How does confidence look on me?... 
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Turn doubt into confidence when job searching

After being laid off, or during an extended period of unemployment it is normal for self-doubt to start to creep in. It can feel like all the circumstances are against you, to question why is this happening to you, and compare yourself to others who weren’t let go from the company, or wonder what the other applicants had that you didn’t. Do you notice how personal that feels? I’m here to tell you that you can turn the perspective – change the lens through which you look at your situation and focus on positive experiences that you can control.

In a Laid Off Calgary group meeting recently we explored the topic of self-doubt and how to cultivate more confidence in the face of what feels like constant rejection. We started with doubt (because it seems to be fairly prevalent for the group) and explored how this shows up for us in terms of behaviours, feelings and thoughts. Then we looked at the flip side – if we are fully confident in ourselves and our actions towards our job search, how do we demonstrate confidence, what might our thoughts be, how would we feel, how might we look to a potential employer? Curiously...we also noticed that when we embody confidence that our thinking became more expanded and what appeared to be mountains have in fact opportunities in the shadows and cracks. 
Hearing the group members describe self-doubt I felt a lot of empathy: "I'm not good enough", "I'm questioning my whole life", "I've been isolating myself", and "I'm losing myself with all this advice, I keep changing my resume and my career path search to suit all the 'advice' and now I've no idea where to turn to next!".

As a facilitator I noticed the distorted thinking patterns common to many of us. Cognitive distortions are sneaky ways that our mind convinces us of a negative thought, something out of proportion that isn't really true. These inaccurate thoughts usually reinforce negative feelings or emotions and typically it's a spiral from there we start to act in self-defeating ways....catastrophizing, "I will never find work again!", overgeneralization, "Someone younger got the job. No EPC will ever hire me because of my age ", blaming and personalizing, "I wasn't looking my best at the interview, no wonder they didn't call me back". Do you notice how this feels when you read it (or attempt to believe it?). Any one would start to doubt themselves with these kinds of repetitive, unhelpful thoughts. 

When we explored the topic of confidence I noticed the common theme of taking positive action, even if you don't 'feel' like it. There is advice and evidence out there that supports the philosophy of "fake it til you make it". Check out Amy Cuddy's body language ted talk, or this recent podcast with Mel Robbins on the 5 second rule that can transform your life. It also helps to get realistic and challenge your thinking - we recommend an approach of using a CBT thought record to bring a greater awareness and choice over thinking of different scenarios (you can train your brain to stop ruminating) and ultimately this is the power of group as well - by talking and listening to others in similar situations you not only have potentially a real life mirror of your own inner world but support and encouragement for living your best life (and a more enjoyable job transition period).   

Notice what comes up for you as you read through this list, how would you like to feel? What would you like to add or change this list to make it applicable for you?

  • Know yourself! -    Strengths and achievements inventory
  • Question the evidence for a negative thought, is it true?
  • Use a CBT thought record to identify more helpful thoughts
  • Positive affirmations - use post-its and visual reminders around the house, for example, “I am successful”, “I will find meaningful work”
  • Empower yourself to have boundaries around negative/toxic situations 
  • Explore other aspects of life – what else brings joy and meaning? 
  • Confident body language
  • Choose physical activities that boost confidence - what are you good at? headstand? knitting? painting? braving Calgary winters?
  • Watch/read positive material
  • What else brings you confidence?

As a group we identified primarily that confidence is a quality that you can promote and provoke but ultimately it is about knowing who you are, trusting in yourself and believing that you have some influence over the outcome of your life. You can't change what employers or industry does on the macro level but you can influence how you act and react. You can challenge your thinking and ultimately create a more positive outlook. Most importantly, you don't have to do it alone. As mentioned above, group meetings or discussion with a friend, your hairdresser, a trusted family member, a counsellor, or call the Calgary Distress Centre anytime (truly, anytime about anything!), are all helpful ways to get perspective, ask for feedback and above all take action every day to build confidence.

In case you haven't seen this yet there are various publications you can get for free in print or online as PDF through Alberta Government - career planning, transition, job search techniques and workshops, training and more. Visit for more info or you can dial 2-1-1 to talk to a trained information specialist in Calgary who can point you to community based resources. 

You can also visit the Laid Off Calgary website and check out the resources page for more options as identified from various group members and volunteers!

Recent quotes from participants:

"Laid off Calgary and the support it provides is truly helpful and helps change your mindset and gain confidence when you feel many doors have closed. Highly recommend it!"

"I'm excited to let you know that I accepted an offer yesterday for an amazing role as --------- Director for -----------. I just wanted to thank you and let you know how helpful and useful I found the group and I am thankful to have met you, Jacqueline and every other person I met over the several weeks that I attended the meetings. I wish you continued success ... you're doing a very noble thing with those sessions, and though I can only speak for myself, I am thankful that I found you and your group to help me through my unemployment ... the support, advice and encouragement that I received really helped me stay focused and positive throughout a very stressful and scary time."
Laid Off Calgary goes to the bank! Note: this will be a small group meeting (not in the giant open area) so we can have some more confidential/safer discussions. Register on eventbrite

Next meetings: 

Newcomers and past participants are welcome in all meetings. Please register for each meeting you wish to attend. You may find more value in consistently attending a regular meeting time each week to be able to get to know and network with others and build upon themes from each meeting. 

Meetings are held at different locations depending on the date & time. Find us on Eventbrite (search for Laid Off Calgary) to find a meeting and register! 

Add yourself to the waitlist if you see the registration is full for the week. There are often last minute changes.
Tuesday afternoon support group - SW Calgary
Recurring Tuesday's 1.30-3.00pm
Themes change weekly.
With Bianca Sinclair & guest co-facilitators (varies!)
Please register for future Tuesday afternoons 
Upcoming themes:

  • How to embrace change and transition
  • Volunteering as a network multiplier
  • Successful networking
  • Financial Literacy
  • Confident Body language... and more...

Thursday afternoon support group - NW Calgary
Thursday's 12.30-2.00pm With Bianca Sinclair & Jacqueline Moore
Register here for Thursday afternoons 
Note: special free linkedin/professional headshot photo opportunity this Thursday 9th March 2pm-3pm at Crowfoot Library - please register to attend the meeting to let us know you are coming as space is limited. 

For Laid Off Calgary meetings (connection, peer support, resources and sharing) please visit

In case you missed this...
Do you have feedback, suggestions, comments, ideas?
Would you like to facilitate or co-facilitate a group?
This is a PEER support group - input and ideas are very welcome! 
Please send an email to Bianca
with queries, suggestions, concerns, ideas, comments... thanks :)
Copyright © 2016-2017 Laid Off Calgary All rights reserved.
Empowered Community Support Groups
Bianca Sinclair - T3H 5R2

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Laid Off Calgary · Calgary · Calgary, Ab T3H 0A1 · Canada

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