Are you feeling lost and confused? Are you struggling to feel happy or content with your life? Do you feel bad about yourself or the world around you and have begun to wonder why?
All of us have been going through an unprecedented and undeniably traumatic struggle since the beginning of 2020. The global pandemic knocked a lot of people off their feet, and we’re still reeling from the shock over a year and a half later.
Rates of depression, anxiety, stress, and even hopelessness have soared in the last year, in a pandemic not only dangerous to our physical health but to our mental and emotional health, too.
Whether you’ve been feeling low over the past year or your negative feelings have persisted for much longer than that, this article is for you. We’ll explore some of the common reasons why people believe there is something wrong with them and offer some helpful tips and advice to help you feel better.
Some of the advice we’ll offer will involve your own focus and determination. Some will require support from others, and some will refer to the benefits of seeking professional help when you feel you’re entering a downward spiral.
Is there something wrong with me?
First things first, if you’re asking what is wrong with you, it is important to understand that the answer might be ‘nothing.’ Of course, there might be something challenging going on in your life, such as unprecedented stress, the loss of a relationship, the loss of someone you love, or a mental health issue, but there is nothing inherently ‘wrong’ with you.
Sometimes when things don’t go our way, we tend to look for reasons. We want to find something to blame, even if that something to blame is ourselves. We tend to believe that if we could answer the question ‘what is wrong with me?’ we would then have it all figured out, and life would be perfect.
However, life is not perfect and neither are we. Things don’t always run as smoothly as we would like, and there are unexpected changes, wins, losses, and circumstances around every corner. Despite the fact life is imperfect and unpredictable, we often convince ourselves that we’re supposed to be in control.
We consider being in control and in charge of everything as a sign of strength, maturity, and adulthood. We may berate ourselves with harsh self-criticism when things inevitably take their own course.
You don’t have to be in control of everything, and you couldn’t even if you wanted to in the first place. Whether you’re dealing with a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, going through big changes in your life, or have made a few mistakes that bring your sense of morals and right behavior into question, understand that it’s all perfectly natural.
That’s not to say it’s ideal – struggling with one’s mental health is a significant challenge and can often overwhelm one’s ability to cope. Going through big changes such as the loss of a relationship or the death of a loved one are no easy feat to overcome.
Making mistakes, though human, can make us feel awful about ourselves and may lead us into a vicious cycle of toxic self-shame and disappointment.
Why do I feel like something is wrong with me?
There are many reasons why you might feel that there’s something wrong with you. Below, we’ve outlined some common situations and circumstances in which people tend to ask ‘what’s wrong with me? Read on and see if any of these apply to your experience.
You feel lonely
Loneliness is a perfectly natural human feeling. Still, it is one of the more uncomfortable states along the spectrum of human experience and is something that people tend to go to great lengths to avoid. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it is also one of the leading causes of stress, depression, anxiety, and suicide globally.
Loneliness is not the same as being alone. We can be alone and still enjoy our lives. We might simply enjoy the time we spend with ourselves or take refuge in our own company when life, relationships, and social interactions become tiresome or overwhelming.
When you feel lonely, you feel as if nobody’s there for you. You might feel that nobody understands you and that your life is unseen or unheard. You might struggle to connect with others, and as a result, miss out on the mental and emotional benefits of human connection and bonding.
When we feel lonely, it’s not uncommon to feel like something is wrong with us. We might see others boning with friends on social media, going out for dinner and drinks with friends and coworkers, and generally enjoying their lives, and wonder why that life is not ours, even wishing you were someone else.
We might feel unable to forge social connections and blame ourselves for a deficient personality or a lack of social skills. As such, loneliness is one of the main causes of the feeling that something is wrong.
You’re trying to live up to unrealistic expectations
Are you overly critical of yourself? Are you telling yourself that something must be wrong with you because you haven’t achieved a certain goal or reached a certain stage of life yet?
It’s normal to want to reach goals, and it’s normal to feel a little disappointed when we don’t. Still, it’s important, in fact, crucial to check in with yourself and see whether those goals and expectations are really your own.
Sometimes we listen too much to others. We might have demanding and critical parents who expect something from us that doesn’t align with our own values and expectations for our life. For example, a parent might want you to follow a certain career path, find a certain type of partner, or stay near the family home even if you want to live in a different city or country.
When we listen too closely to others’ expectations, we might forget that we are responsible for our own lives and don’t need to feel bad if what we live doesn’t meet someone else’s standards or expectations.
On the topic of expectations, we sometimes set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. We might compare ourselves to a skilled coworker, an adventurous friend, or a talented sibling and berate ourselves for not measuring up. We might look at them, notice that we haven’t achieved the same things, and come to think there must be something wrong with us.
