ask The LifeQuake Doctor” – Vision Magazine
June 2009 issue
Dear Dr. Toni:
I have an upper management job in a great company and am experiencing “survivor guilt”. So many of my friends have been laid off from their jobs. I get several calls a month or week asking for referrals for jobs or introductions to others — from friends, friends of friends, or former colleagues who may be desperately searching for work and are relying heavily on networking. But each person has only so much political capital to expend: When is ok to say no? How do you say no? When should you help? What kind of help is easy to provide, and what should you consider more carefully? How far should you go to help?
We are living in desperate times. According to the Bloomberg News last week, it is predicted that the third and fourth quarter of this year things could worsen. I believe that a positive function of a time like this is to bring us together. Americans reached out to help each other during the Great Depression and yet when we were in an economic boom during the 1950’s the black list became a guise for anti-semitism and prejudices of many kinds. People got scape-goated if they had an independent feeling about how the country was being run. I don’t think the focus at this juncture is to look at your political capital. The key is to use discernment as to whom to refer to whom.
Here are some tips:
1) Say no when you have history with the person asking for help as having put your reputation at risk in the past. ie., Poor work habits that led to them getting fired from a job you used your contacts for them to get.
2) Say no when they are asking you to refer them for something you know they are not qualified to apply for. Once again, using your resources judiciously.
3) Say no when, what they are asking for help on, will be in direct competition with a request you need to make of your contact in assisting you in your own career transition.
4) Say no if whom they want you to connect them with is not someone you have a close enough relationship with to justify making a recommendation and have it hold any weight. In other words, don’t pretend to know people intimately that you don’t really know and set up disappointment for someone desperate for work.
When it feels right to say no, do it directly, but with compassion.
If someone is calling you and are in desperate straights and have a family to support, and they are well qualified, do whatever you can to help them. Connecting people with each other always serves in the long run. If you put good karma out into the world, it will always come back to support you at a different time. In my book, The LifeQuake Phenomenon I write a whole chapter on the benefits psychologically, physically, and financially of acting altruistically as a matter of course. We are being called in these times to expand our resources to help one another, not to contract and hold on tightly to what we have. Generosity is its own reward. The key question is not what is strategically best but what does your gut wisdom tell you about whom to connect to whom.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I lost my job a few months ago and am going through what feels like a major transformation. Now that my old career identity is over, I notice that I don’t feel connected to my old friends. I also can’t afford the same social expenses they can. I am afraid to let go of these relationships because they are the only friends I have right now. How do I handle saying good-bye to people I don’t feel connected to anymore?
Dazed and Confused in Los Angeles
Dear D and C:
First of all, congratulations! I am not saying this cavalierly. It is important to mark this event with a celebration so you don’t spin out into fear. As your old identity is falling away, your old life is going to feel alien. There is new life forming, it’s just still underground in your psyche. That feeling of being in the desert is a powerful transition into fuller self expression and it takes courage to be naked and alone, so to speak. However, we are never left with a void for very long once we make authentic choices. Begin to explore going to social functions that are free of charge or have a nominal fee. Peruse the Los Angeles Times or Whole Life Times for events. Volunteer part time while you are job searching. People who volunteer their time may be the like-minded individuals you are seeking.
Be patient. I call this time in my book, “The Cosmic Barbecue”. Your ego may experience some discomfort when you are in between lives. It may be that you are being called to be in more internal exploration that you didn’t have time for while working in a career. I have lots of free articles on my blog that can also support a time a transition: http://www.LifeQuake.net/blog
Spend time in quiet every day and ask your inner wisdom to show you what your next step is. Once your career re-crystallizes, this time for befriending yourself you may never have the luxury for again.
Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist, public speaker, and the author of her new book: The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval. Dr. Galardi is forming an eight week group this summer for those wanting to get unstuck from old habits. For those seeking private consultation, she can be reached at 310.712.2600. To submit questions for “Ask the LifeQuake™ Doctor”, contact Dr. Toni Galardi through DrToni@LifeQuake.net (no period after the Dr).