Have you ever thought, “What is wrong with me?” If so, you are not alone.
Nearly everyone, from time to time, has had that thought. For some, it’s a fleeting moment of self-doubt, while for others it might be a lifelong feeling of not measuring up or not being good enough. And in some cases, it may reflect the fact that you are currently in a particular set of circumstances that has you questioning whether you can make it through.
Whatever the cause of you feeling that something is wrong with you, know that there are actions you can take to start to feel better.
In addition, it’s also important not to push that feeling away when it comes. Instead of pushing your feelings away, take the time to sit with them and explore them. And if the thought of doing that feels overwhelming, consider talking to a mental health professional about what you are going through.
Why You Feel Like Something Is Wrong With You
Before we can discuss how to manage the feeling that something is wrong with you, let’s consider the possible causes. From temporary life setbacks to enduring a long physical or mental illness, there are multiple potential reasons why you might feel that something is wrong. Check the list below and see if any of these resonate with your current life circumstance.
When you think about something being wrong with you, is it mostly a feeling of being overwhelmed or that you can’t think straight? Or do you feel like you can’t keep up with all of your obligations and things you need to do?
Sometimes, the feeling that something is wrong with you might reflect that you simply have a very challenging set of life circumstances. It might mean that you have an overly demanding job, heavy family responsibilities, financial stress, or any other number of situations that would lead to feeling like you can’t keep up with the pace of life.
Do you feel somehow stuck in your life, as though everyone else has things figured out but you don’t? Or are you struggling to get over a breakup, move on from a job you hate, or free yourself of a toxic relationship?
If you have specific ideas of what your life should be like, and you feel as though you are not living the life you want, this could lead you to the thought that something is wrong with you.
A number of factors can leave you feeling alone or lonely. Perhaps you have strained relationships with family or anxiety about making new friends. Usually, feeling that there is something wrong with you because you are lonely means that you struggle to make the social connections that you want in life.
If you’ve been asking what is wrong with you, it may be the case that you are experiencing trauma or recovering from having experienced trauma. This could be obvious trauma, such as losing a loved one, being the victim of violence, or experiencing a tragic life circumstance such as a house fire.
However, trauma can also come about in more insidious ways such as living with a narcissistic abuser. Trauma in all forms can have a significant impact on your mental state; if this is what is happening for you, seeking help from a professional is usually advised.
Experiencing Physical Illness
Is your feeling of something being wrong tied to something related to your body? Whether you have a diagnosed illness and are experiencing new symptoms, or you have symptoms that have yet to be understood or diagnosed, you are probably feeling confused and worried about what is going on with your body.
In this case, it’s perfectly normal to be thinking, “What is wrong with me.” And often, the answer lies in getting to the bottom of the problem through help from a medical professional.
Lacking Self Worth
Sometimes the feeling of there being something wrong with you can originate in low self-esteem or low self-worth. Whether or not this feeling reflects reality isn’t really important; it’s your perception of yourself that impacts your mindset.
When you have a lack of self-esteem or self-worth, this will permeate every area of your life, leaving you feeling as though you don’t feel you measure up in any capacity. Often, the solution in this situation is to identify the core values underlying your self-esteem problem, which might be rooted in feelings of shame or guilt.
Facing Mental Health Issues
One last potential cause of feeling that there is something wrong with you could in fact be a diagnosable mental illness such as depression, an anxiety disorder, or a personality disorder.
Just as with a physical illness, the best course of action in these cases is to speak to a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. However, it’s also important to develop coping skills to manage your mental health on your own as much as possible.
How to Cope
Regardless of the reason for feeling as though there is something wrong with you, there are a number of things that you can do in order to reduce those feelings. Your choice of coping method will depend on the specific cause.
Plan to Calm Down
Sometimes, the thought that something is wrong with you can come on suddenly and provoke anxiety and negative emotions. In this case, the best first step is to do things that help you to calm down.
To set this in motion, put together a list of “calm down activities” that you can reference whenever this happens. Below are some ideas of things that you can put on this list of calm down activities.
Then, remember to pull it out and start working through the list whenever you start to get down on yourself or feel as though you can’t calm down.
