Guest writer for Wake Up World
“What is wrong with me?” “Am I crazy?” “Am I just broken?” “Will anyone truly love me?” “Why do I keep f*cking up everything?” “Why am I such an outsider/loser?” “What the hell is wrong with me?”
If you’re here reading these words, chances are that you’ve felt (or are currently feeling) this way about yourself.
No judgment here. I’ve experienced these thoughts and feelings over and over again in my life.
Yes, you might be living from a wounded place or from patterns of unresolved trauma, but that doesn’t make you “broken.”
In this simple guide, you’re going to learn why you feel like something is wrong with you, and what to do with these crappy feelings.
Note: this article is specifically for those who feel on an emotional level that something is off with them. But if you’re experiencing a physical issue like a mysterious symptom or illness, please go and see the doctor. Or if you’re having extreme psychological disturbances like hallucinations or suicidal thoughts, this article will not be able to adequately support you, so please see a psychiatrist or call a suicide hotline immediately.
“What is Wrong With Me?” – FOUR Reasons Why You Might Feel This Way
True story: I used to believe that I was an evil sinner that was going to hell.
Of course, that extreme (and kind of comical) belief came from my strict religious upbringing which instilled this unshakeable, ever-present belief that something was terribly wrong with me.
Thankfully I no longer believe that psychologically abusive teaching, but it has given me a direct understanding and insight into this pernicious belief.
Here are some potential reasons why you might believe that something is wrong with you:
- Religious conditioning (as I mentioned above) which can directly or indirectly impact you
- Childhood trauma – i.e., being brought up in an environment where you were made to feel unworthy, unlovable, unseen, ugly, unwanted, etc. on a regular basis
- Systemic oppression due to your race, sexuality, gender, physical ability, etc.
- Media marketing – e.g., constantly being exposed to unrealistically beautiful, successful, and happy people on social media, advertisements, and other media sources
Most of us have faced at least one (usually many) of these experiences – and they all contribute to a feeling of low self-worth and loss of self-respect. Let me know what you think the source of your struggle is in the comments below.
Nope, There’s Nothing “Wrong” With You
Stopping to really take a look at this question of “what is wrong with me?” we can see how superficial it is in the sense that it’s unhelpful and doesn’t go very deep into the issue.
We discover that we can’t stay in a relationship and so we immediately assume that there’s something wrong with us.
We feel anxious around groups of people and so we judge ourselves as being broken or we apply a pathological label to our symptoms.
It’s normal to skip to these conclusions and quick judgments – no blame here. We all do it due to the four reasons outlined in the previous section.
But instead of asking “what is wrong with me?” I encourage you to ask a more gentle and trauma-focused question:
“What happened to me?”
“How did I survive it?”
We’ll explore these two questions a bit more later. But first, let’s examine the link between trauma and the belief that there’s something wrong with us:
“What is Wrong With Me?” is a Belief Rooted in Trauma
Here’s the thing:
The way in which you live life right now is rooted in the experiences you’ve had growing up and the unresolved trauma embedded in your body, heart, and mind.
Whatever stressful, maladaptive, or difficult behaviors you’re exhibiting right now are an adaptive response or a survival mechanism that your inner biology and psychology developed to ward of danger in the past, and keep it away in the present.
How does this relate to the belief that we’re messed up or broken?
The answer is that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with you, you’re just living from a traumatised place.
In the words of trauma specialist Bessel Van Der Kolk:
Being traumatised means continuing to organise your life as if the trauma were still going on — uncharged and immutable — as every new encounter or even is contaminated by the past. After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system. The survivor’s energy now becomes focused on suppressing inner chaos, at the expense of spontaneous involvement in their lives.
We’ll explore ways to deal with this trauma (which can happen due to many experiences including one-off and ongoing stressful events) in the next section.
Ultimately, the core message here is that believing that there’s something “wrong” with you is understandable but also shortsighted. Why? The answer is that whatever pain you’re experiencing is rooted in deeper unresolved trauma and beliefs that drive your actions and perceptions.
This unresolved trauma isn’t your fault at all. But it is your responsibility (if you choose that path) to work through it from a bigger-picture understanding.
