Fired! How to Deal?
December 28, 2004 3:39 PM   Subscribe

About a year ago, I was unjustly fired. My employer was careful to do it in a way to avoid any legal disputes. How does one get over thoughts of revenge and confrontation. I've considered sending a letter to the person responsible, explaining exactly how I feel about it all. I was never given a proper explaination and the whole thing feels unresolved. I realize a letter is somewhat juvenile and unproductive but I feel this might help me cope. I really want to put this all behind me.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (20 answers total)
1- accept the fact that it happened. nothing you do will change that.
2 - accept that even though you might not be at fault, you have some responsibility in what happened. Focus on this, figure out what you did that led to this. Don't focus on whether it was your fault, only on what you did.
3 - forgive your boss.
4 - forgive yourself.
5 - move on.

Any retaliation, revenge or confrontation will only make things worse.
posted by signal at 3:42 PM on December 28, 2004

Write the letter anyway, don't address the envelope, put a stamp on it, and drop it in a mailbox that's not your own. Then it will go somewhere, but neither to you or to your former boss. Release the rage with the mailing of said dead letter, and take comfort in the knowledge that some guy in the dead letter office will eventually read your froth and probably be entertained for a few minutes.
posted by headspace at 3:47 PM on December 28, 2004

Become okay with yourself.

Pray. Forgive.

All this will seem insignificant.
posted by sled at 3:50 PM on December 28, 2004

About a year ago, I quit a job where my immediate manager essentially acted so horribly as to force me out. (The situation was bad enough that I qualified for unemployment benefits.) I was upset about it for a very long time, and even now I don't like thinking about it. It was unfair to me; he was clearly wrong, and I didn't do anything to deserve that treatment. But declaring war on my former workplace -- only a block away in a small town -- wouldn't have changed that; instead, it would have made it impossible for me to get on with things.

It's okay to be angry about an unfair situation. It's frustrating to feel that nothing can be done about it. But it's in the past, and it can't be changed. Chalk it up as another one of those fucking character-building experiences and move on. (Now that's hard to do, I know -- but in hindsight you'll feel the same way. In the meantime, don't do anything stupid to worsen your sanity or your reputation.)
posted by mcwetboy at 3:50 PM on December 28, 2004

I have found the writing-a-letter-and-not-sending-it option to be helpful in getting the feelings out of my system. In a job-related situation, I think the best cure would be to find a new job at a place where you really fit in and are appreciated (and that pays more, hopefully); it helps you realize what idiots the previous employers were to dump you.
posted by matildaben at 3:52 PM on December 28, 2004

Personally, I go with the snide letter, but then again I'm 16 so that actually counts as a point against that side.
posted by abcde at 3:52 PM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

I refer you to the question concerning the District Attorney of this town that almost hit me with his SUV. It contains a lot of good advice about dealing with anger and whether or not to confront someone.
posted by WestCoaster at 4:36 PM on December 28, 2004

abcde, you're showing signs of wisdom already! :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 6:55 PM on December 28, 2004

I agree with the suggestions to write but not send. But I would suggest documenting the experience using names, dates and details. At some point this employer will probably fire someone else unfairly-- imagine this is your deposition for a future court case. Perhaps it even will be, if the next ex-employee has better evidence, and your experience can help document the pattern of unfair employment practices. Write a direct statement to the employer, too, if you still feel the need to express personal feelings. But file it away, along with your documentation, until such future time as it may come in handy.
posted by obloquy at 7:09 PM on December 28, 2004

I've been in a very similar situation. Two things helped:

1. Keeping discreet tabs on my former employer, and later finding out she was going through a divorce when she forced me out. The idea being to figure out what could have been making your boss behave badly. There's usually a reason, and it can bring a satisfying combination of forgiveness, pity, and schadenfreude.

2. Finding a better job. If there is one thing that has slaked my thirst for revenge against all those who have done me wrong previously, it is living well. It seems like a silly cliche, but it is quite true. Sure, that guy may have dumped me, but now he has only blow-up women, and I am happily married.

Ah, works like a charm.
posted by frykitty at 7:20 PM on December 28, 2004

This sounds perhaps hopelessly pollyanna, but my all-purpose solution to rank injustice is to do something really, really good for someone else, without being asked or with expectations of thanks. It could be something like helping an elderly neighbor by shovelling sidewalks or doing yard work or running errands, but try to make something physical if possible. As you do it, say to yourself like a mantra, I'm doing this in (my ex-boss's) name.

