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          Self Matters

          The Road to Happiness

          December 01, 2002

          “My biggest fear is living alone the rest of my life,” says Cynthia, 47, who hasn’t felt like she’s been successful since her daughter left for college six years ago.

           

          “I just want to know how I can help my mom feel better about herself,” says Letoya, who’s concerned that  her mom doesn’t even know how to find happiness.

          Here’s what Dr. Phil has to say:

          • At the core of each person’s authenticity is passion. Ask yourself: What are you good at? Cynthia knows she’s a caregiver, and feels she’s been denied that role since her daughter left for college. “I know now that she can just about take care of herself, so what else is there for me to do?” she asks. “I’m not needed anymore.”
          • “You’re a single mom and you’ve gotten a master’s degree and gotten your daughter to college and you’re doggin’ on yourself?” asks Dr. Phil. How can you possibly think you’ve not been successful?

            While Letoya assures her mother that she needs her as much as ever, Dr. Phil suggests Cynthia also needs to find other ways to channel her caregiving. “Do you really believe that this is a country that doesn’t need a caring and giving spirit like you every day of every week of every month of every year?” he asks.

          • When did you decide you had had all the fun you were going to have in your life? Get back in the game. Stop sitting on the sidelines. Behave your way to success. You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it.
          • When a child leaves for college, your role changes. It doesn’t go away. The challenge is now to redefine who you are, and find new ways to maintain a connection to your child. Find a new way to be in your daughter’s life.
          • It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Don’t feel guilty for putting yourself on the priority list. (Besides, if you love your daughter, you’ve got to take care of her mom.)
          • The way to fill yourself up is to give. Get involved with a charity organization, or give your time and energy to the needy.
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