Life is out of control


Life is out of control


your avatar   Molly, 28-year-old woman

I left my job four months ago after incredible stress at work coupled with low pay, long hours and non-existent support. I felt I had no choice but to leave for my own sake. Unfortunately I am now unable to find another job. My money problems are growing and I feel frustrated and unhappy.

My job worries are also compounding problems elsewhere. My boyfriend left me 2 1/2 years ago. It was a very bad, messy split that took me a long time to come to terms with; however, I have gotten over this and have even become somewhat friendly with my ex, which was important to me. Now, however, I seem unable to start a new relationship or take any risks. I met a new man but instead of dating him I asked him to share my house. I am driving myself crazy. Now I cannot tell him how I feel about him because of the consequences.

My self-esteem is suffering and I seem to have entered a spiraling circle of self-doubt, anger, frustration and unhappiness - one of which I seem unable to make heads or tails of. Everyone else seems to be successful and have effortless lives. Mine always seems unorganized, chaotic and messy in comparison. I seem unable to move forward and find a good relationship. Or even make the first initial move.

How do I move forward and stop this circle of events?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Molly,

I am afraid I cannot help with the practical problems of finding a job, or of surviving without it. After all, I don't even know what country you live in. Also, I feel rather confused about the issues with the man you invited to share your house.

However, I feel I can comment on your last statements: 'Everyone else seems to be successful and have effortless lives. Mine always seems unorganized, chaotic and messy in comparison. I seem unable to move forward and find a good relationship.'

Molly, this is simply not true, but it is highly significant that you should believe it.

I don't know anyone who has an effortless life. Do you ever read the women's magazines? They are full of the woes of the rich and 'successful': divorces, drug and alcohol addiction, other obvious responses to highly stressful lives, even occasionally suicide.

You had a very painful breakup with your partner, two and a half years ago. You're in good company -- Nicole Kidman, poor lady, has recently done the same.

Let's just think about your words. What would an effortless life be like? It would be boring and meaningless. Happiness is not something you can buy off the shelf, but is the result of meaning. And meaning is achieved by having something worthwhile to strive for.

You have been now without a job for four months. Have you been actively seeking work since? How actively? My suspicion is that your negative beliefs about yourself have got into the way of finding a suitable job.

Let me put it this way: if were an employer with a job to offer, and your mirror image applied, would you hire her? I doubt it. I think that your job applications subtly reflected your belief that you are not as good as other people, not worth hiring.

And yet... Suppose I gave you a job. How would you feel? Grateful? Determined to justify my faith in you? Desperate to make good and give satisfaction?

If yes, then you deserve a job. Get this into your head. Make up a poster and stick it on your wall:


Look at it, and say it to yourself as you write the next job application. Paint yourself in good colours, make your application stand out, and see if your luck changes.

The same is true of anything else you want to change about your situation. You don't like being messy? Tidy up, girl! You can achieve anything you want (within reason) by taking the first step, and then just keeping going.

I think you have been hesitating on the verge of that first step. My mother had a saying: "Open your mouth as wide as you like, the roast chicken still won't fly into it." You can achieve your aims only by DOING, not by WISHING and still less by envying.

You can do it.

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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