Do you look at yourself in the mirror every day and only see a broken-down has-been or never-was? Maybe you feel like the universe is out to get you because things just keep going wrong, and the only common denominator is you.
“What the fuck is wrong with me?” You ask your reflection again and again. It’s quite common for us to wonder why bad things keep happening to us. Is it karma? Are we just bad people? Unlucky? The good news is that there are things you can do to help deal with these feelings.
The saying, “You are your own worst enemy,” is more than just an axiom. It carries a lot of truth. Our inner critic is always looking for the worst things, and it often drowns out the good stuff.
There are a few reasons why we dislike ourselves. They’re not all our fault, though. Learning to like yourself and be comfortable with who and what you are involves a lot more than just positive thinking.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as toxic positivity. The idea that you merely need to maintain a positive outlook on life to be happy is problematic.
It’s impossible to stay positive all the time. Bad things happen that upset us, and trying to sweep the resulting feelings away with positive thinking makes things worse.
You can’t just choose to be happy and expect it to happen. And when you try “positive thinking,” and other methods involving toxic positivity, you end up hating yourself that much more when you fail.
Everyone needs goals for which to strive. Those aren’t the problem, though. It’s the idea that you should never be satisfied with where you are. You believe you can always continue to improve and become whatever you think is the perfect person.
Except you can’t. We have limits and make mistakes. There’s nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself, but there’s a difference between improving yourself and perfecting yourself.
When you find that you can’t become perfect and compare yourself to people who seem to have zero problems becoming perfect, you stop working on genuine improvement and start wondering what’s so wrong with you that you can’t be perfect.
You might need therapy to learn how to stop feeling like something’s wrong with you, and that’s perfectly okay. There’s nothing wrong with that.
However, there are some things you can do on your own or in conjunction with therapy that might help.
In today’s social-media-driven world, we get bombarded with images of people’s perfect lives: The ideal kids, the perfect vacation, the gorgeous home, everything.
Think about what’s behind the scenes, though. Kids who won’t do what they’re told, a house that needs a new roof and paychecks that don’t quite stretch far enough, and problems at work. The very same issues you have.
You probably know people who make more money than you do, look better than you, or seem healthier than you. Instead of trying to be them, set your own goals, and don’t worry about what they’re doing.
If you lost your job tomorrow, what would you think? Would you feel scared and angry? Most of us would. You need to allow yourself to feel those things. They’re normal.
When you force yourself to be positive about it, like saying, “It’s for the best. I’ll find something even better,” your feelings will get worse and damage your confidence.
That’s confidence you need to find a new job. It’s the same with other events that bring up bad feelings, whether big or small. While your thoughts control your emotions, you shouldn’t force all your “bad” thoughts away just to stay positive.
Your inner critic is that voice that tells you you aren’t worth it. You’ll never be successful; you’ll never find love, and you’ll never have friends you can trust. It tells you that you aren’t good at anything, even when others say you the opposite.
When you let your inner critic rule, you feel self-loathing. You even choose friends who help to reinforce those feelings because somewhere, deep down, you don’t believe you deserve to have people in your life who care about you.
This might be one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. However, through introspection (with or without therapy, depending on your specific situation), you can identify your inner critic’s sources and respond to it with more realistic views of yourself. It is possible to learn to love yourself as you are.
When others challenge our view of ourselves, we tend to dismiss them out of hand, regardless of whether their opinions are better or worse than our own. We have a cognitive bias that prevents us from accepting views that differ from our own.
The problem is, other people can see you more objectively than you can see yourself. However, when you’re asking yourself, “What the fuck is wrong with me,” whether in general or relative to a specific situation, try asking someone else that question.
If you keep your defenses down and listen to what they have to say, you might hear something that rings true. At the same time (which makes this especially hard), others see you through the lenses of their own perceptions.
Ask several people for their opinions if you can and see if a common theme emerges. But don’t accept their opinions as gospel. Instead, work to reconcile theirs with your own.
Asking yourself, “What the fuck is wrong with me?”, is normal. It only becomes a problem when it starts ruling your life.
You can learn to stop asking that question because chances are, nothing is actually wrong with you. Whether toxic positivity, perfectionism, or something else is the root of the problem, the important part is taking the steps to overcome these bad habits.