How to Learn to Receive When Unemployed

Being out of work and on the unemployment line can bring up all sorts of negative feelings. Suddenly having to receive the help of others and perhaps even receive unemployment benefits might make you feel needy, incompetent or weak – but rest assured that you’re not the first to experience those emotions when put in this situation. It might not be easy, but here are some things to keep in mind, which can make it easier to receive during this time of crisis.

See also: How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in the United States

1. Remember that you're contributing when you work

The unemployment benefits you’re receiving might feel like a handout – but, in reality, you earned that money. When you pay taxes on your earned income, you’re adding funds to the unemployment kitty that gets accessed by people who find themselves unemployed. That’s what the system is for, so there’s no reason to feel bad about tapping in when you need it.

2. Know it's not forever

Life is all about give and take, and this is just a time in your life when you’re on the receiving end. At some point, you’re going to be employed once again. When that happens, you’ll once again be a person who can help out others – so don’t forget that fact when times are flush once again. When you do get a job again, don’t forget to look for ways to help others.

3. Consider a barter system

If there are people in your life who are helping you out with money, housing, transportation or other support while you’re unemployed, there’s more than one way to repay them. Instead of feeling guilty about how much you’re receiving, use that mental energy to consider how you can contribute. You might not have money, but perhaps you have skills in yard work, dog walking, sewing, cooking or fixing things, which you can offer in exchange for the help you’re receiving.

4. You're giving a gift to the giver

For some people, the act of helping you is a pleasure in itself. Studies show that people actually derive more pleasure from giving something away than from winning something themselves. With that in mind, don’t immediately turn to those feelings of guilt or incompetence. Some people won’t be thinking of helping you as "bailing you out," but instead will be doing it out of a genuine desire to make your life easier. And isn’t it great to have people in your life that care about you that much?

5. It's OK to turn down help sometimes

Then again, sometimes the reason you’re having trouble receiving help is that the person who’s giving it has too many strings attached. If receiving that help comes with unreasonable demands on your time, guilt trips or other negative effects, don’t think you have to continue that relationship. Some people give to others for the wrong reasons, and sticking with them is only going to cause you heartache and exhaust energy you could be using for more productive ends.

See also: How to Cope With Expiring Unemployment Benefits

By following these steps and giving yourself the time to experience and work through your complex emotions, you might find that surviving unemployment and receiving the help involved is far easier.