Your neighbor benefits, and you can walk away feeling as though some good came of it. Every time the situation pops into your mind in a dark, stomach-churning way, find some good to do, until you have a permanent positive association to balance out the negative one.
posted by melissa may at 7:38 PM on December 28, 2004

Agreed on "the best revenge is living well" mantra.

I'd like to add what I call "The five year rule." Think forward five entire years--Late December 2009. All your credit cards will have expired and been replaced. You will probably live somewhere different. You probably won't have the job you have now. People you know will marry and have children. Others may die.

How important is the little stuff today going to be in five years? If you aren't going to concern yourself terribly then, then why now?

Anyway, it's gotten me through lots of BS.
posted by sdrawkcab at 8:20 PM on December 28, 2004

I really want to put this all behind me.

Stop thinking about it. Really. When it comes up, consciously note it, say to yourself something like, 'Well, I'm thinking about this again'. Usually, that will be enough to snap you out of the rut your mind has worn.

You are wasting what precious few moments left in your life over something you can not change. Consider this--if, say, someone called the movers and subsequently a piano on a rope hung over the sidewalk you walked upon and that rope broke, would you want your last moments spent wallowing in a fruitless obsession on some wrong someone did to you a year ago, saying this or that to them and all the while the birds are singing and the sunlight is on the leaves and there you are about to die, your mind filled with painful memories and childish daydreams of revenge, lost in your petty vindictive thoughts while the world was unfolding before you ?
posted by y2karl at 8:22 PM on December 28, 2004

Focus on the here-and-now. Move forward to a better job. Remember: to live well is the best revenge.
posted by SPrintF at 8:44 PM on December 28, 2004

Something like this happened to me not too long ago. I wrote the letter and sent it. They ignored it, which only added to my rage. I got over it (mostly) by being happier where I ended up: freelancing, making movies, sleeping in. But it still makes me crazy sometimes, like when I have to go past the old office or I see one of my former coworkers on the street.
posted by goatdog at 8:44 PM on December 28, 2004

Okay, here's what you do: First, go into a gun shop.....

Seriously, most of the advice here is great. Along with the "five year rule", also think about what you would want to accomplish by sending the letter. Do you want to get the person in trouble? Do you want to get your old job back? I bet neither of these is really what you're looking for. Do you want your old employer to get a guilty conscience and feel like shit? I doubt he will. I think writing the letter out is a good cathartic tool, but unless you really expect it to make a significant change to improve your situation, it probably should not be sent.
posted by Doohickie at 9:13 PM on December 28, 2004

I was in a similar situation, my boss was "laid off" with me on the same day. They supposedly didn't need us anymore. Really I think they just didn't want to pay unemployment. I was pretty ticked about it, and there were quite a few major things that I could have done, scot free, but really it's pointless. You'll feel exactly the same afterwards.
posted by jackofsaxons at 10:00 PM on December 28, 2004

Write the letter. Address the envelope to yourself and mail it. When it comes back to you, re-read it and decide whether you actually want to send it to its intended recipient, or whether you're done.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:20 AM on December 29, 2004

Write that letter - not to your boss, but to your boss's boss. Be as factual, reasoned, and calm as possible. He'll either hear about it or he won't. Do not send the letter until you've written it, waited a day, reread it, waited a day. Be sure you really want to send it.

There's a story about Abraham Lincoln writing a letter to the General who won the Gettysburg battle. He was going to ream him out for not following the Confederate army after the battle and destroying them. If the General had done this, years more of war and thousands of deaths could have been prevented. In the end, Lincoln did NOT send that letter.

He still needed that General.

If you are planning on using this job in any way to get jobs in the future, consider whether or not you really want to send that letter, in terms of what's best for you. However, if there's no selfish reason for you not to - send it. Let your boss's boss know what a jerk this guy is.

Remember - no emotion. Be as calm, reasoned, factual, as "For your information" as possible. The calmer your letter, the more it will hurt your boss. Present his side as well. No hyperbole, just the awful facts and their repurcussions.

The calmer your letter, the scarier it will be to them.
posted by xammerboy at 10:20 AM on December 29, 2004

Anger and resentment hurt you, physically, spiritually and mentally. There may be some mild cosmic, karmic bad effect for the person who acted shittily, but it's non-measurable.

In addition to all the steps above, use cognitive therapy to train yourself to stop obsessing. Wear a rubber band, and when you catch yourself thinking revenge thoughts, snap it against your wrist. Think to yourself "Stop" then repeat a healthy phrase, like "My life is better, and I'm looking forward, not backward."

And I think there's something to be said for small petty vengeance acts of kindness. Be a good person, and helpfully unsubscribe the person from pr0nspam lists.
posted by theora55 at 10:22 AM on December 29, 2004

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