If you’ve been asking yourself “what’s wrong with me?” — hold on a minute.
Remember that your feelings, experiences, and thoughts are all valid. That being said, life can suck. A lot of factors can make us feel broken, dumb, or just plain shitty.
Here’s a list of common feelings that make us think “what’s wrong with me?” and how to fix them.
Read through them all, or click to be taken to your current struggle.
- I feel like I’m drowning.
- I sleep 12 hours a day.
- I can’t think straight.
- My body feels bad.
- I feel alone with friends.
- I hate my parents.
- My family doesn’t understand me.
- I can’t get over my ex.
- I can’t find a significant other.
- Work makes me anxious.
- Nothing goes my way.
- Nobody listens to me.
And in the meantime, make sure you’re asking yourself the right question. There might be a more productive alternative than “What’s wrong with me?”
I feel like I’m drowning.
You may be trying to do too much, or you may not be giving your brain the opportunity to reset.
Habits like not sleeping or not engaging with your thoughts can lead to dissociation or cognitive breakdown.
When this happens, we need to have a go-to “calm down” procedure. Having someone talk you through it (for free) can help, but it’s also important to have a plan for when you’re alone.
You can start your ritual in three simple steps.
Identify a “calm-down” technique. This can be anything that gives you some space from the overwhelming thoughts: a walk, a shower, free-writing whatever comes to mind, or venting to a friend.
Have a plan to institute your chosen technique. Decide when you’ll engage in your calm-down activity: “Once I’m feeling x, I’ll do y.” Catch yourself when you need to calm down, and practice your calming technique consistently.
Keep your calm-down technique in your back pocket. Write a reminder on your hand. Or set your phone to tell you to check in with yourself. Part of the difficulty in keeping calm is just remembering you have tools to feel better!
Now, whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or dissociated, you’ll immediately have a go-to technique in mind that is associated with feelings of calm and peace.
I sleep 12 hours a day.
The bed is a place for rest, relaxation, and recuperation — RRR. So it makes sense that no one wants to leave it.
It’s even harder when you have to do stuff once you get up. The pressure pushes your eyes closed, and you fall back asleep, spending half your day or more in bed.
Sleeping all day doesn’t even feel good. It’s appealing to avoid the bad stuff by closing your eyes, but you know it’s always worse when you try to get up. The to-do’s pile into a mountain.
So how can you stop feeling like something is wrong with you? How can you convince yourself to get up, do what you have to do, and live your life?
Ride the motivation train.
Moving forward is easier when you think of it as a chain. This chain represents the concept of ‘behavioral activation.’
Once you knock one domino over, the rest naturally follow — it’s the simple concept of inertia. Start your morning with one consistent, concrete goal, whether it’s making coffee, eating breakfast, stretching, or anything else.
Once you’re up and moving, you’ll find it easier to keep going.
Keep things consistent.
Inconsistent sleep schedules increase tiredness, which makes you want to stay in bed even longer. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
Also try to limit your sleep to 8-10 hours — we all know that sleeping too little makes us tired, but sleeping too much will do the same!
Plan regular rest and relaxation times to hold out for.
The when: plan some rest time between your activity periods throughout the day.
Some people prefer the classic Pomodoro technique in which you work for 25 minutes and rest for 5. Others look forward to long lunches and dinners. Still others prefer more unstructured time with a goal of 3, 4, or 5 rest periods during random intervals in the day.
The what: think about what you want to do during your RRR time.
Some ideas: taking a walk, sitting outside, reading, taking a shower, and stretching. Our favorite is to do a little venting with supportive people.
Do whatever makes you feel good — just try to avoid getting back in bed!
Once you’re out of bed, check out this guide to get yourself out of the house.
I can’t think straight.
Brain fog — everywhere. You try to work, but you can’t untangle your thoughts. You try to relax, but you can’t clear your mind. If you can’t think straight, it’s easy to feel like: “What the heck is wrong with me???”
It’s time to take a brain inventory.
Step one in the process is to self-monitor: we need to take a few moments and break our general sense of brain fog into bite-sized pieces.
- Separate mind from body — Monitor what’s going on in your body. Are you tired? Restless? Sore? Take note of how your body feels, and set that aside for now.
- Notice the trends of where your mind wanders — It’s too difficult to separate every single thought we have, but we can divide them up into trends. Are you most often thinking about work, friends, family, stress, your daily schedule, your future, or something else?
- Once you identify what’s crowding up most of your brain fog, you can start there. Think of practical ways to address your main concern; for example, calling a friend, reorganizing your daily to-do list, or taking some time to research career paths.
The process of sorting out your thoughts can be a source of stress in itself. To solve: intersect your self-monitor with head-clearing activities.
For me, this is most often getting fresh air. For others, it could be a refreshing shower, a healthy snack, or letting it all out to an understanding person.
My body feels bad.
When something’s wrong with you physically, it’s often not in your control.
However, aside from going to the doctor, treating your body as well as possible can help it feel less bad. You guessed it: Self-care time!