Comparison with others’ steals your joy. You are not here on earth to compare yourself to others or to achieve the same goals as others. Your life is uniquely your own and will have its own ups and downs, so try to let go of comparison and unnecessary expectations.
You’re stressed out
You might feel like something is wrong with you if you feel overwhelmed. Perhaps work demands are high, and you’re struggling to keep up, which is causing you to feel stressed and edging you closer and closer to a full-blown burnout.
Perhaps your relationship has hit a rough patch, and you’re not sure if things will resolve themselves. Perhaps your family has gone through a significant loss, and your emotions are getting the better of you, causing you to lose focus, clarity, and emotional wellness. Maybe you just can’t get on top of all the things you need to do, and more things keep coming up.
If you feel like something is wrong with you, consider what’s happening in your life. Are you under a lot of stress? Being stressed and becoming overwhelmed are some of the most common causes of physical, mental, and emotional health issues.
According to a 2008 study on stress and health, ‘stressors have a major influence upon mood, our sense of well-being, behavior, and health,’ so it’s not surprising if stress manifests as the belief that there is something wrong with you.
You’re living in groundhog day
Does your life feel monotonous? Does it feel like every day is the same, that you know exactly how it’s going to go? Has it been a long time since you felt excited about the day, week, or month ahead?
Perhaps you’re struggling to deal with a breakup, even though it’s been months or even a year and your friends tell you to move in, but you feel like you can’t. Perhaps you’re working in a job you despise, but you feel trapped. Maybe you’re in a relationship that you know isn’t serving your highest growth, but you can’t seem to muster up the motivation to end it.
All of us get stuck in a rut from time to time. It’s hard to always follow things that excite us to live as a free spirit, especially when we have bills to pay or family members to look after. However, we must experience some excitement and gain new experiences as much as we can.
Feeling stuck in a rut for too long takes the ‘life’ out of life and is sure to give rise to feelings of negativity, which we may turn on ourselves and wonder why we’re not living the life we dream of living. We might come to believe that there is something inherently wrong with us if we find ourselves stuck in a rut.
Your struggling with your physical health
If you’ve noticed that your physical health is not at its optimum level, then naturally, you’ll ask, ‘what is wrong with me?’ If your health is concerned, then don’t hesitate to speak to a medical professional. We are all guilty of turning to Dr. Google in an attempt to self-diagnose.
Still, very often, even the mildest of symptoms are exaggerated, and we may cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary stress, thinking that there is something far more wrong with us then there actually is.
It’s normal to feel worried if something is going on within your body, but again, don’t hesitate to speak to a professional. The sooner you can get some medical advice and a licensed doctor’s opinion, the sooner you can relax knowing that whatever is going on is known about and being taken care of.
You’re struggling with mental health issues
A major contributor to the feeling that something is ‘wrong’ with you is any one of a broad range of mental health issues. It could be that you’re struggling with a personality disorder such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, a stress-related condition such as burnout or post-traumatic disorder, or a common mood disorder such as depression or anxiety.
Mental health issues and mental illness can affect all areas of our lives. They can cause a loss of motivation, which affects our workplace well-being. They can distract us from our daily lives, which can harm our interpersonal relationships.
Mental health issues can also lead to health risk behaviors such as substance use or disordered eating, which can significantly and negatively impact our physical health and exacerbate existing mental health issues.
If your mental health isn’t great, then you’ll likely feel like something is wrong with you. Even if a medical or mental health professional hasn’t given you an official diagnosis, you might have noticed that your mood, mental status, thought patterns or behavior have shifted and are causing you some problems.
If you’ve noticed that your mental health has been sub-par lately, then don’t hesitate to speak to a doctor or mental health professional. If you were suffering from a physical illness, you probably wouldn’t hesitate to seek professional help. So, do the same for your mental health.
Your self-esteem is low
If you’re struggling with your self-esteem, then you’ll likely believe that there is something inherently wrong with you. Low self-esteem is a lack of confidence in our abilities, goodness, and self-worth. There are many causes of low self-esteem, including health issues, trauma, or overly critical parents, or a series of successive failures.
If self-esteem issues are causing you to feel like something is wrong with you, know that it doesn’t have to be permanent. There are many tips and techniques we can use to boost our confidence and improve our self-view.
Very often, the beliefs that arise when our self-esteem is low are not an accurate reflection of reality. For example, low self-esteem and a low sense of self-worth can make us feel like nobody loves us or that nobody cares, when in reality, we may have love and care readily available; we just can’t see it.
Self-esteem issues can be overcome through a combination of self-help and therapy. Later in this article, we’ll offer some practical tips and advice you can start applying to your life today that can boost your confidence and self-esteem and help you finally stop wondering what’s ‘wrong’ with you.
How to feel better about yourself
There are so many reasons why people come to believe there is something wrong with them. Sometimes, mental health issues affect our emotional well-being, motivation, and even our ability to focus, making us feel broken or ‘not enough.’
