It’s not uncommon in life to find yourself constantly asking the question: what is wrong with me?
Everyday, negativity finds a way to creep into our lives. These thoughts are unforgiving, consistent, irrational, and often the easiest for us to latch onto.
It’s important to remember that we can’t rid ourselves of the “what is wrong with me” feeling. Our brain is like a wild animal in the woods — you never quite know which way it’s going to run.
All we can do is focus on the things that are within our control:
- We can take consistent action towards our goals
- We can choose to adopt good daily habits that positively impact our life.
- We can choose to keep our body and mind healthy through daily exercise
- We can choose to accept that our brain isn’t a perfect organ, and often serves up thoughts that are completely irrational
If you stumbled upon this article because you’re looking for a secret hack to rid yourself of all negativity, then you’re in the wrong place.
However, if you’re here because you want to figure out how to reduce the impact of your inner critic and live a more meaningful life, then you’re exactly where you need to be.
Let’s get into some of the best ways to manage the what is wrong with me mindset so you can take back control of your life.
How Do You Know When Something Is Wrong With You?
As we’ve just talked about, the brain is an irrational organ. That’s why it’s not always easy to determine the validity of the “what is wrong with me” feeling that eats at you on a daily basis.
There will always be things about your life that you wish were better. No matter how steady things seem, you’re always going to have that little voice urging you to become more, do more, and achieve more.
So here’s the question you have to answer when you’re constantly hearing “what is wrong with me” in the back of your mind:
Is this voice just nagging me to be a nuisance, or is it a sign that there’s something deeply wrong with the way that I’m living my life?
If you’re fairly happy with the direction of your life, and you’re just feeling pressure to continue making progress, then you shouldn’t buy into the story that voice is trying to get you to believe.
However, if you’ve been hearing this voice for years, and it’s consistently pointing to the same flaws and insecurities, then you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands. You really need to be cognizant of a negative that appears to be stuck on repeat.
“I should be working out more often” is a lot different than:
“Why haven’t I taken any action at the gym? I’ve tried so many different workouts but can’t seem to stick with any of them for longer than a couple weeks. I’m tired of wishing I was in better shape. What is wrong with me?
This is the kind of voice that will only grow more powerful in the absence of any meaningful action.
6 Solutions To Combat The “What Is Wrong With Me?” Mindset
The what is wrong with me mindset is going to be present in your life until the day you die.
When you accept that fact, it becomes easier to change. You can’t remove it or erase it, but you can control how you respond to this voice.
Taking meaningful action alleviates the burden that this feeling has on your overall life-satisfaction.
Here’s 6 practical action-based solutions for silencing your inner critic and improving the quality of your life.
#1: Adopt A Keystone Habit
There’s an infinite number of habits that you can facilitate getting out of a rut, but keystone habits are the holy grail.
Keystone habits create a domino effect in your life — they deliver the greatest return on the energy that you invest into behavior change.
Essentially, the idea behind keystone habits is that they affect multiple facets of your life unintentionally.
Take exercise for example. If you go to the gym regularly, an obvious byproduct of that habit is getting in better shape and losing weight.
However, that’s really just the first domino. Regular exercise boosts your energy levels, meaning that people who exercise are typically more productive.
Exercise has also been proven to improve mood and self-esteem levels, which means you’ll feel more positive throughout the day.
People often report that getting in better shape coincides with eating healthier. It turns out that a juicy Big Mac from McDonalds doesn’t look as appetizing when you feel like it will erase some of the progress you’re making at the gym.
See how that works? At no point were you trying to improve your productivity or start eating healthier — but regular exercise set off a chain reaction that allowed these changes to take shape.
So if you’re stuck in the what is wrong with me mindset and wondering where to start, keystone habits are a great way to begin to get your life back on track.
Exercise is certainly one of the most well-known keystone habits out there, but here are a few other suggestions that you can’t go wrong with:
- Keeping A Food Journal
- Keeping a Monthly Budget/Paying Off Debt
- Getting 8 Hours Of Sleep Every Night
- Doing Your Hardest Task First Every Morning
If you want to learn more about keystone habits and the role they play in your personal development, feel free to check out this article below:
- Related Article: Keystone Habits: The Quickest Way To Change Your Life
#2: Address Your Biggest Demon
I’m guessing that if you regularly find yourself wondering “what is wrong with me?” there’s a 300 pound weight that you’ve been carrying around for far too long.
Maybe it’s the fact that you have social anxiety, and haven’t done a thing to address it for several years.
