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Worrying About Losing a Job is Worse Than Losing a Job

Honestly, I didn’t make that title up. I’m paraphrasing a recent news headline and just continuing the thread from my previous blog. The theme of which is the following: Suffering is an avoidable part of life. There are many forms of suffering. Some we can label as true suffering (e.g., loss of a loved one), and some we can label as self-created suffering (e.g., we worry about things that don’t come to pass). There’s not a lot what can do about Form #1 but much we can do about Form #2.

My contention is that, in most Western societies, we experience Form #2 of suffering, at least in day-to-day terms, than Form #1. If this is true, then there is much we can do to reduce our aggregate suffering in life.

In my previous post, I mentioned how we suffer quite a bit for things that don’t even end up happening. Even if most of these dreaded situations do come to pass, we can adept to most of them quite well. Social psychologists call this hedonic adaptation. To me, it is one of the greatest ironies that the worrying about “bad” things happening can cause us more harm than if those bad events actually did occur.

Coincidentally, right after my previous post, I read a summary of an article that appeared in the Journal Social Science and Medicine. Two recently published studies found that people who chronically worried about losing their jobs suffered from greater emotional and health effects than from people who actually lost their jobs.

Now, for most of us, losing our job is no tea party, especially in this economy. Certainly, there are many cases in which people suffer tremendously after losing their jobs, especially if their unemployment lasts a long period of time, and there are many people dependent upon that person’s income.

More often the case is that the person does not lose their job or, if they do lose their job, they find another one within a reasonable length of time. On the other hand, anxiety over the possibility of losing a job can be almost indefinite and quite chronic. A person could conceivable worry themselves sick for months or even years over losing a job. These insidious fears can follow them from job to job throughout an entire lifetime.

I’ve provided some logical, anecdotal, and research evidence to support what I’m saying. But reflect on your own life – does what I’m saying make sense? If you think so, stay with me for the next several posts. In my next post, I’ll go more into this concept of hedonic adaptation and ways that we can reduce our self-created suffering.

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