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Do you feel like everything you do is wrong? As though no matter what you touch, what you try, it is all doomed to failure?
You’re not alone.
In fact, many people struggle with these feelings for reasons they can’t always put their finger on. The feelings may come from a subconscious place without an apparent cause-and-effect relationship.
However, there is a cause, even if it’s not an obvious one. And if you want to silence your inner critic, you must identify that cause.
The causes we’re about to explore may sometimes stem from some pretty serious challenges. Though self-help can be of use with many of them, there’s a good chance you will need additional help from a mental health professional to address the core issue. You may need treatment for a mental health issue and then therapy to unmake an old habit and replace it with a new one. If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you work through this hurtful belief. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
Let’s explore some common reasons why you feel that you can’t seem to do anything right.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good”? What does that mean exactly? Well, perfection is an unattainable state. There’s no such thing as perfect, so it’s an intangible goal that is always out of reach.
Nevertheless, some people fool themselves into thinking it is within reach because they judge their work through their own lens. That is, they want to reach this standard of perfection that they hold in their mind. And if they reach that standard, then the work is perfect.
Of course, there’s a problem with that. Perfect is often a moving goalpost. Anyone can look at their work and see things they could have or should have done better. If perfect is your goal, it can take far longer to reach than necessary.
And then some people never reach it. Instead, they keep fiddling and tweaking their work, trying to make it perfect in their eyes, sometimes for themselves, sometimes so other people will see it as perfect, too.
But those other people might not. The truth is that you can work for years on a project or goal, think it’s perfect, and then it totally bombs because it didn’t land with your audience or trends have moved on. Ten years ago, zombies were all the rage: zombie books, zombie movies, zombie video games, zombie comics, and zombie shows converted from comics. Now? A zombie anything isn’t likely to perform nearly as well. An artist who’s spent the last ten years working on a zombie thing may find that it bombs because people are tired of zombies.
On the other hand, a thing that you actually release at least has the chance to be good because you or your audience can look at it, judge its qualities, and decide, “Hey, I like that.” Some will find it perfect even if it has flaws, largely because audiences aren’t always predictable, and few people expect perfection.
It’s okay to not be perfect or produce perfection. In fact, if you believe you are, you’re probably lying to yourself.
2. Negative self-talk.
There is one person in the world with whom you will spend the most time. Yourself! It doesn’t matter who else you have in your life, who comes and goes, or what relationships you build or tear down, there will always be one consistent person in every second and every moment of your life. You.
But how many of us are kind to ourselves? How many of us can treat ourselves with the love and respect that we deserve from our own selves? And what kind of effect does it have on you when you are the one to tear yourself to pieces because you don’t love yourself, don’t find value in yourself, and don’t feel like you are good things?
How you speak to yourself determines and guides how you feel about yourself. So, for example, if you tell yourself that you’re a worthless piece of garbage that does everything wrong then that’s how you’re going to feel about yourself.
Of course, it’s easy to say, “Just be kind to yourself!” which is the most stupid advice you can ever give someone struggling with negative self-talk. Being kind is hard for some people, especially if they don’t know how to be kind to others or themselves. For many people, these beliefs and behaviors start as children when their adults tell them repeatedly how worthless they are.
Chances are pretty good you’ll need therapy to work on this because you’ll need to get to the root of why you speak negatively to and of yourself in the first place. Until then, if you can’t be positive about yourself, just try not to be negative. It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing thinking. Sometimes it can be as simple as, “Well, I tried, and things didn’t work out. That’s okay. Let me try something else.”
3. Lack of self-awareness.
A lack of self-awareness can make you think that you can’t do anything right and leave you feeling like a loser. The reason for this is negative self-bias.
A person who lacks self-awareness may take the blame that does not belong to them because they make assumptions based on their feelings. And what we feel doesn’t always accurately reflect reality. For example, suppose you struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, or other mental health issues. In that case, your brain may inherently try to drag you into that hole.
Furthermore, a person who lacks self-awareness may not be fully aware of the positive impact they have. They may not be able to give themselves the occasional pat on the back for a job well done, feel like they contribute positively to relationships, or even perceive that they can be good things.
Balance is what is most important. A healthy self-awareness allows a person to see their bad AND their good qualities. And if you only see the bad, then your self-awareness may not be where it should be.
4. Comparison with others.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
Do you feel inadequate when you compare yourself to others? Probably. How much time do you spend comparing yourself to people who are doing better than you? Probably a lot more than you do comparing yourself to people who are doing worse, right?
And it’s so easy to do nowadays! All you have to do is jump onto social media or tune in to your favorite millionaire influencer to see just how much better everyone else is doing than you! Awesome! Right?
The problem is that you never see the truth about what other people present to the world. Only the trashiest or most unstable people wind up putting their whole life on display for the world to see. Look at most social media accounts and you’ll see the owner is just putting out how awesome their life is, how wonderful their partner is, and how they’re out there just doing so much with their life!
Who are they trying to convince? You? Or themselves? Or are they trying to convince you to pat their back and say, “Good job. Your life is better than mine.” No, people with social media accounts like that and influencers are carefully cultivating their public image because they have something to sell you. That may be a physical product or capturing your attention, so you keep coming back. That way, they can show impressions and engagement to the businesses they are advertising to.
These people may not have good lives at all. The person with a fancy car or beautiful home may be buried in debt to own and flaunt those things. That person on that tropical beach may have put it all on credit cards to make it happen.
Then you have the performative relationship stuff. “OMG, they are the love of my life. I can’t believe how happy we are!” Again, who are they trying to convince? You? Or themselves because their relationship may not be going well. No one wants to enter a relationship only for it to fall apart later. It’s hard to accept that it happens. It’s even harder when you’re trying to convince yourself that it’s not happening.
