Why Do I Suck At Everything? 5 Tips To Erase This Feeling

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In life, there are certain times when your internal dialogue is permeated with one common refrain: Why do I suck at everything?

Deep down, you know you don’t suck at everything. But knowing this doesn’t help you find any peace when you’re constantly battered by these kinds of self-defeating thoughts.

Our brain conjures thoughts on a daily basis — some containing powerful insights about your life and others that are gross exaggerations and have no basis in reality.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking these thoughts from time to time, it’s only when you latch onto them that things start to spiral out of control. When you let this mindset drive the kinds of conversations you have with yourself, you can find yourself in a pretty dark place.

In this article, we’ll talk about the reasons why the why do I suck at everything mindset is easy to latch onto, along with actionable strategies for getting out of your own head and feeling alive again.

Why You Feel Like You Suck At Everything

It’s basically impossible to suck at everything in life. Regardless of how dejected you feel or the strength of your negative thoughts, you’re just like everyone else in the sense that you’re a mix of good and bad.

The problem with your brain is that it likes to focus on the negative aspects of your character as opposed to the positive.

We all want to develop a more positive self-image, but the space between our ears is the biggest impediment to making this happen.

The culprit of this is called negativity bias, and it’s directly responsible for the constant voice in your head telling you, “Why do I suck at everything?”

Negativity bias states that due to our brain’s wiring, we place more emphasis on negative outcomes than positive ones. Simply by default, our negative experiences tend to stand out the most, therefore leading to an imbalance in our internal dialogue.

Pleasant experiences stay in our brain the same way you might stay in a hotel for a business trip. — one moment they’re there, the next moment they’re gone.

On the other hand, unpleasant experiences tend to linger.  The swarm of negativity we feel when we embarrass ourselves in front of our friends or lose our job lasts much longer than the positive halo of getting coffee with an old friend.

The point is this — it’s completely normal to be negative. If we didn’t develop this bias at some point in our evolution, we may not even exist right now. 

In order to survive, our ancestors needed to be on constant alert for potential danger. The world they lived in was far more unpredictable than ours, meaning this inherent bias was an asset that promoted survival.

That’s why negativity seems so hard to shake — it’s a deeply ingrained survival instinct, a product of evolution. So if you ever catch yourself thinking, “Why do I suck at everything?” you don’t have anything to worry about.

There’s nothing wrong with you unless you consider having a perfectly normal human brain to be a bad thing. What you do need to watch out for is how you respond to these thoughts, and the potential ripple effects of letting this thought become a believable story.

The Problem With Latching Onto “Why Do I Suck At Everything?”

Once again, the problem here is not the act of thinking, “Why do I suck at everything?” Because you have a normal human brain, this thought will enter your conscious mind from time to time.

The problem is giving into this thought and accepting it as truth. The problem is failing to see this thought for what it actually isa minor nuisance designed to instill an irrational, overtly negative self-image.

If the story you tell yourself about who you are grows increasingly negative, everything else in life becomes more difficult:

  • You’ll find it harder to make friends because you don’t believe you add value to the lives of those around you.
  • You’ll find it harder to take risks and leave your comfort zone because you don’t trust your ability to handle uncertainty.
  • You’ll struggle to advance professionally because you’re walking around with the underlying belief that you don’t deserve success.
  • You’ll regress back into bad habits and self-sabotage because you’re constantly feeling lost in life and need an escape.

As your sense of self-image becomes more convoluted, the “why do I suck at everything” mindset begins to dictate more and more of your day to day. And compounded over time, this leads people to some pretty dark places.

Yes, negativity does have a place in self-improvement. It’s important to be self-aware and recognize your insecurities, because that’s the first step to fixing them. Yet, it becomes a million times harder to address these insecurities when your own brain is telling you that you can’t, or that you shouldn’t even try.

5 Ways To Overcome The Why Do I Suck At Everything Mindset

Now that we’ve covered the psychological side of the why do I suck at everything mindset, let’s talk about five ways to reduce the emotional turmoil associated with this mindset.

Most of these strategies revolve around one central idea — taking control of your internal dialogue. 

If you can tell yourself a positive story in the face of negativity, you’ll possess a skill that will make reinventing your life far easier.

whiteboard with smiley faces on it

#1: Accept That You’re Going To Suck At Things

When it comes to your character, there are varying degrees of flaws that you’re going to have to deal with. 