- Go for a walk somewhere in nature.
- Write in a journal about your feelings.
- Call a supportive family member, friend, or another empathetic person.
- Write down a “to-do” list (if feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start).
- Use a meditation app such as Headspace.
- Inhale some essential oil (e.g., lavender).
- Do an online yoga class or other relaxation class.
- Read a book (something light-hearted or intriguing to take your mind off your feelings).
- Watch a favorite television show or movie (preferably one that is calming or funny, or both).
Make an Action Plan
Next, if your feelings are tied to specific problems in your life, you can make an action plan on what you will do about them. While it might feel easier to get stuck in a negative mindset, taking action on your problems will create more motivation to keep going when things get hard.
The actions that you plan to take will depend on your circumstances but could be any of the following:
- Seek help from a mental health professional.
- Find a better job or one that is better suited to your talents.
- Work to improve your relationships (e.g., family relationships, friendships, romantic relationships).
- Develop hobbies or passions (e.g., taking up a sport, learning how to knit).
- Read self-help books on topics that interest you.
- Finding an accountability partner to keep you moving forward.
Observe Your Body
Now that you’ve calmed yourself down and made an action plan to deal with the problems you are facing, it’s important going forward to monitor how you are feeling to stop a negative spiral before it gets out of control.
When you are more in tune with the feelings in your body, you’ll be better able to do things that improve your mood and outlook.
Below are some feelings you might be having and some things that you can do about them.
- Overwhelm/brain fog: Do a brain dump and make a to-do list or plan of action to take everything out of your head and put it down on paper.
- Tired: Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time each day; make sure you are getting enough sleep (not too little but also not too much).
- Restless/can’t sit still: Go for a walk or get some exercise (e.g., high-intensity interval training, treadmill walking, yoga).
- Pain/soreness: Pinpoint the problem and look for solutions (e.g., call your doctor).
- Tense/can’t relax: Practice deep breathing, practice meditation, use progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
Schedule Time to Worry
Now that you’ve started to monitor your body, you’ll also want to monitor your mind. You can do this by scheduling a worry period each day, during which you write down everything that is worrying you the most.
Then, you can either make a plan of action on how to solve each problem or change the way you are thinking about the problem (if you feel as though you are blowing it out of proportion or creating a catastrophe out of nothing).
In order to plan a worry period, select a specific time each day that you will write down all your worries. Set a time limit for your worry period, and then don’t think about your worries the rest of the day.
During the worry period, make sure that you are not just focused on the problems. Make a list of worries, come up with solutions, or change your thinking about the problems.
Practice Self Care
You should specifically schedule self-care time into your day. Self care refers to anything that keeps you feeling good (both physically and mentally). Below are some things you can do to practice good self care during your day.
- Get enough sleep (7-8 hours a day; no more than 10 or you will feel more tired).
- Eat a healthy diet (enough protein and fiber) and avoid junk food, caffeine, alcohol, etc.
- Get regular exercise, getting your high rate up as well as stretching (10,000 steps is a good goal, but 5,000 should be the minimum).
- Plan time for rest each day (e.g., take breaks if you are working in front of a computer, make sure you have screen-free time).
- Plan time for things you enjoy each day (e.g., reading your favorite book, watching a favorite television show).
- Get outside in nature (this helps you get vitamin D and take a break).
See a Mental Health Professional
Do you have a traumatic past or are you dealing with a difficult life situation? Or, do you think you may be struggling with a mental health disorder? In that case, your best course of action will be to seek out the help of a mental health professional.
Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, a personality disorder, or other issue, there are very helpful forms of treatment (including medication and talk therapy) that can make a significant difference in your life.
Medication can help you to feel better as well as make it easier to practice the skills that you will learn in therapy. Therapy can help you to dig through your past and also work on how you view your present.
Cope With Anxiety
Beyond seeking help from a mental health professional, there are also things you can do on your own if you believe you are living with anxiety. Below are some ideas to get you started.
- Take a supplement such as Ashwagandha to feel calmer. Research evidence suggests that this herb may be helpful for a number of brain disorders.1
- Use essential oils such as lavender.
- Engage in relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
- Take breaks from social media and the news.