Just stop comparing yourself to these people and these accounts—it’s not REAL.
5. External factors.
Does it ever feel like life sets out to absolutely screw you? Like the universe is just working against you? Everything you put your hands on just seems to fail, and you can’t figure out why? Well, I have good news for you, although you may not interpret it as good.
The universe does not care about us. That can either be a comforting or terrifying thing. It can be terrifying because damn, why wouldn’t it be? That’s a vast, unknowable, uncaring prospect. But, on the other hand, it’s also a comfort because it means there’s no possible way that the universe is specifically singling you out to suffer.
We are all specks in the universe in the same way that each grain of sand in a desert is an insignificant speck.
However, external factors could make you feel as though everything you do is wrong. That might be abusive people around you, a terrible boss at work, or just the hardship of life.
How many people out there are working so hard to keep their heads above water…and they can’t. All these external factors can make you feel like everything you do is wrong. And it might take some changes in lifestyle, people around you, a job, or life situation to help you feel better about it.
6. Fear of failure.
Many people struggle with a fear of failure. The relationship that many have with failure is one of an absolute ending. “Oh, I failed; therefore, I should stop doing this.” But you don’t have to view failure that way.
The people who succeed and find their way through don’t view failure as an end state. Instead, they view it as an indicator of something they need to change. The savvy person views failure as a time to pivot to another path. They say, “This isn’t working for me, but I can use what I’ve already learned to pursue this other goal.”
Business is an excellent example of where failure doesn’t need to be an end state. Maybe you open a bakery because you have this magnificent cookie recipe. But your customers disagree. You put all this time and effort into making these cookies, honing the recipe, trying to mass produce them…and they don’t sell. Yet, on the other hand, your cake-making and decorating are in high demand.
Now, you could cling to wanting to make and sell cookies which could lead you to bankruptcy, or you could tone down on the cookies and put a majority of your effort into the cakes. It’s not a failure if you don’t view it as a failure. Failure is a chance to grow and shine. It’s not an end; it’s a learning experience if you choose to view it that way.
7. Trauma or past experiences.
Let’s say you haven’t had the best run in your life. You may have experienced some unhealthy people, situations, or things that were important to you that just didn’t work out. Trauma, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is an emotional response to a terrible event.
Now, not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD. However, that doesn’t mean that a traumatic event may not shape your present and future life.
For example, maybe you found yourself in an abusive relationship. That abuser tore you down daily by nitpicking everything you did, telling you that you weren’t good enough, and making you feel like everything you did was wrong. It’s reasonable to struggle with the idea that you can do things right if someone you loved constantly told you that you couldn’t.
That kind of thing carries into your future unless you take the time to address it, heal it, and learn to think better about yourself. That is definitely something you want professional help with because it could be unhealthy thinking, or it might actually point to PTSD or C-PTSD.
8. Unhealthy coping skills.
Sometimes, the narrative and belief that everything you do is wrong is actually a coping skill, albeit an unhealthy one. You set a goal and try, but it doesn’t work out how you imagined, and then you tell yourself it will never work out because you can’t do anything right anyway. That line of thinking then becomes an excuse to not try.
“What’s the point? I’m just going to mess it up anyway. Why bother trying?”
It’s easier to tear yourself down than it is to say, “Oh well. I tried my best. Maybe it’s time to pivot or move on to other things.” Instead of being kind to yourself, it’s an excuse to reinforce the idea that you are not good things or capable of better things.
That sort of thing is much easier to swallow if you’re depressed, anxious, harmed by trauma, struggling with addiction or alcoholism, or any other thing that might make it hard to view yourself positively.
9. Unrealistic expectations.
Some people set themselves up to fail before they ever get started. And in this context, we are talking about failure as an end. This is because they set a totally unreasonable goal that they were never going to be able to attain in the first place. And because they have those unrealistic expectations, their perceptions of how things can be and will progress are completely skewed.
Nowhere is this more true than in relationships. How many people out there pine for their happily ever after? How many people want to get married just for their special day and don’t give an ounce of thought to the marriage that comes after? Does that sound insane to you? If it does, congratulations, you are a reasonable person who thinks past right now.
The truth is that there is no happily ever after in the black-and-white context that immature or inexperienced people view it. Even if you find your perfect partner, you’ll suffer the pains of life, the losses, the struggles, and the challenges. And sooner or later, one of you is going to die. Chances are pretty good you’re not going to be happy about that.
Unrealistic expectations set you up for failure from the start. You can easily fall into the trap of feeling like what you do is wrong if you spend your time telling yourself that everything will be perfect if you just get this job, date this person, find this love, or try harder and harder.
You may also find that things don’t work out for reasons you could never have foreseen because that’s how life sometimes goes.
10. Mental health issues.
“Everything I do is wrong.” This is a phrase that anyone with a mental health issue that affects their perceptions can struggle with.
Depression can make you feel as though nothing is worth it, that you aren’t good at things, or that you can’t do things right.
Likewise, anxiety may overload you with worries that you’re not doing everything you possibly can. Then, when something doesn’t work out, that belief is confirmed, whether it’s your fault or not. And even if it is your fault, that doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong.
Bipolar Disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, C-PTSD, borderline, alcoholism, addiction, and a host of mental health issues can dramatically affect how you perceive and feel about yourself.
These things can be so difficult to try to self-manage without any professional support. You may need therapy, medication, rehab, or some other kind of medical intervention that can help you address these issues and feel like you are doing things right.
Even if things go wrong or you don’t do something right, it doesn’t make you a bad person. You’re just experiencing something that everyone does. The actual problem is not you; it’s your relationship with things not working out and going wrong.
It is a good idea to seek professional help from one of the therapists at BetterHelp.com as professional therapy can be highly effective in helping you to identify and address the root cause of your belief that everything you do is wrong.