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18 May, 1995

Ann Landers
c/o The Chicago Tribune
435 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

Dear Ann:

I am writing because I desperately need help with a problem that has begun to affect my work. I am gainfully employed at a powerful computer software company in the Northwest.

The problem hampering my success is that I'm plagued by paralyzing feelings of low self-esteem. I've sought professional counseling, and my doctor has told me that a great way to overcome my attacks of anxiety about my abilities and my own very person is to say something soothing. Working with my doctor, I decided that offering myself empowering reassurances to myself would be very helpful. I started out with simple things like "You'll get through this" or "There isn't a problem you can't solve".

These exercises work well. As a matter of fact, they probably work a little too well. I've reacted to them like a drug; when confronted about an idea I've presented in a meeting, I'm finding that I'm completely dependent on yelling "I'm the man!" at the top of my lungs. When questioned by more than two people simultaneously, I will jump on my desk and scream: "I will bury you all!". During my performance review, just as I got my bonus numbers, I blurted out: "I'm the baddest in the land!" to quell the fear that was rising inside me.

I'm afraid I'm becoming the Muhammed Ali of software development. The reactions of my coworkers are just as bad as you might suspect: I'm shunned, nobody eats lunch with me, and I get uncontroversial but boring and tedious assignments.

I'm hoping you can offer some advice which will help me overcome this problem without crushing my fragile ego in the process.


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