In 2013, after giving my life-blood for over 2 years to a cause I deeply believed in, it was “suggested” that I resign for the sake of my family. No kidding. This was the exact comment. Apparently, there was to be a newspaper article the next day, front page, above the fold, with a picture — about me and my failures as a leader.

I could not have tried harder or believed more in what we had been doing. I believed in it so much that without me realizing it, this had become my identity. So walking away was so much more than just losing a job or being run over by the proverbial bus. This was personal. And debilitating.

Your story may not involve a newspaper, or even the loss of a job. Being held responsible for something you did or didn’t do, failing at a big project, or losing a big sale can be just as debilitating if you let it. So here are some thoughts on how to recover from a severe blow to your ego.

1. Breathe

You’ve just been dealt a major hit, but not all is lost in the world. What’s good right now? Maybe the sun is shining. Or the flowers are popping up after a terrible winter (which you may have not even noticed because you’ve been working so hard). Or your kid is staring at you with big round eyes, NOT CARING that you just lost your job or had a bad day at work.

2. Know

Know that the people who love you, the ones that really count, still love you. They don’t measure your worth based on your job title or whether you nailed the presentation. Your personal identity may be wrapped up in this but guess what – their image of you is not. Embrace what they see, not what you see right now.

Are you angry? Get angry – and release it. Keeping it in will only eat you slowly from the inside and impact everyday life in a way you can’t control. Get it out. Yell, scream, whatever you need to do to get it out of your system and as far away as possible. Just release the energy.

3. Mourn

It may seem crazy, but if your ego just took a major hit, you need to give yourself time to mourn the loss of your job, your reputation, your name, whatever is hurting the most. It can be as if part of you died, and you deserve a minute or two to mourn that loss.

4. Ask

When you’re ready, you need to ask yourself some tough questions. Namely, “What could I have done differently? What role did I play in this? How could I have impacted the outcome of this?” It’s so easy to say that we had nothing to do with the situation and to blame the whole thing on others. But is that really the case? Let’s be honest, that’s almost never the case. Your realization of these things is integral in you moving on.

5. Focus

Focus on the opportunity and the positives. After all, whether you wanted it or not, this has created an opportunity, and whether or not they are apparent to you right this very second, I can bet you there are some positives. What are they? Only you can answer that.

My process took several weeks, or if I’m being really truthful with myself, months. I was in deep. It was going through the steps above, and revisiting them regularly, that empowered me to rebound.

Need help working through something like this? Extend Coaching & Consulting focuses on embracing and managing the underlying emotion that may be interfering with your greatness. Let us help you.