Maybe it’s the fact that you’ve been talking about starting your own business for years, but can’t find the courage to leave your 9-5.
Maybe it’s the fact that you hit the snooze button each morning and start every single day playing catch up.
We all have it — that pain-in-the-ass that just doesn’t leave you alone. You wake up with it and you walk around with it. It eats at you on an hourly basis, practically begging you to start taking action.
This is called your biggest demon. And based on my personal experience, it deserves the biggest culprit of that voice telling you that you’re not good enough.
Whatever it is, (and you probably already know) use this moment as the wake-up call that you need to start fixing it.
Identify your biggest demon and commit to one daily habit that will address it. Don’t bother with trying to make giant leaps and bounds — your biggest demon is likely a byproduct of years of inaction, so start small.
Set the bar ridiculously low and ensure you hit that target every day. These “small wins” are so crucial because they arm you with the forward momentum necessary to start reaching higher.
With each day you book as a win, that 300 pound weight gets lighter. More importantly, you’ll actually start believing in yourself and your ability to take control of your life.
#3: Focus On Small Progress
One of the biggest reasons that we find ourselves unhappy is because we overestimate our own willpower and underestimate the difficulty of change.
Let me know if this story sounds familiar:
You feel a giant wave of motivation to change your life. You ride that big wave of motivation and set huge, Mount Everest like goals, vowing to do whatever it takes to achieve them.
And at first, things are going pretty well. For the first few days, perhaps the first couple of weeks, you’re running on motivational jetfuel and taking the necessary action.
But inevitably, that motivation fades. Suddenly, you’ve gotta rely on pure discipline and willpower to meet those lofty daily targets.
As a result, you start missing days — your forward momentum stagnates and taking action becomes increasingly difficult. You still want to achieve that Mount Everest like goal, but the newness has worn off, it’s lost its shine. Instead of motivating you, it serves as a constant reminder of how far you are from your desired future.
At a certain point, your progress comes to a complete standstill. You begin to question yourself and say things like, “What is wrong with me? Why don’t I have the self-discipline required to achieve my goals?”
This is where most people find themselves — stuck on the self-improvement hamster wheel of setting big goals and never achieving them.
If you don’t change things up, this could be the cycle that defines your life.
Most people fall into the what is wrong with me mindset when this occurs. In reality, there’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just their system that’s flawed.
The key to consistent progress towards worthwhile goals is found in small daily disciplines.
You’ve gotta fall in love with small wins — the actions that don’t seem to make much difference on any given day.
If you want to get in the best shape of your life, don’t vow to work out five times per week. Start by saying that you’re going to do five pushups every single day.
If you’re aiming to write that book you’ve always wanted to write, don’t tell yourself that you’re gonna write for two hours per day. Just commit to ten minutes per day of focused writing.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly five pushups turns into twenty, and how ten minutes of writing turns into 90. And you’ll be even more shocked by how these small daily disciplines compound over time to yield incredible results.
Lasting change comes from consistent action, and in most cases, consistent action is only possible when you have the courage to aim low enough.
#4: Address Your Biggest Escape Loops
Another big reason why you might be saying what is wrong with me all the time is because you’re doing everything possible to escape reality.
In other words, you’re addicted to escape loops. An escape loop simply is a behavior that you engage in to disconnect from your responsibilities and avoid stress.
For example, you may binge-watch Netflix in order to avoid focused work. You may reach for a cigarette whenever you feel stressed. You may stay up late watching Youtube or checking social media in order to feel stimulated instead of getting a good night’s sleep.
We all deserve downtime and the ability to recharge our batteries. The problem with escape loops is that we often know these behaviors are wrong in the moment, yet still follow through on them anyway.
Escape loops provide a temporary reprieve from whatever we’re trying to avoid. But in the long-run, constantly retreating to them further increases the level of stress and anxiety that we feel day to day.
If you can identify these escape loops and fix them, you’ll start breaking free from the cycle of self-sabotage that these loops can create.
One of the best ways to combat escape loops is through substitution. Substitution is a process by which you change your response to the feelings/circumstances that precede your escape loops.
You simply pick an alternative habit that takes the place of whatever behavior you want to remove.
For example, when you feel stressed and feel the urge to reach for a cigarette, you can quickly drop down and do three push ups.
When you feel a sense of dread about the work you have to do, you can commit to working on the task for 60 seconds instead of turning on Netflix.
With enough repetitions, these substitute habits take the place of your escape loop because you’re giving your brain a new internal script to follow — “When I feel X, I will do X.”
- Doing three pushups becomes the new default response to the feelings of stress that would have previously made you reach for a cigarette.
