Recession giving people a lot more to worry about

Managing the Worry CircleThrough no fault of their own, the recession is giving people more reasons to worry.

Along with the constant worries of death and taxes, the recession is adding worry lines over keeping a job, finding a job, paying bills, affording necessities such as food and shelter, and other basic needs in the first two stages of Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs."
If you can't get food on the table or feel safe, you're likely to have a lot of sleepless nights ahead.

What's important to realize during the recession is that losing a job is often thrust upon people through no fault of their own, said Ocean Palmer, author of the new bookManaging the Worry Circle.

"It had nothing to do with them," Palmer told me in a telephone interview. "It was just handed to them."

The recession has forced millions of people to change their lives, and not worrying about things they can't control and focusing on what they can control is important, Palmer said.

"We're going to worry our whole lives about stuff," he said. "But stuff comes and goes."

Like the main character in Woody Allen's movieWhatever Works, or many of Allen's other dark movies, worrying about life is a common human trait that's inescapable. Whatever character Boris Yelnikoff is so distraught that he tries to kill himself.

The recession may have led to more suicides, according to a Newsweek story. But hopefully it doesn't create that much worry in most people.

The problems of the recession may have been handed to people unwillingly, but they still have control over how they deal with it, Palmer said.

"Just because somebody has access to your mind doesn't mean they have to be there," he said.

And while every manager says "It's not personal" when they lay someone off, it feels like a personal failure to get laid off. It feels like a trap door just opened.

That's part of Palmer's point in his book: Don't waste time worrying about something that wasn't your fault and that you can't control. Being laid off is a result of the recession, and many qualified workers across the country are having difficulty finding new jobs.

A colleague recently asked me how a job interview went. I haven't heard a thing, I responded. When I was first laid off I used to worry for weeks if I hadn't heard back from an employer I interviewed with. Did I do something wrong? Now I just continue with my part-time work and let those thoughts roll off my back. Their hiring decision is out of my control, even if I'm called back for a second interview.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be reached at
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