Some of these flaws will be minor in nature, and therefore not have much impact on the quality of your life. Others will be more significant these are the types of flaws that wreak havoc on your internal dialogue.

If you want to start adopting self-compassion into your life, you’ve gotta let some of these minor flaws go and accept that you can’t be good at everything.

You may be embarrassed about the fact that you’re not a good dancer, or that you’re a little forgetful, or that you tend to talk too fast when speaking to other people, etc. 

But seriously, who do you know that’s a perfect human being? Is there anyone you know that does everything right and has zero weaknesses? 

Of course there isn’t! So why are you holding yourself to the same standard?

I think one of the many reasons people get trapped in the why do I suck at everything mindset is because they’re trying to chase perfection — the elusive, unattainable ideal of the person who’s got it all figured out.

If you want to feel comfortable in your own skin, you’ve gotta accept that there are things you’re going to suck at. The question you need to ask yourself is — Does this thing I suck at represent a major obstacle to achieving my most ambitious goals?

If it doesn’t, then simply let it go! Accept the fact that you’re not the smoothest operator on the dance floor. Accept the fact that you can be a little forgetful sometimes. You’ll find power in letting go of the need to be a superstar in every arena of life.

On the other hand, if a particular insecurity represents a massive obstacle to achieving your most ambitious goals, then that’s something that deserves your attention and focus.

These are typically called your “biggest demons,” and we’ll talk about them next.

boy feeling embarrased

#2: Make Progress On Your Biggest Demons

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “Damn, if I could just fix {insert character flaw here} my life would be so much better?”

Well, these types of thoughts typically revolve around your biggest demons — the most undesirable characteristics you possess that urgently require your attention. 

It’s likely that you’ve tried and failed multiple times to address these insecurities. They’re the types of character flaws that dominate your internal dialogue, and are typically the biggest drivers of the why do I suck at everything mindset.

There’s no way around it — addressing these demons is a long, grueling journey. However, psychology tells us that we don’t need to wait until we’ve slayed these demons in order to feel better about who we are — the mere act of making forward progress is enough.

One study conducted by researchers at Harvard University surveyed over 200 employees at seven different companies over the course of four months. At the end of each day, the survey participants were asked to complete a general survey about their overall mood.

The researchers noticed something interesting when analyzing the “best” and “worst” days of the participants in terms of their overall mood:

They found that “best days” typically correlated with making progress towards a meaningful goal. 76% of their best days resulted from taking action on something that was important to them.

This study highlights the effectiveness of progress as an emotional halo — we feel our best when we’re moving towards the person we want to become.

We don’t need to wait until our transformation is complete, forward progress helps us feel good in the present, and serves as motivation for future progress.

Drawing on my anecdotes from my own struggles, this idea seems to hold water. 

For years, my biggest demon was social anxiety. I was deeply uncomfortable in social situations, had no idea how to talk to women, and struggled to form deep personal relationships. 

As a result, my life was more or less being driven by insecurity and fear. However, as I began the pain-staking, private work of addressing my social anxiety, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. 

When I did something small that aligned with my desired identity, such as saying hello to someone, talking to a stranger, or complimenting an attractive woman — my inner critic seemed to be less involved in my internal dialogue.

It felt like my brain was telling me “Yes, you still suck at this whole socializing thing, but today you made some progress so we’ll give you a break from your inner critic.”

The lesson here is that each positive action you take matters. Each decision you make that aligns with your ideal self quiets the incessant voice telling you that you’re not good enough.

You don’t just cut this voice down with one monumental change, it gets drowned bit by bit, day by day, decision by decision.

And after months of repeated action, you’ll find yourself asking, “Where did that voice go? I can barely hear it anymore.”

dark orange demon

#3: Write Down 5 Things You Like About Yourself

Given that it’s human nature for our personal commentary to be negative, we need to implement positive habits to offset this predisposition to negativity.

One such habit that will promote optimism is daily reinforcement of the positive aspects of your own character. 

We tend to get so overwhelmed by our insecurities on a daily basis that we never stop and think, “Hey, I’m actually pretty good at X,” or “Wow, I’ve actually learned how to develop self-discipline in that area of my life.”.

Letting your brain run the show and providing no resistance to negative self-talk is akin to a court battle where only one side gets to make an argument — you need an opposing view in order to get the full picture of who you are. 

Here’s a simple daily exercise that will instill self-confidence by reinforcing the positive aspects of your character.