- Read self-help books or listen to podcasts from experts on reducing anxiety.
- Get regular exercise such as going for walks, doing yoga, or stretching.
Cope With Depression
What if you are living with depression? Be sure to first see a mental health professional to see if medication or therapy may be helpful in your situation. Depression can interfere with your thinking and make you feel as though there is no use in getting help or that others have problems worse than yours and so you do not deserve help.
If that is your situation, try talking to someone about how you are feeling at the very least. See if they can make an appointment for you.
Beyond seeing a professional, here are some things you can do if you are living with depression that might make a difference.
- Avoid alcohol (alcohol is a depressant that can make depression worse).
- Get regular exercise (exercise releases endorphins that can make you feel better, if only temporarily).2
- Keep a regular sleep schedule (too much or too little sleep has been associated with depression).3
- Challenge your negative thought processes (find a self-help book about cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression to help you do this).
- Take baby steps every day (if you feel overwhelmed, try to take one small step toward whatever you are trying to accomplish; this will help you to get momentum to start moving and doing more).4
- Track your mood daily (rate it on a scale from 1 to 10, write down daily stressors).
- Keep a happiness journal (write down things you are grateful for, small successes).
While there is an ideal of happiness, it is in fact true that nobody can be happy all of the time. We will all experience good and bad times in our lives, whether that is from one day to the next, or one year to the next.
If you are constantly wondering why you aren’t happy, it could be that you need to instead accept your unhappiness for a little while.
Of course, if you are struggling with a mental health issue, that should never be ignored. But, it’s safe to reject the idea that everyone needs to be happy all of the time.
If a particular situation has caused you to be unhappy, recognize that your feelings right now aren’t necessarily going to be your feelings forever. When you let go of the idea of eternal happiness, you allow yourself to accept your feelings and emotions, which paradoxically might actually make you feel a little bit better.
What to Do When Nothing Is Wrong
Wondering “what is wrong with me” can be most perplexing when it seems like there is nothing objectively wrong with your life. If to the outsider observer your life appears to be going well, what could possibly be causing you to feel this way?
Beyond the possibility of depression, or another mental health issue, there could be a number of different reasons you feel this way. Below are some possible causes:
- You might be trying to live up to the ideals of others rather than following your own values.
- You might not feel challenged in your job, or wish that you had chosen a different path.
- You might have achieved a big goal or milestone, and now feel a bit aimless about your future path.
- You might be bored with some aspect of your life, and wishing that you could make a change.
The common thread across these factors is that there is something missing in your life that is causing you to feel that something is wrong. This can be the hardest problem to solve, because to the outside objective observer, you should be perfectly happy.
However, there doesn’t have to be anything catastrophically wrong with your life for you to feel that there is something wrong with you. In cases like this, writing in a journal could help you get to the bottom of your feelings. This is especially true if there is no mental health concern that would nudge you toward seeing a therapist.
When writing in your journal, be curious and ask yourself questions about what would make you feel better. Keep digging until you start to find some answers. The process of free writing can be a helpful way to unearth emotions that you might not be in touch with during your daily life.
If you are struggling with the thought that there is something wrong with you, it can be hard to know where to start to make changes. Often, getting to the root of the cause of your feelings will help you to figure out the best course of action.
Are you not feeling well physically? Then it may be time to make an appointment with your doctor. The same could be true if you are not feeling well mentally.
Are you facing stressful life circumstances that are making you feel like something is wrong? In this case, your best course of action might be to make a plan to relieve stress and improve what is going on in your life.
On the other hand, if you can’t pinpoint what is making you feel like something is wrong, this can be the hardest problem to solve. In this case, it’s likely time for you to start getting quiet and start listening to your own thoughts.
When you start to recognize patterns in your thoughts and learn about how to change your thoughts so that you start to experience the outcomes that you want, then you will be in a better position to start making changes in your life so that you can stop wondering what is wrong with you.
Finally, if you are struggling and nothing seems to be helping, it’s important to reach out for help. You are not the only one who is having thoughts that there is something wrong with you, and there are trained volunteers waiting to help you worth through your situation and find solutions to get you on a better path.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.