She Feels Like A Loser

Dale Archer, M.D. Thursday, August 15, 2013 0
She Feels Like A Loser

Dr. Archer,

I’m a young lady in the media industry. As far as my career is concerned, I feel like I’m not making progress. I write articles for a weekly newspaper, and I’m often told I’m a good writer. The thing is, I don’t have the drive to wake up in the morning and do something productive. I don’t feel excited about life or motivated to do something great.

I feel like a loser compared to my peers. I feel they’ve accomplished more, while I have very little to show for my seven years in journalism. I’m always criticizing myself for not being driven when it comes to my career.

How do I get motivated? I feel passive and inactive all the time. I’ve tried motivational books, but I get motivated just for a little while before falling back into the same cycle.

How do other people my age do so well and stay so confident? I know people don’t get promoted overnight and must work their way up. But the thought of that scares me. As a result, any workplace scares me.

I’ve never heard of anyone else with this specific fear. People look at me in a weird way when I tell them about my phobia. It makes me think I’m weird or lack the intelligence to have a successful career. They can’t relate when I tell them I have a fear of failing to deliver at work.

The thing is, this fear doesn’t help me perform better. Just the opposite! It reduces my concentration and makes me feel useless. I end up being afraid to take on new responsibilities that have to do with my growth.

I recently went to a job interview at a reputable newspaper in my area. They seemed satisfied with me, as I appeared confident and knew what I was talking about. They said they’d call me in the coming weeks. Now, I keep getting the familiar feeling that I’ll fail to perform and disappoint them.

I want this job so badly, but I’m afraid I won’t meet their expectations due to my passive and slow nature. I don’t know if I’m making any sense, but I’d like your advice on how to get rid of this phobia and become confident in my work. I’m confident in interactions with other people socially, just not in my career, and I don’t know why.


Dear Jane,

My initial impression of your personality is that you’re a person who always sees the glass as half empty. You are clearly a bright and educated woman with at least some success in your chosen field. But rather than recognizing that, you compare yourself to others who appear to be more successful.

I believe we’re taught early in life to either believe in ourselves or doubt ourselves. This is difficult programming to overcome.

Your fears have evolved into what I call “catastrophizing.” You see life and career opportunities as events that reaffirm your negative beliefs, and as a result you sabotage yourself.

Because of this, I don’t think you have a phobia, but you may have a fear of success. Success can be just as challenging as a loss.

Stop comparing yourself to others and start practicing positive self- statements. Norman Vincent Peale said it well: “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy.”

You will continue to have successes and disappointments as long as you live. Celebrate your successes, and learn from your mistakes. Good luck.

Dear Dr. Archer,

A few months ago, I moved with my friend into a two-bedroom apartment. I used to live alone, but she convinced me to move in with her so that we could share rent. We thought it would be fun living together. She informed me we would be staying with her younger sister, who didn’t have a job — meaning we’d feed her. She would be studying.

I didn’t have a problem with it at first, since we agreed to buy groceries together to cut costs. However, it’s starting to bother me because her sister is like a parasite. She’s at home all the time while we work, so she consumes more food than the two of us combined.

I’ve noticed this because there was a time when she was away for a month. The food in the house lasted much longer. Even my friend had to admit it. I was very disappointed when she returned, but tried to be nice to her.

When we shop for groceries, my friend and I split the bill 50/50. I consider this unfair. I feel she should pay a bit more because she has one extra mouth to feed in the house. 

I haven’t spoken to her about it because I’m afraid she might think I’m being selfish. Am I?

I don’t want to ruin our friendship because she’s generally a very sweet person. 

To make matters worse, her sister sometimes gives me the silent treatment, making me feel isolated. She chooses to chat with her older sister, although we used to get along very well. Sometimes I stay in my room while they’re chatting and laughing. I feel left out, and neither check up on me to see if I’m OK.

I feel awkward or unwelcome when I walk in on their conversations. Sometimes they continue chatting as if I don’t even exist. I don’t think my friend notices she’s isolating me, but I get a strong feeling her sister is aware of the awkwardness I feel.

When it comes to paying for satellite TV, my friend and I, again, split the amount between us. Her sister, however, spends more time in front of the television than the two of us. Sometimes I can’t watch my shows because she’s watching hers. 

Most days, when we get home from work there are breakfast and lunch dishes in the sink. My friend’s sister is relaxed all day. Since her sister doesn’t complain, I don’t feel it’s my place to scold her. It’s gotten to the point I don’t look forward to going home anymore.

I told my boyfriend about this, but he feels I’m so used to living alone that sometimes I over-exaggerate things and scolds me for being selfish. He comes from a big family. He says if I can’t cope with two people, how am I going to fit into his big family? I thought it was very insensitive of him.  

I don’t have a problem with my friend’s sister; I just don’t enjoy being made to feel isolated. I don’t think it’s fair to be treated this way by someone I’m trying hard to be patient with. I don’t complain about it, but choose to suffer in silence. I know I agreed to this when my friend asked me, and I’m partly to blame. But I didn’t know it would be like this. Am I really being selfish or am I being reasonable?


Dear Camille,

No, you are not being selfish. It may have been your friend’s sister’s apartment, but she needed her sister to move in to pay the rent, and your friend needed you to help her. True, you knew this was the arrangement, and you agreed to it, but, as you said, you choose to suffer in silence.

If you’re bothered by what’s going on, it’s time to speak up.

It’s typically easier to live with one roommate than two. This prevents some of the triangulated roommate relationship problems that are going on here. The feeling of two against one can leave you feeling angry and frustrated. This problem is much more prevalent with women than men.

Talk to your friend soon. Let her know exactly how you feel. She’s either going to agree or she’s going to side with her sister. If she goes along with you, then you need to make a list of chores her sister should do while you’re gone, such as vacuuming, washing the dishes, taking out the trash, etc. She’s getting a free ride, and that’s not fair — period.

If she doesn’t, then give her a notice that you’ll be moving out, and find your own place. Too bad your boyfriend didn’t support you through this. But this isn’t his issue, it’s yours. Hopefully, your friend will not only understand, but back you up. As Seneca said, “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

Of course, there are no guarantees. Living with roommates is much more than just rent and groceries. Everyone must chip in and do their part or there will be hard feelings. Talk to your friend soon, and hopefully a compromise can be reached. If not, it’s time to go. Good luck!


Dr. Dale Archer is a board certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book Better than Normal. Visit