  • Each morning, take out a pen and paper/open a note on your phone
  • Write down five positive traits you possess.
  • Be honest and don’t lie to yourself. Even if it’s small stuff that you do well, it’s all important.
  • Precede each statement with “I’m proud of the fact that….”
  • Ex: (I’m proud of the fact that I’m a good friend, I’m proud of the fact that I make time for the gym regularly)

Whenever you feel yourself doubting your worth, take out this list and look at it. Remind yourself that you’re human, and that you’re allowed to have flaws.

But also remind yourself of just how damn good you are, because no matter how you slice it we’re all works in progress.

journal sitting on a desk

#4: Practice Cognitive Reframing

Another powerful tool for taking control of your internal dialogue is the idea of reframing. This article courtesy of Amy Lorin provides a clear-cut definition of what reframing is:

“The essential idea behind reframing is that the frame through which a person views a situation determines their point of view. When that frame is shifted, the meaning changes and thinking and behavior often change with it.”

For most people who struggle with the why do I suck at everything mindset, negativity is a recurring theme that manifests itself in a variety of different situations.

They view situations through a certain lens that’s colored by their habitual thinking patterns. If these habitual thinking patterns are negative, it’s likely that their view of a particular situation will slant that way as well.

The more you can practice looking at things from a positive perspective, the quicker you can train your brain to focus on the good at any given moment.

Here’s a practical framework for implementing the habit of positive reframes:

  • Whenever you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about a particular situation, try to do a complete 180 degree turn
  • Use self-talk to take whatever negative emotional response you’re currently having and shift it to a positive emotional response
  • Sample Situation: A stranger says something rude to you at a social gathering and you start to feel like whatever they said is a reflection on you. 
  • Reframe the situation by saying, “He/she may just be going through something. And what he/she said is not a reflection on me, it’s a reflection on them.”

The cool part about reframing is that you’ll never run out of opportunities to practice. Each day, you’ll be faced with dozens of scenarios where you can implement positive self-talk to change the story that you tell yourself.

With each repetition, you’ll find it easier to let negative thoughts go and move towards a less noisy, more positive lifestyle.

human reframing thoughts to combat the why do i suck at everything mindset

#5: Learn The Art Of Detaching From Your Thoughts

Let me paint a scenario for you involving two different people.

Adam and Emily are each working alone on difficult projects. At a certain point during their workflow, they both sense some negative commentary bubbling up in their conscious mind:

“Why is this so hard? I barely feel like I’m making any progress, why do I suck at sitting down and getting the hard stuff done?”

  • Adam hears these thoughts and decides to detach from them. He recognizes them as a futile attempt to pull his distraction away from the present moment, so he counters with some self-talk of his own: “There goes the I’m not good enough story. Thanks, mind! Now back to work.” 
  • Emily hears these thoughts and can’t seem to shake them. Instead of brushing them off, she leans into them. Latching onto these thoughts creates a domino effect as other insecurities permeate her conscious mind with the sole goal of decreasing her self-worth.

Now ask yourself: When negative thoughts pop into your mind, which person are you more like? Adam or Emily?

I think that it’s safe to say that 95% of people reading this would say they’re like Emily — letting negative thoughts take hold without any resistance.

Now here’s why this is so damaging to your internal dialogue — it’s usually not the first negative thought that leads to intense self-loathing, it’s the stream of thoughts that come after.

If you can cut off these thoughts before they really sink their teeth into you, then you’ll start consciously shifting the story of who you are and what you believe.

The technique that Adam deployed above is referred to as detachment, which defines a state of non-judgemental awareness of your thoughts and feelings. 

Detachment isn’t about fighting your negative thoughts, it’s about pointing out their absurdity without judging yourself for having them.

So each time you catch yourself thinking “Why do I suck at everything?” just accept the thought and move on:

“Ah, there goes the I suck at everything story again! Thanks, mind! Now back to the present moment.”

You’ll find that this technique will help you push back against the relentless voice that tries to diminish your self-image.

man walking on a path

Final Thoughts

Why do I suck at everything? This grossly exaggerated thought doesn’t discriminate. It attacks everyone, regardless of race, age, background, economic status, etc.

Because despite our many differences, we all have the same brain — the one that evolved to use negativity bias as a survival tool so that we could pass our genes onto the next generation.

You’re never going to be able to erase negative thoughts completely, but in today’s world controlling your response to them is enough to win the battle against your mind.

Combine that with meaningful action aimed at addressing your biggest demons, and there are no limits to what you can accomplish with the time you’ve been given.

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