Coping with Unemployment

Dr. Phil speaks with his guest, Paul, who has been unemployed for three years.

After working in a high-tech industry and living in the lap of luxury, Paul doesn't want to take a menial job to get by in the meantime.

He and his wife, Debbie, now live in a hotel room and are one step away from being homeless. Dr. Phil tells Paul, "Here is something that I know about people who are off work: The longer you are off work, the less likely you are to ever return to work."

Dr. Phil points out that life is about to get a lot harder because Paul's wife is about to leave him. "Do you not think that you need to take the best job you can get on the day you can get it? I mean, aren't you kind of at that point? You held out for something in your field. I get that for a period of time. But let me tell you, as someone who has been an entrepreneur all of my life, has hundreds of employees now, I can promise you, if I'm interviewing somebody and ask, "What are you doing?' and they say," Well, I was in IT, and it crashed, so what I've been doing since then is scrambling around, and working my butt off and doing what I can do every single day for the last two years, trying to get a break back into information technology,' I'm going to feel a lot better about that person than somebody who has a three-year gap in their résumé and hasn't done anything," he says.

Unemployment can wreak havoc on your self-esteem and pride, but there are ways to cope:
  • Face your feelings. Know that it's going to be tough. You may be overqualified for a lot of jobs. Don't give up.
  • Reach out for help. Call everyone you know and ask if they know of an opening somewhere. Use your networking skills.
  • Be worthy of support. Work hard at finding work. Don't let your spouse work and carry all the weight, while you sink into a depression and sleep until noon.
  • Take care of yourself. Now is not the time to let your health go.
  • Create a schedule. If you're going to work at a job that you think is a dead end, then schedule what you're going to do when you get off work and how you're going to look for that next step up.
  • Be flexible and adaptive. The difference between winners and losers is winners do what losers don't want to do. Be willing to do what you have to do in the moment. Even if you have to work part-time, or the only job you can get is working minimum wage, any money is better than no money. Dr. Phil explains, "I have worked at a carhop at A&W root beer stand on skates, and I couldn't skate. I worked as a waiter at a pizza place and got fired because I couldn't remember to write the drinks down on the ticket. I've done it all, and I'm not ashamed of it; I'm proud of it. It's character."

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