Dear Dr. Archer,
I just bought your book but haven't started to read it yet. I'm hoping it will make me feel better and that I'm okay. My story begins with a very controlling, overprotective, narcissistic Jewish mother. She had us later in life, at the age of 40. Us, as in twins.
We were born about four weeks premature and she was very ill prepared on many levels. My sister had a hiatal hernia and had to be operated on days after birth. Luckily she survived. However, this set my mother out to be overprotective of her and ignore me. I was given very little attention and no nurturing.
I grew up trying to be a perfectionist, to please my parents. My father loved me, but he was a workaholic so he was seldom home. Religiously he was very strict, and we were not allowed to date. Fun, huh? Luckily I was athletic and creative. I became very anxious in school, and was afraid to be on my own, but somehow I made it.
I ended up working for the family business -- helping run a motel. Only a doctor or lawyer were acceptable careers, so I always felt like I was disappointing them. I developed anxiety phobias in my early 20's, and a hypercondriac at 37, a few years after dad passed. My mother passed five years ago and I'm slowly getting better.
I designed a shoe accessory and have a patent pending. I turn 50 this month, and I'm just wanting to start my life now. I've never been married and have no children. I have plenty of fears, but I also have plenty of ambition, like taking my design to the top. I have more, too, but I'm here, stuck in my little world of fears.
Can you help me break free so I can live the great life I desire?
I can assure you, G, you're not only okay, you sound like a very talented and insightful survivor. Be proud of your accomplishments.
It's never too late to start living, and I'm thankful you realize that. Too often parents, and sometimes even kids, feel that a doctor or lawyer equals success, and everything else a failure. but we all know intuitively this is not the case.
We all have our own special talents. Finding those talents, honing them and using them to our advantage can bring an amazing feeling of well being, happiness and success.
Anxiety is a natural trait, and having some anxiety can help guide us in the right direction throughout life. Too much, however, prevents us from becoming all we can become.
I spend an entire chapter on anxiety in Chapter 5, Hyper Alert and talk about what’s good about it. Of course all-consuming anxiety can lead to depression, but I do not sense that in your letter.
I believe you have a great sense of your talents and your worth, and now you're free to explore all you can become, but of course you’re a bit afraid because you now have to define your own success.
Sometimes when we face our fears, we can overcome them. At other times, concentrating on something else at hand, and not concentrating on that which causes anxiety can work.
I really think you are fine, G, and I have no magical words to guide you. You just have to deal with your old notion of what constitutes success.
Here are some of my favorite quotes: "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway” -John Wayne. "Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears”- Les Brown.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” -Thomas Edison. "Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed” -Abraham Lincoln.
Quite simply, success is a self defined term for each of us. You need to define it your way and embrace it for what it is. No more living in the past, allowing others to define your happiness.
Your letter indicates that you're up for the challenge and you're ready to conquer your fears and make your mark in the world. Go for it, you have the drive and the confidence in yourself. Check back with us and let us know how you're doing, I love success stories!