Feeling guilty about being unemployed

Although your redundancy obviously wasn’t your fault, it is common to feel guilty. For people who are used to working hard for their money, there can be guilt at taking money from the benefits system, not being able to support your loved ones and about staying home all day when others are out working.

If you are feeling guilty, think for a moment about what your opinion would be if a close colleague had been made redundant, and not you. Would you be judging him or her for signing on? Or for being at home? Almost certainly, you wouldn’t. So, throw away any feelings you have about not pulling your weight, and throw all your energy and resourcefulness into your job search.

Family matters

More difficult to overcome is guilt you may feel about not being able to support your family or provide the usual level of treats and holidays. It is easy to bottle this up, putting on a brave and cheerful face so as not to upset the rest of the family. Guess what? They are very often doing exactly the same to keep your spirits up. Behind the façade, they may want very much to be able to help, but not know how. And your cheery front may not be giving them any opportunity to do so. Long term, cracks will begin to show, and things can easily go wrong.

Take control before that happens by sitting down with your partner or organising a family conference to discuss what’s happening. Be scrupulously honest, especially with your partner (who has a right to know how deep you both are in it) and even – within reasonable bounds – with children. Nobody benefits if you pretend it’s not happening and let everyone slide into debt.

Let everyone understand what’s happened, what the plan is, and why you all need to save money. Let Resist the temptation to preside and take overall responsibility during the meeting (even if the bottom line is that you are responsible). Let everyone make suggestions about how they can contribute, by making savings or bringing extra money in. This way, they begin to share ownership of the problem with you.

Don’t dismiss any ideas out of hand. Although it may feel like a kick in the gut when your child offers you their paper round money, accepting just some of it – even as a loan – may well help the child themselves feel better about things. It lets them feel as though they are contributing to the family effort, and gaining a little bit of control over a situation that may otherwise feel very out of control and scary to them.

When you invite this kind of participation, you will often find that Dunkirk Spirit kicks in, and working as a team is a whole lot easier than taking the whole burden on yourself.