Time to look at your habits and how you can show yourself better love.
Sleeping: Keep your sleep/wake schedule as consistent as you can. Remove distracting items from your room at night, such as unnecessary lights and sounds. Limit use of electronics right before bed.
Eating: You can’t easily change your entire diet, but you can take some small steps toward healthier eating. Increase your intake of fiber and protein. Limit snacking. Try not to eat right before bed.
Exercise: You don’t have to become a gym rat. Start small. Stretch every morning. Try to take a walk every day. Do a few squats, sit-ups, and planks.
Health: If you’re feeling bad, go to the doctor. There’s no harm in checking up on your body with a professional. It doesn’t make you weak or overly concerned.
It’s not uncommon to have a vitamin deficiency, a sleep quality issue, or a question about your diet that a doctor can help with.
While these might be “something wrong,” they’re not fundamental issues with who you are. And you can easily take action to make yourself feel better!
I feel alone, even with friends.
First, you’ll want to understand where your loneliness is coming from. It’s not something wrong with you.
But unfortunately, we often can’t just “think” our way out of feeling lonely — our brains don’t work that way. So what can we do?
Figure out the root of your loneliness. Ask yourself these questions: 1) Do I have enough connections to friends and family? 2) Are the connections I do have quality connections? 3) Do I feel like something else is missing even when others are around?
You may need to work on meeting new people or increasing the quality of the relationships you already have. This is an “other”-focused approach.
Alternatively, you may feel like you already have loved ones who care about you, but it’s not enough. In this case, you may want to work on growing and fulfilling yourself. This is a “self”-focused approach.
Use Either the “Other” or “Self” Route of Communication
The “others” route: reach out and communicate your needs.
- Be honest with others about what you want from them. Use the sandwich technique: 1 compliment, 1 request, and 1 more compliment. An example could look like this:
- “I really appreciate how you’re always excited to spend time with me, but I’m wondering if we can start talking a little bit more about what’s going on in our lives. I think it will make us even closer considering how much we care about each other already.”
The “self” route: develop yourself, your interests, and your purpose.
- Brainstorm/research some fulfilling habits you can do to decrease your feelings of loneliness. Some examples: gardening, cooking, sewing, DIY crafts, or reading. All of these can provide a sense of purpose or fulfillment that others can’t quite provide.
I hate my parents.
A hard truth: Some of our parents are narcissists.
A harder truth: If you were raised by narcissists, they might have “brainwashed” you to feel like they’re always good and that bad things are always your fault.
This can leave you feeling like there’s no reason for your bad feelings toward them, and can consequently increase feelings of guilt, resentment, and anger that have no outlet.
Most often when we believe there is something inherently wrong with us, it’s because of the messages our parents sent in childhood.
If this sounds like your situation, check out Supportiv’s guide on identifying narcissism and recovering from it.
I don’t feel loved or understood by my family.
Maybe your parents aren’t narcissists, but that doesn’t mean they’re without their fair share of issues. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to feel less like there’s something wrong with you, even when your family isn’t the most supportive.
Find other ways to connect with your family.
Maybe communication isn’t the best, but can you increase quality time? Quietly watching TV with your mom might be better than nothing. And who knows — with more time spent together, maybe the talking part becomes a little easier.
Find others to listen.
If your parents can’t be there for you in the way you need, find other support networks. Friends, grandparents, social media, or online support groups usually do the trick.
Be ok with some separation.
Many people feel guilty if they don’t have a great relationship with their family. After all, they’re family.
But it’s easy to forget the flipside: you’re also an individual. The only person you owe anything to is yourself. Your family can jumpstart your growth and development, but the rest is up to you.
Be excited to be your own person, choose your own connections, and make your own mistakes. Be you.
If you’re still feeling alone, check out these relatable quotes about dysfunctional families.
I can’t get over my ex.
Everybody moves on differently, but there are some things you can do to help yourself through the process. Balance indulgence and self-care. Listen to sad music; eat some ice cream; go for a walk through the park. Talk it out with someone.
Once you’ve allowed yourself some grieving time, start thinking of some of the good things that come from your breakup.
If you’ve left an abusive ex partner, you can finally reject their brainwashing that something’s wrong with you.
Or remember that butterflies-in-your-tummy feeling you get when you first meet someone new? Not only do you have that waiting for you, but also more time for your friends and your hobbies.
You also have the freedom to live life the way you want, on your own timeline. And soon enough, someone else will join you on that journey.
I can’t find a significant other.
So you’re hoping to get back out there. Luckily, “out there” is a big place.
Don’t be afraid to approach someone at the grocery store (as long as you do it respectfully). Join clubs and meet people. Take a class. Or, join one of many dating apps that suit different individual needs.
Remember to be patient, and make sure your other relationships (with family, friends, and loved ones) are being nurtured in the meantime.
