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How would you react to a sudden job loss?

What if you went to work next Friday and your boss called you into his or her office and told you it was your last day on the job? What would you do? How would you react?

Keep in mind that you may have had this job for years or even decades. You are a good worker. You never saw any signs that you were going to get fired. No one warned you. It happened suddenly and for reasons beyond your control.

Potential reasons

For example, your company may be downsizing. The profits just could not support the entire staff. They decided to consolidate your job with another worker's position, and they did not need to keep both of you.

Or, perhaps the company is completely shutting down. Maybe your boss did not fire you, but just told you that they were going out of business and this was the end of the line for everyone. That may sting a little bit less, but it still means you are out of a job.

People often think that their jobs are stable, that they should last forever. In reality, everything can change in a heartbeat. How would you react?

Your identity

Experts note that workers react to job losses differently in part because of how their identities tie into their jobs. How important is your job to whom you are?

Perhaps your job really does not define you. It's just something you do to pay the bills while living your life. If so, you may feel disappointed that you're losing your source of income, and you may feel stressed financially. Still, you may only experience mild disappointment at the job loss itself and feel confident that you'll find another one.

However, maybe your job is central to your identity. It's might be your dream job. It's the first thing you tell people about yourself when you meet them. You're proud of your job title. You spend long hours at work and you really put everything you have into your profession. It's not just a job. It's who you are.

If so, experts warn that the loss can be crushing. You may feel tempted to lash out at others whom you blame for the loss, or you may internalize the process and feel depressed and blame yourself.

The realistic impact

No matter how you react psychologically, one thing is for certain — sudden job losses can drastically impact your life. Instantly, your monthly bills feel overwhelming instead of affordable. Your debt feels insurmountable. You regret racking up credit card debts or taking out a loan for that new car. Those expenses once appeared well within your means, but now you must reconsider everything.

During this stressful time, make sure you understand bankruptcy and all of the legal options you have.

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