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The Effects of Unemployment on Self-Esteem

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Unemployment not only has a negative impact on an individual's finances, health and long-term career prospects, but also on his self-esteem. There are steps you can take to maintain a healthy self-image during times of unemployment. By maintaining a positive frame of mind, you will feel better about yourself and be more appealing to prospective employers.

Financial Stress

When you aren't earning a paycheck, it's easy to get down on yourself. That's why it's important to stay active and productive during times of unemployment to ward off feelings that you are not a contributing member of society. Men in particular have been socialized to correlate a positive sense of self with the ability to bring home an income. Even if your spouse can still cover the bills during your unemployment, many people will have low self-esteem if they feel they aren't productive in some way. One way to stay active and feel you are contributing is to volunteer at a local charity, church or nonprofit organization.


Losing a job can negatively impact relationships. Those you once thought were supportive might not be that way if you aren't earning any money. Some might even look down on you and secretly blame you for your situation. If you suffer from low self-esteem during unemployment, surround yourself with supportive friends and family members. Talk to counselors and attend support groups to find acceptance and guidance. Find ways of deflecting criticism from friends, family and society at large.

Keep A Schedule

Losing the structure provided by keeping regular work hours can lead to a sense of feeling aimless, which can negatively impact self-esteem. Pick a block of time each day to focus on your job search efforts. Make a commitment to looking over job listings and networking with professional contacts. Follow up on resumes you've already sent out, and send out new ones when you see the right job opportunities. If getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge, sign up for an exercise or yoga class so you'll have a reason to get up. Having structure in your day will lead to feelings of greater productivity and prevent a sense of disconnect from the rest of the world.

Stay Positive

It can be a challenge to maintain a positive sense of identity when faced with a major life challenge such as unemployment. According to psychologist Melanie Greenberg, having positive core self evaluation -- seeing yourself as competent and worthy despite experiencing setbacks -- is one of the strongest predictors of whether and how quickly an individual can find another job. Remind yourself every day that you are a good job candidate, and you have the skills and abilities to succeed in the workplace. Realize that you will find the right job and this period of unemployment is only a temporary setback.

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