It feels like the opposite to the German word Schadenfreude — pleasure derived from another person's misfortune — a term I used in my advertising days when making TV commercials. It turns out there is a word for the opposite: Gluckschmerz.
Gluckschmerz is feeling unhappy about the good fortune of others. Is that perhaps something you’re feeling?
It’s not a comfortable feeling, but it is a human one. The use of social media to amplify, and often even overstate moments of happiness and positivity, can mean that we are bombarded by this content without any visibility of the flip side.
Visibility of the pain of being made redundant, of the fear of finding employment, the stress of being able to take care of our responsibilities, the unhappiness of doing work we don’t want to but feel we have no choice, the surrender of control to the forces around us when we don’t have the energy or capacity to make meaningful change happen.
So we see the good fortune of others and feel a deep sense of what we don’t have for ourselves, and this can be difficult. Where do we even start with making change happen for ourselves?
Acceptance is key here. Accepting what is not in our control, and rather focusing our time and energy on what we can control, and what we can influence.
Putting our energy into what we cannot control is wasted. Instead, think about what you can do. Scrolling your LinkedIn feed is but one of many things the platform is built for. You can also job search, create job alerts, refine your profile, and send messages to people in your network who can help. You can even turn off notifications or stop using it for a week (you really can). You will know what is best for you, and you are in control of how you use your time on LinkedIn or any social media platform.
When thinking about what else we can do, think about priorities, think about how you can mitigate risks and reduce impact, think about how you can make adjustments in the short term, and what needs to be addressed in the medium to longer term. Focussing energy on what is within your control and sphere of influence is not only more constructive, it will also build your resilience and confidence as you become more productive.
Mindset and approach are critical here, and it’s important to recognise that you are in control of your mindset and approach, however hard that might seem at times.
Researching tools and strategies to help your mindset and your approach is a good place to start, as well as finding perspective by asking others for their thoughts and support when you need it.
At this uncertain time, many will be struggling with redundancy and the significant impacts on us and our lives as individuals. Taking the time to come to terms with your experience and current situation can be as important in moving towards acceptance. Allowing yourself to reflect, to acknowledge, and to let go can help work through and shed thoughts and feelings that will not serve you moving forward. It’s an intentional and deliberate process that takes time and attention.
The reality of the situation at an individual level and at a macro level is uncertain and at scale. It is okay to not be okay, to have Gluckschmerz, and to feel anxious. Acknowledgement, acceptance, and refocusing on what we can do little by little, step by step, is a way to generate movement and progress intentionally and constructively.