Mental Toughness and Getting Laid off (part 2 – a repost)

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(In part one of this series on dealing with being unemployed and mental toughness training, I talked about how getting laid off can be one of life’s biggest challenges. When your family is depended on you and you suddenly have no cash flow, it can be a very stressful time in your life. I know for me when I was let go of my job a couple of years ago, I was devastated. Being fired wasn’t the hard part.  It was the constant frustration of looking, applying for work and getting no responses. I can’t tell you how mentally down I was. Unless you have tons of money stacked away in your saving account, getting whacked from your job will be one the most difficult things that you will have to deal with.)

If any of you that has been following this blog and have recently received a pink slip, you must not give up on your mental toughness pursuit. You must make it a double effort to maintain doing the WODs. Abandoning this training during your crises would be a huge mistake. You need this sort of training more than ever to help you deal with the upcoming stress of not finding a job,  the constant rejection and mental drain of watching your savings account quickly dwindle. Continuing with this physical training will help you handle the forthcoming hardship.

When one is unemployed and broke, it is easy to fall into a deep depression. Your self-worth will feel be shattered as the lack of responses from potential employer will wear you down mentally. A couple of years ago when I was axed from my shitty job, I was relieved at first. I hated my boss and couldn’t stand the stifling working environment that I was in. I thought I would easily get another teaching job with my experience, but it was during heavy cut backs and teaching jobs were extremely scarce. There were so many positions I knew I was right for, but during the first couple of months, I didn’t even get a single interview. I kept on applying for teaching positions, even the shit ones because I was really getting desperate and living off my credit cards. After about three months without any possible leads, I became distraught and was beyond frustrations. I would spend hours staring between the want ads in Craig’s List and my emails, just hoping for some sort of response. I’m not exaggerating either. Some days when my depression was so high, I would just sit in my chair and stare as the same crappy jobs that were available online all day long. I was so fixated at Craig’s List and other job placement  that I would go back and forth between these sites for hours without doing anything else in between.

I was driving myself mad with this neurotic behavior, but more than anything else I was just wasting time sitting in front of the computer doing nothing. If anything, I should have watch porn, but I didn’t even have the desire to that.

What would snap me out of this self-pity was that after spending up to 8 hours staring at the computer screen, I would finally get myself to go train. As bad as my life got, my training with mental toughness did not suffer. It only enhanced the intensity of the WODs. I took out my frustrations by going as hard as can to try to kill the WOD. As a result, I was able to have some of the most intense workouts and not once during this unemployment period of my life did I ever quit during a WOD. I made it a point to always go on no matter how much I was dying in the WOD and with my life. My life may have gone to shit during this time, but there was no way in hell, I was going let a WOD shoot me down as well. Fuck that.

By never caving in the brutality and pain from the WODs, my mind became stronger. The training cleared my head and cleansed my soul and allowed me to attack the rest of the day with the same aggression and relentlessness that was needed for me to save my life and relationship with Diane. After these bloody battles in the gym, I felt unstoppable no matter how much my life was falling apart. At times, this feeling of being invincible didn’t last very long, but it was enough to push me to go on. To never give up. To have the courage to keep looking for a job, no matter how bleak the situation got.

Day after day, week after week, I continue to fight on my hands and knees, crawling to finish each WOD as I brought this never say die attitude back to my computer screen where I continue to look for employment, regardless of the lack of opportunities. As much as I wanted to give up, not once did I ever stop looking. The lack of response from jobs that I knew I was perfect for still hurt, but I continued to be as aggressive as ever.

My actions in the training clearly reflected how I would act during my search for employment. I was relentless in the gym and was just as relentless when I got hime and hunted down future employment opportunities.

(To be continued)

Strength Day WOD –

5 sets of 5 reps


Push press

Front squats

Bent over rows

Hip thrust

Go into the WOD today knowing that improved strength will always elevate whatever mood you are feeling. If you are feeling low from your work, bad relationship or being unemployed like how I was, force yourself to go train. Tell yourself that a good training session will always turn a bad day to a great day. That’s the empowerment one can get after gaining physical strength. The worst thing you can do is to feel sorry for yourself. If you get in this bad habit of listening to your self-pity, you will fall into this trap of being a victim. Being a victim is the opposite of being mentally tough. It focuses on blame instead of accountability. When that happens, you end of doing nothing. When you get emotionally down, you can’t afford any time with doing nada. You already wasted enough time acting like a baby. Now is the time to regroup. Take the initiative and reassert yourself.

Since I can’t slap you in the face for your whining and complaining, you can do the next best thing. Work on getting stronger with your deadlifts. Set new PRs with your front squats. Go beyond what you normally do with the bent over row and pile on more weight than you ever have done. Break limitations with your strengths and you will learn to crush the negativity in your life.

You are holding yourself back. Not your parents, boss, girlfriend, husband or crummy past. Stop making excuses. Go the gym, lift something heavy and then work on improving your current situation.

Be aggressive in the gym. Be aggressive with your personal life.

That’s the goal for today.

Scaled back version of this WOD –

  1. Do three sets of three reps.
  2. Omit the hip thrust.

Acceptable alternatives –

  1. You can use a barbell or dumbbells for the push presses.