When you do meet someone, don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel. Too often we are so scared to take a risk that we lose our chance — as Wayne Gretzky (and Michael Scott) famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
How To Tell Someone How You Feel
Telling someone how you feel is perhaps one of the most anxiety-filled, but also exciting, experiences in life. Luckily, there are ways to manage the anxiety and remember you are great – nothing is wrong with you.
Step 1: Boost your confidence. Wait until you’re in high spirits to put yourself out there.
Step 2: Ease it into conversation. The awkwardness inherent in telling someone how you feel usually comes from the high level of pressure suddenly put on both sides. When that pressure comes out of nowhere, your confession becomes way scarier.
Try waiting until after they pay you a compliment, or after they initiate a hangout, or while you’re already talking about feelings. Just make it natural.
Step 3: Give them an “out.” If the person doesn’t feel the same, or if they need time to process their feelings, neither of you will have a fun time with the rest of the conversation.
Because of this, it can be really helpful to add something like “I don’t expect you to answer now,” or “We can also just wait and see how things develop naturally,” so they don’t feel required to launch into a full response right away.
Work makes me anxious.
Anti-stress techniques will be your best friend here. You can do them at your desk, in the car, or even out on the job!
- At your desk: progressive muscle relaxation, screentime breaks, essential oils (think lavender and eucalyptus)
- In the car: think of pleasant memories, listen to funny podcasts or audiobooks, sing out loud, switch into comfier clothing
- Out on the job: have a snack or candy in your pocket, chew gum, stretch, take a walk
- All of the above: breathing exercises
For a more specific approach, consider the source of your stress — Is it your coworkers? Your boss? The work tasks themselves? Is someone or something making you feel like something is wrong with you? Then either vent about it to an understanding person, or check out this guide to dealing with work anxiety no matter who (or what) is causing it.
Nothing seems to go my way.
When nothing goes right, we start to feel like life is out of our control. We then fight what’s happening, searching for any way to change things. This fight further makes us realize how little control we have, and we might resign ourselves to thinking something’s wrong with us.
No matter how hard we work or how sincere our goals are, some things are just out of our hands.
When we spend our lives trying to change something unchangeable, thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” we can never be happy.
The truth is, we need to do our best with what we can control, and accept what we can’t.
When you encounter a frustrating situation, first shift your thoughts to the aspects you can control.
- Stuck in traffic? You can’t make other cars disappear, but you can leave early so you don’t have to worry about being late.
- Bills to pay? You can’t make them go away, but you can ask for a repayment plan or readjust your finances.
- Lonely? You can’t manifest a significant other out of thin air, but you can spend more time with your friends.
If you always focus on the parts you can’t control (I hate traffic, I have too many bills, I’m so lonely), it will only make you feel worse. If you instead focus on what you can change (leaving early, refinancing, spending time with friends), you’ll regain a sense of agency in your life.
An alternative mindset…
Of course, it’s unreasonable to expect ourselves to never think about the things we can’t control. However, when we do think about them, we can try to change our perspective. We need to adopt and acceptance and growth mindset.
Sometimes, horrible things will happen, and there’s honestly nothing we can do about them. But once we realize that ruminating on the bad things doesn’t do anything besides make us feel even more awful, we can instead accept them and move on. We can do this by viewing life’s struggles as challenges, rather than something wrong with us.
Whether you’re learning something in class or on the job, trying out a new relationship, or playing a video game, you will experience setbacks. Viewing each struggle as a challenge helps us grow into better, smarter, stronger (and happier) people.
“Nothing seems to go my way” turns into “I can handle this, too.”
Nobody listens to me.
I firmly believe that there’s nothing more important in life than connection with other people. This, of course, makes it all that much harder when those around us can’t engage and connect in a way that feels good to us.
When we feel that we aren’t being heard and understood, it can feel like something is wrong with you, even when it’s not.
On the bright side, people aren’t usually trying to hurt you; they just don’t know what you really need. We can fix this by brushing up on our communication skills.
Asserting your needs may result in a tough conversation, but it will be good for your relationships in the long run. But before you go knocking on their door, it’s helpful to practice what you want to say.
How to help others hear you:
First, write down what you want to say to the person. Read what you wrote. Pretend that you switched roles and that you’re on the receiving end of the conversation.
Could anything you wrote be perceived as hurtful? Will it lead to defensiveness that will get in the way of the real conversation? Did you assign any unfair blame?
Now rewrite what you want to say. Change any targeting “you” statements to expressive “I” statements. Shift your focus from criticisms to values. Lastly, replace any general requests with specific suggestions for change.
Here’s an example of what this process might look like:
First draft — “You never listen to me. The other day, I was talking to you about my stress at work and you interrupted me to talk about dinner. I wish you were a better listener.”
Second draft — “I really value being listened to and understood. Since I’ve been really stressed about work lately, I was wondering if we can talk a little more about that. It would mean a lot to me.”
You can guess which conversation might be more successful!
Still, there may be things going on in your life that even your closest loved ones don’t understand. If you’d rather talk to someone who can empathize with your situation, you can chat at Supportiv with like-minded peers and trained moderators who will always listen.