Maintaining your morale and coping with rejection


When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so
regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us

Alexander Graham Bell

Being unemployed for more than a couple of months may sap your morale:
it's natural to lose your confidence and feel down.


What can you do?

Lack of money. Budget carefully: write down exactly what you are spending and cut out anything which appears wasteful. Try to get any job in the short term: even shelf filling in a supermarket is a start and will bring in some cash.

Living with parents again and consequent loss of freedom. A tough one this, but almost certainly an assertive approach is best. Getting angry will help neither party, but a sensible negotiation of your rights and responsibilities may help to make life easier.

Isolation from college friends. You need to develop a support network of positive individuals you can talk things over with. Voluntary work, part-time courses and spending time on your interests are all good ways of meeting new people (see below).

Lack of control

If you are unemployed for long, you lose the feeling of control of your life that a job and a regular income give you. Your days lack structure, you may feel helpless to change your circumstances and you lose that status that comes with having a job. People who lose their ability to control things are more likely to become unhappy and perhaps depressed. The strategies given below will help you to regain control over your life and help you to feel happier and more confident. For more about the importance of being in control (also called autonomy) see our page on Happiness at Work

Strategies to cope with unemployment


Lack of status. Your time is no longer structured:


One third of UK office staff have taken a nap at work due to lack of energy, according to a survey by Lucozade Revive. 22% have napped for between ten to 60 minutes with Wednesday the most common day to nod off. 10% had fallen asleep in a meeting room or office bathroom and 18% had fallen asleep at their desks. 91% of staff in accountancy and financial services said they have an afternoon nap. A separate study by Champneys found that more than half British people felt continuously tired.

John Rosekind of NASA found that a 26 minute nap during the day improved pilots performance by 34%, also one night’s loss of sleep in soldiers resulted in a 30% loss in cognitive skill.

When people are sleep deprived, their ability to utilise the food they consume falls by a third. A 30 year old allowed only 4 hours sleep per night for 6 days exhibits the body chemistry of a 60 year old.

Professor Derk-Jan Dijk says we need to look at sleep in the same way as exercise. "We should look at sleep as an active process. Getting enough sleep is a positive thing which will help you perform in all aspects of life." Sleep loss diminishes attention, executive function, memory, mathematical ability, mood, logical reasoning and manual dexterity. Sleep allows us to consolidate the previous day's learning: lack of sleep disrupts our ability to learn. See Brain Rules by John Medina.


Coping with change

When we are faced with a major change in our life which is outside our control (such as unemployment or under-employment after university), most people starting with negative feelings and then go through a number of stages:

  1. Anger. When change happens that we can't control we are often initially angry and feel a sense of injustice.
  2. Denial. Next we may enter a stage of denial. We stick our heads in the sand and ignore the problem, hoping it will go away.
  3. Reluctant experimentation. When we finally accept that the situation is here to stay, we explore new approaches, try to do things differently, find better ways of dong things.
  4. Acceptance. Finally we feel more in control and ready to embrace the change
We maintain the same levels of happiness thoughout our life. A traumatic experience willl depress our levels for a short period and then they will bounce back to their long-term set point.

Professor Mansel Aylward


When things are certain and predictable life tends to be easy. But the world we live in isn't static. We're constantly challenged by uncertainty and the new. You need to be specific, to pinpoint the aspects of the change that is causing negative feelings. Allowing anger or depression to dominate can make you incapable of action, so don't lose sense of perspective

Developing a plan of action will help you to feel back in control. Try to map out several paths to your goal, then if one becomes blocked another is available: build flexibility into your planning.

What we think we become

Your mind is a garden.
Your thoughts are seeds
You can grow flowers
Or you can grow weeds!

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Lao Tse

Cognitive Therapy

If any of the following habits seem to apply to you then try to stop them.


BBC article on the benefits of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

University of Kent Counselling “self-help” pages

Research at the University of California and Duke University found that practicing positive activities lasting improvements in mood and well-being, were found for six months. A review of brain imaging studies suggested that practising positive activities may boost dampened reward/pleasure circuit mechanisms and reverse apathy.

Effective positive activities included


Most libraries will have books on cognitive therapy if you wish to find out more.

  • The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. Vidal Sassoon
  • The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs … one step at a time. Joe Girard
  • Whenever I find the key to success, someone changes the lock.
  • You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying too much about the future.
  • If you fill your mind with the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, you will have no today to be thankful for.
  • If your happiness mainly depends on the actions of others you may have little control over your life.
  • The wind does not blow to make trees dance, but to test their roots
  • The best way to cheer yourself is to cheer somebody else up. Mark Twain
  • Adversity never breaks a good man, it fines him down like gold so he rises up a better man. You should never be afraid of adversity, it's what you do about it that counts. I've had my share. I've had to climb the mountain again. Geoff Boycott
  • If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito.
  • Others will appraise you at the level of your own self image: they will tend to agree with you about yourself.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.

Zig Ziglar quotes

  • The real test in golf and in life is not in keeping out of the rough, but in getting out after you are in!
  • Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.
  • Remember that failure is an event, not a person.
  • If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost.
  • Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.
  • See our Determination page for more about this



Also see our pages on Happiness at Work and Striving for Excellence