Sometimes, stress can get the better of us and make us feel like we’re incapable of managing our lives. Sometimes we’ve been through upsetting, confusing, or frightening experiences, and we’ve been led to believe that we couldn’t possibly be good or worthy.
If you feel like there’s something with you, for whatever reason, know that you don’t have to feel that way forever. Below we have outlined some actionable steps you can take to get the root of your issue. Some of these are methods of self-help, while others involve professional support.
Bear in mind that this article is not a replacement for medical advice, so if you truly believe that something is confusing or unhealthy going on with your mind or body, please speak to a professional.
If you think there’s something wrong with you…
Identify the issue
What do you think is wrong with you? If you really believe there’s something wrong, it may help to clarify your thoughts. Try writing your thoughts down in a journal, make a voice note, or take some time to breathe, clear your mind a bit, and think about what the root of the issue is.
Do you feel like there’s something wrong with you because you’re experiencing some social anxiety? Is it because you’ve made a mistake and let someone down? Or is it because you feel like you lack purpose or meaning in your life?
Whatever it is, you can begin the process of overcoming the feeling by getting clear on what it is in the first place. Bear in mind that once you identify the issue, that does not mean that it’s entirely true or set in stone. Still, you can seek the right kind of support with a clearer picture and make it easier for others to understand exactly what you’re going through.
Try to relax
Often, the belief that something is wrong comes out of nowhere. It arises as a thought, and we cling to it. It takes us down a mental rabbit hole of seemingly rational and evidence-based reasons why there is ‘definitely something wrong’ with us. If this describes your experience, the first and most important action to take is to step back and breathe.
Suddenly, feeling like something is deeply wrong can be overwhelming and may elicit the onset of a panic attack. Whether you’re prone to panic attacks or not, it’s crucial to have some soothing and grounding techniques at the ready. Practice and become familiar with some deep, diaphragmatic breathing techniques, mantra meditations, or mindful awareness.
If the feeling persists for longer than a few minutes, there are plenty of other ways to cope. Consider changing your environment, such as going out for a walk in nature or visiting your favorite coffee shop.
Try reading a book, watching a movie you like or that you’ve been meaning to watch, or do some yoga or pilates. The feeling that something is wrong can be deeply uncomfortable, but more often than not, it’s just that – a feeling – and like all feelings, it will pass. In the meantime, do something you know you enjoy and that makes you feel grounded, happy, and at peace with yourself.
Reach out to friends or family for support
Wondering if there’s something wrong with you can be emotionally taxing. If you feel like you’re inherently bad, unworthy of love, or incapable of managing your life, try to reach out to a trusted friend or close family member for support. Simply sharing your concerns can take much of the load off your shoulders and may go a long way in making you feel better.
Those who love you will be willing to listen to what you have to say, your worries, your concerns, and your fears, and may even offer some compassionate advice. Seeking support is a brave act of self-care and is one of the most effective ways to tackle your negative feelings.
Speak to a therapist
There is a stigma surrounding the choice to seek professional help for mental health. When a person does not have an official diagnosis of a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, they can still benefit greatly from speaking to a therapist.
Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to seek help for their mental and emotional struggles because they perceive seeking help as a sign of weakness. Others convince them that therapy or counseling is ‘pointless,’ ‘doesn’t work,’ or a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Some people mistakenly believe that the role of a therapist is to tell you what’s wrong with you, to tell you that you’re depressed, or to convince you to take medication. This is also untrue.
The role of a therapist is to help you explore your own feelings and emotions. They are not there to tell you something is wrong and may never even tell you that you’re depressed, or anxious, or suffering from some other mental health issue. A therapist facilitates your own self-exploration.
They are trained to offer compassionate support and sensitive trauma-informed care as a means of helping you identify areas in your life where you’re struggling, facilitate your own innate healing abilities, and help you develop the tools and skills necessary to make the changes in your life that would facilitate your optimum personal growth.
Of course, they offer help for those struggling with mental and emotional health issues, such as offering cognitive behavioral therapy and other life skills for those struggling with mood disorders and other mental health issues. Still, you don’t need to have an official diagnosis to reap the benefits of working with a mental health professional.
A final note
Take care of yourself. We are often our own worst critics. We tend to berate ourselves for not achieving all we set out to achieve or meeting all of the expectations we set for ourselves. Listen to your inner thoughts and consider if you would ever talk to a friend that way (you probably wouldn’t).
Mind your mental and physical health by getting enough sleep (7-9 hours a night), engaging in regular exercise following a healthy, nutritious diet, and sharing how you feel with those whom you love. Whether or not you feel like there’s something wrong with you, you have a responsibility to take care of yourself. As long as you’re doing that, there’s nothing wrong.