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Ask the Experts

Question:

I am a 38 year old woman, who is having a hard time going back to work. I fear that I will fail my family at home, and my superiors at work. I fear failure. I work very hard, but I never feel like it is enough. I never seem to fill the empty hole in me. Why do I feel like this? I keep hitting a wall when it comes time to make a decision about a job. I fear that if I say yes to work, I say no to my children. I am torn and very anxious.

Answered by: Franklin Schneier

It sounds like you are facing a difficult life change, and you're having trouble making a decision. The way you describe your thinking about the choice is extremely black and white, "failing" your family and superiors at work, saying "no" to your children. And it seems that you're also aware that there is something detrimental with the way you feel about it, and that this is part of a more longstanding problem that you have with feeling that you are never doing enough.

The kind of difficulty you describe might be helped by psychotherapy that would help give you some perspective on these issues, help you understand how your approach is increasing your anxiety, and help you develop a more effective way of dealing with the current situation and with the longer term issues as well.