- Working for 60 seconds becomes the new default response to the feelings of stress that would have previously led you to procrastinate.
So what are your biggest escape loops? Where do you constantly see yourself sacrificing discipline and opting for short-term pleasure?
Identify them and try out the substitution process outlined above. The quality of your life will improve significantly when you stop knowingly self-sabotaging your growth.
#5: Stop Paying Attention To Highlight Reels
One of the key ways that we make judgments about ourselves is through comparison.
In psychology, this is known as social comparison theory. This theory suggests that we have an instinct to evaluate ourselves, and one of the key ways that we accomplish this is by using other people as a measuring stick.
In certain situations, these comparisons can be helpful. For example, a basketball player might evaluate their skills in comparison to the other players on their team. This comparison offers useful information as to what they need to improve in order to excel past their peers.
However, the world we live in today has complicated the efficacy of this theory as a tool for personal growth.
In today’s world, We’re constantly bombarded with snippets from the lives of other people, for better or worse. Whenever open up Instagram or Facebook, it can be easy to think things like:
- “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I look that good?
- Why don’t I have that many friends?
- Why can’t I go on vacations all of the time?
- Why can’t my life be more like his/hers?”
And therein lies the root of the problem — we start comparing the reality of our life to the highlight reels of everyone else.
The truth is that the digital snippets of other people’s lives are just that, snippets. Because we can’t pierce the veil behind a perfectly curated Instagram, we make assumptions that other people simply have it better.
If we could see into the day to day behind the people that we put on a pedestal, we may not feel so inferior or guilty about our own life.
We’re using social media, at least in part, to gain some sort of validation. I am. You are. Everyone is.
There’s no shame in admitting it — we’re all posting the highlights of our lives to add a little window dressing to our self-image.
Realize this when you’re scrolling your social media feed wondering, “What is wrong with me? Why does everyone else’s life look exciting and adventurous, while mine seems boring and dull?”
We’re all just trying to figure it out as we go. We’re all fighting internal battles that 99% of people know nothing about.
#6: Go To Bed Earlier & Wake Up Earlier
Remember earlier when we talked about the idea of keystone habits? Well, this is one of those habits.
The impact of a predictable, consistent sleep schedule cannot be understated. If you’re stuck with the what is wrong with me mindset, it’s possible that a lack of sleep and/or a wildly inconsistent sleep schedule is to blame.
We all know that sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it directly affects our emotional state as well.
One study conducted by David Dinges analyzed participants’ mood after being exposed to “high” and “low ” performance demands that were designed to bring about feelings of stress.
Participants were broken into two groups — one group of people were sleep deprived and the others were well-rested.
The study found that the sleep deprived group responded to the “low stressors” in the same way that the well-rested responded to the “high stressors.”
In plainer terms, the results showed that we tend to have less control over our emotional state when we don’t get enough sleep. We just become more fragile — external events seem to take a bigger toll on us when we haven’t gotten our eight hours.
Just like most of you reading this, I’ve been in dozens of ruts throughout my life. I’ve been stuck with the what is wrong with me mindset over and over again.
You want to know what the common theme is in all of those periods of my life? I was getting to bed late and waking up late. Yep. Every. Single. One.
That’s because of the fact that it’s one of my keystone habits — when my sleep schedule is out of whack, every other area of my life takes a hit.
- I start the day hating myself for being the lazy bum who’s starting their day at 11
- Everything on my to-do list gets pushed back because I’m starting the day behind the 8-ball
- Because I’m starting the day behind the 8-ball, I’m more likely to sacrifice my 90 minute gym session to play catch up on work.
- During my work sessions, I find myself wrestling with a stronger than usual urge to engage in distractions or even stop working altogether and throw on some Netflix.
That’s how one simple fuck-up can impact everything about your day.
So if you want to get yourself out of a funk and get motivated again, maybe it’s best to start with simple things like your sleep schedule.
Because it’s widely considered to be a keystone habit, you’ll likely experience significantly more benefits than just getting some extra Z’s each night.
When you find yourself constantly questioning, “what is wrong with me?”, it feels like the easiest thing in the world to let this feeling push you further into self-sabotage.
But no matter how pressure you feel to succumb to this feeling, there’s always a way forward. The antidote to feeling inadequate is progress — we feel our best when we’re making progress towards our goals or slaying our biggest demons.
The size of this progress doesn’t need to be magnanimous as long as it’s consistent. If you stack small wins up day after day, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll find yourself in a far better place 3-6 months from now.