There has to be at least one time in your life when you stop and wonder, “What’s wrong with me.” It could be an underlying feeling you’ve had for a long time but just couldn’t put your finger on it. It could be that something happened to you, some event or series of events, that got your attention because you didn’t like how things felt and/or how they were working out for you. It could be that you’ve reached a crossroads in your life where you knew something had to change in order for you to go on.
It’s easy to think that there’s something wrong with you when you feel lousy about yourself more days than not—the way you see yourself in the mirror, your not-so-healthy self-esteem, and the way you see your life unfolding or falling apart. It’s a sense that you’re just drifting along on a river to nowhere, and can’t begin to know how to steer the ship, and how to navigate where you want to go. It’s a helpless, out-of-control feeling we’ve all had at some point in our lives.
The question is, though, is there really something wrong with you, or is it that you don’t know how to course-correct and don’t have the tools to help you navigate and stay the course without losing faith in yourself and your destiny? Sure, we all have those things about ourselves that we don’t like. But that’s far different than believing that you have the Midas Touch in reverse: Everything you touch turns to trash.
Let’s take a look at some areas of life where you're having trouble or are very dissatisfied with how things are going. Let’s start with you personally. You don’t like how you look. You don’t think you’re intelligent. You don’t have any luck. You can’t make decisions. You find life overwhelming. You feel helpless to change the direction of your life.
Then there are relationships. You have trouble finding a meaningful relationship. You can’t make a relationship work and last. You don’t like your family. You can’t get them to listen to you, to pay attention to you, to encourage you. Some family members give you trouble, are very hard on you. You feel like you don’t belong in your family. Along the same lines, you have friends to hang out with but no one who really understands you or anyone you can count on in times of need.
Then there’s work. You’re stuck in a job you don’t like. You have no passion or excitement about what you do for a living. You’re in a job where you can’t get ahead. Every day is the same old same old. You’re bored and unmotivated. Your work makes you anxious and stressed out.
Then there’s the rest of it. Actually, you don’t feel excited, motivated, passionate about anything. You’re just living to exist with an occasional bright spot in an otherwise gloomy atmosphere. It’s no wonder you feel that there’s something wrong with you, especially when you don’t know how to fix it. And more importantly, when you don’t know how to fix your perception of life, and don’t recognize that you even have the ability to change your perception of life. But, the reality is that by making some changes in your thinking, feeling, and behavior you can actually change the outcome of your life.
So, instead of thinking that there’s something wrong with you that you can’t fix, let’s reframe that thinking to say that you don’t have the tools to fix what ails you. With the proper tools you can change yourself and the course your life takes. So here are some strategies to begin to use immediately and hopefully, you’ll see some positive results in a reasonable amount of time.
Regulate your daily schedule. Waking up every day as if you are doing it for the first time will leave you feeling disorganized and dysfunctional. Whatever else you want to accomplish it’s essential that you develop regularity and consistency in your life. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. So, create a schedule of daily activities and stick to it. There’s a time to wake up, eat, work, go to sleep, and relax. A daily schedule centers and grounds you in your life. After a while, you won’t have to think about it. With that established you can focus on those issues that concern you, need your attention, and strive to change positively.
Don’t overthink. So much time is spent worrying and being anxious. As Mark Twain said, “I had a lot of problems in my life but most of them never happened.” We tend to dwell on all the things we can’t control and all the possible things that can go wrong. It’s reasonable to set aside a certain amount of time to think about your issues and problems but if all you ever accomplish is going round and round and going nowhere, you’re thinking too much. The idea is to wrap your brain around what’s not right in your life and to develop a strategy to effectively deal with it. It may take baby steps but anything that moves you forward is positive.
Focus on all that’s right with you. We often don’t give ourselves credit for all of our good qualities and all of the things we’ve accomplished. Surely, we each have some nice qualities and some things we’re proud of having accomplished. Instead of dwelling on the negative, climb up out of your rut and think about what steps you can take and resources you can tap into in order to advance yourself in life. For example, what new skills do you want to learn that might broaden your horizons? Use past experiences, both positive and negative to help you propel yourself forward. What did you learn from your past good memories and experiences that you may be able to borrow from now? For those things that were difficult, what lessons did you learn?
Learn to like your own company. While it’s great to have friends and people that support you, it’s important to learn to admire and respect yourself. It’s easy to seek out relationships to reaffirm that you are liked and are important to others. But, what about the times when you’re alone. Can you stand to be by yourself? Cultivate interests that are satisfying to you personally and that you enjoy doing alone.
As for friends, honestly assess people you hang out with and determine if you feel genuinely good about these relationships. Do those you call your friends really care about what happens to you? Do they pay attention and listen to you? Are these people there for you when you really need them, especially when things are not going well.
Realistically assess family ties and relationships. This is a huge, incredibly complicated topic. What happens when you don’t get along with your family members, or worse, dislike them intensely. We are all influenced by our families. We develop our ideas, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes about life and about ourselves through our family of origin. What if our perception of ourselves and our lives is determined by those significant others. Negative thinking can be quite contagious from those who raise us. The idea that things are “wrong” and need fixing can originate from home.
If you have a hard time with family members you can try some strategies. For example, try communicating one-on-one instead of at family gatherings where there’s competition for attention and you’re less likely to be heard. If verbal communication doesn’t get you what you need, find other ways to spend time where you can experience something together to help you bond. Or, if you simply find it too difficult and/or painful to be around family, limit your contact or take some time away.
For an intimate relationship to work, it takes two. Do you understand what an intimate relationship entails? Do you know why past relationships haven’t worked out? How much was your responsibility? Is there a pattern in your past relationships of the kind of person you choose? Are your expectations of the kind of relationship and/or the person you want to be involved with too unrealistic? Are your relationships founded on a fantasy of what a relationship is? Intimate relationships are not just based on magically falling in love but take a huge amount of time, energy, and persistence.
Realistically assess what you want to do for a living. Why did you choose the line of work you did? Did you just fall into it or did you carefully plan your career path and goals? Is your work satisfying? If not, why do you keep doing it? Are you afraid to be out of a job while you’re looking for something new? Are you staying in a job for the income? Does your work make you anxious, stress you out? Do you like your work environment, boss, co-workers, or is work a torture you get up for every day? What steps can you take to correct course so that what you choose to do is more in line with your personality, lifestyle, passion, and enjoyment?
Often things are out of our control no matter how hard we try. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Accept what you can’t control and do the best you can with what you can control now. If there’s some action you can take, take it. If there’s anything you can change, change it. Keeping an open attitude and an eye out for opportunity will help you fix what you think is wrong with you, and achieve more of what is potentially right with you.