Dear Susan: I recently applied for a job that I have applied for unsuccessfully three times in the past. I got my hopes up this time because they called me in for two interviews. It came down to me and another candidate and I lost out. It was pretty devastating as I am certain I would have loved the work. I also would have enjoyed earning a decent wage for the first time in years. I’m feeling quite discouraged. What’s holding me back? Is it my attitude? Generally speaking I would say I’m happy with my life and I am very proud that I was able to buy a place for my daughter and I to live. Besides my work troubles, I’m feeling sad that over the years I seem to have alienated my siblings. I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong but I suspect my mother is behind this. They have all worked hard and made it and I sense they all feel I should be able to find a better paying job. I need to come to terms with the shame I feel, but don’t know how. How can I improve my work and family life? Defeated

Dear Defeated: You can start by eradicating the word shame from your head. A hardworking woman who has bought home for herself and daughter has nothing to be ashamed about. It is your mindset that holds you back, not your spirit. You have lost sight of your achievements. Who in your family has faced the emotional difficulties that you have over the last decade? I will tell you none. One cannot endure such turmoil, and then do what you have done without having a strong spirit and drive. You still have that; you just don’t see it. Keep going after new jobs. I guarantee you that if you keep trying a door will open. You have a lot to offer. You’re conscientious, intelligent and experienced. On the home front, I suspect you’ve grown away form your family because you don’t open up to them and therefore seem aloof. I that’s not the case. I would encourage you to reconnect with them. Spring 2008 will see new work opportunities for you if you just have little faith.