How to Free Yourself From the Belief That There’s Something “Wrong” With You (4 Paths & Practices)
If you constantly ask yourself the question “what is wrong with me?” you’ll probably experience at least one of the following symptoms:
- Feeling empty inside
- Feeling alone and unlovable
- Feeling lost in life
- Existential depression or existential crisis
- (For younger people) quarter-life crisis
If you’re interested in exploring any of those symptoms a little more in-depth, click through to the relevant article.
But for now, let’s explore how you can free yourself from the belief that there’s something “wrong” with you:
1. Journal about these three questions
To revisit the importance of the two questions I mentioned earlier in this article, I encourage you to actually journal about them:
- “What happened to me?” (i.e., what trauma have you experienced growing up and in adulthood, e.g., religious conditioning, childhood trauma, systemic oppression, toxic media marketing, etc.)
- “How did I survive it?” (i.e., in response to this trauma what behaviors did you consciously or unconsciously adopt to numb, avoid, or suppress the pain?)
- (Bonus question) “How does this new awareness change my self-perception?”
You’d be surprised by what kinds of unexpected insights and even breakthroughs can emerge after exploring these three questions.
2. Craft a self-compassion practice
Learning to grow self-respect and self-love is a huge part of counterracting the belief that there’s something fundamentally “wrong” with you.
One of my favorite practices is doing a 1-minute mirror work practice each day where I talk to myself kindly using supportive affirmations like “I am worthy” or simply connect with my heart and say something gentle to myself. Although mirror work can be a tough and uncomfortable practice at first, it gets easier with time.
Some other guides that may help you cultivate a daily self-compassion practice are:
- Self-Love: 23 Ways to Become a Doctor of the Soul
- How to Love Yourself (No Bullsh*t Guide)
- 100+ Journaling Ideas For Deep Mental & Spiritual Healing
3. Release Stored Trauma at a Physical Level
Our nervous system governs our entire being. Read that sentence again.
So if your nervous system is stuck in a fight, flight, or freeze mode, you will never be able to feel truly relaxed, grounded, or connected.
Ever wonder why no amount of good exercise, healthy habits, talk therapy, or meditation makes you feel better?
The answer is that you’ve most likely forgotten about the importance of healing at a somatic or physical nervous system level.
Some routes I recommend exploring further are:
- Reading books like When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate, The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, and Scared Sick by Karr-Morse and S. Wiley
- Watching videos on YouTube about nervous system healing and regulation
- Exploring trauma-informed somatic healing practices (like cultivating body awareness, resourcing, pendulation, etc.) and potentially working with a trained somatic healing therapist
4. Soul Searching
For some, sticking with the above pieces of advice is enough. But for others, there is an even deeper craving to find and deal with the root of suffering which creates trauma in the first place: the ego.
The ego is that separate sense of self that we carry which causes us to feel lonely, isolated, and abandoned.
When we live from an ego-centered place, we live misaligned lives that tend to feel meaningless, aimless, or empty on some level.
By going Soul searching, by going on a journey to find out own deeper path in life, we also discover that there’s nothing actually wrong with us – it’s only the fragmented ego that believes that.
If you’d like more guidance, I highly recommend checking out my article called Soul Searching: 7 Ways to Uncover Your True Path and my guide entitled Meaning of Life VS. Purpose of Life (the Difference!).
This whole website is dedicated to the topic of Soul searching and the spiritual awakening journey, so you’ll find many resources at your fingertips!
I’d love to know if this article helped you at all. It’s always meaningful for me to read your responses to what I create and share. Please feel welcome to write any of your thoughts or feelings about this topic below!
About the author:
Aletheia Luna is a prolific psychospiritual writer, author, and spiritual mentor whose work has touched the lives of millions worldwide. As a survivor of fundamentalist religious abuse, her mission is to help others find love, strength, and inner light in even the darkest places. She is the author of hundreds of popular articles, as well as numerous books and journals on the topics of Self-Love, Spiritual Awakening, and more. See more of her work at lonerwolf.com.
This article, “What is Wrong With Me?” – How To Heal This Toxic Belief, was originally published on lonerwolf.com, reproduced with permission.