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Do You Ever Feel Like There's Something Wrong With You?

Negative judgements have affected all of us. Here's how to quiet them.

something wrong with you
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Have you ever wondered if there is something wrong with you? Unless you were raised on a deserted island by loving wildebeests, it’s likely you were given some of these criticisms in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood:

Don’t do that!

You’re too sensitive/lazy/fat/loud/stupid/energetic/quiet!

Why can’t you be more like so and so!

You shouldn’t have! Stop it! You didn’t apply yourself!

You could have done better!

That outfit looks bad on you!

You should be ashamed of yourself!

Don’t eat that!

It’s your fault!

You’re a bad girl/boy!

I do everything for you, and you’re so selfish and ungrateful!

As time went on, you got the message loud and clear: There is something wrong with you. And you’ve been carrying that burden ever since.

Here are four examples of how you may think there is something wrong with you:

  • When that second date didn’t come to pass, you may have wondered if you did or said the “wrong” thing. You suffer from dating anxiety and just know that turned your date off.
  • You got divorced and you felt you were damaged and not lovable.
  • When you looked in the mirror, you scrutinized the tiniest wrinkles.
  • When you didn’t get that job, you felt not good enough.

You may have felt all this suffering is the fault of those people who said those things and treated you badly. I get it. But while I’m not excusing what they said or did, I’d like to invite you to remember that they were also raised to think there was something wrong with them. What they said and did ultimately was the result of their own suffering. It had nothing to do with you.

It’s also not your fault for internalizing the negative messages. You didn’t know any better. This process is part of being human.

We ALL have an inner critic (our ego) that has perfected negative self-talk, a kind of anxiety and dark thinking that attacks us and creates a troubled mind. It runs over and over, focusing on our perceived pain, faults, and failures. It specializes in haunting us with examples of how something is wrong with us. For that reason, I call it Disappointing Self.

The Disappointing Self

The Disappointing Self tends to have a mind of its own. Once you give it an inch, it tends to take a mile, meaning that the more you give credence to the negative thoughts, the more they come in.

When it comes to dating and relationships, this Disappointing Self is responsible for ALL our dead-end patterns, from criticizing our partners to feelings of abandonment, lack of deservedness or neediness.

Filled with repressed emotions and experiences, often from childhood, your Disappointing Self tries to “protect” you by repeating false ideas and patterns, as if to prove to you that they are true. For example, if you don’t think you’re lovable, your Disappointing Self will look for an experience that will validate that false belief. If you’re unconsciously afraid of commitment or you don’t think you deserve real love, your Disappointing Self will find you partners who are also afraid of commitment. When it’s in the driver’s seat, a healthy relationship remains elusive and you keep attracting the same kind of partners, while sabotaging love and intimacy as a way to protect yourself.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s easier to quiet the Disappointing Self than you might think. It’s just a matter of tuning into its arch-nemesis.

Your Diamond Self Identity

The Diamond Self is your most dynamic, self-loving, and passionate identity. In each arena of your life, it builds on all of your prior successes. It is the “you” that acts in ways you like, enjoy, respect, and admire; it is the best version of you.

Your Diamond Self identity comes from heartfelt intuition and constructive thinking when you relate to yourself and others. It appears when you affirm yourself and your needs as important, work through your fears, become more authentic, and ask for what you want and really need. And you help others to do the same. When you operate from your real Diamond Self identity, you tend to say and do things that are ultimately beneficial for everyone concerned. You have full access to your gifts, whether it’s quirky humor, aesthetic sensibilities, analytical skills, intuitive understanding of people, or any number of other traits.

No matter how stuck you are in suffering from feeling like there's something wrong with you, it’s still possible to bring your Diamond Self to center stage, and decrease those patterns of sabotage, self-hate, and rumination. It’s just a matter of choosing what to give your attention to.

Here are some of the key ways to quiet the Disappointing Self and put an end to feeling like there’s something wrong with you.

Visualize the Disappointing Self Disappearing

Recall an image of yourself at a time when you felt self-doubting, self-critical, anxious, undeserving, invisible, rejected, abandoned, or unlovable—a time when you were overrun with negative self-talk. This is your Disappointing Self.

Next, picture an image of yourself at a time when you felt most alive, happy, and free. This is your Diamond Self image. Now, imagine throwing it right into the center of your Disappointing Self. Watch it completely destroy the Disappointing Self.

Now, instant replay: Imagine your Disappointing Self, throw the Diamond Self grenade into the center, and blow up the Disappointing Self up again.

Speed the whole thing up and do it several more times.

Do this until you cannot get a clear image of the Disappointing Self. You can do a quick version of this process whenever you need to be comfortable and at ease with yourself or around other people.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the present. By nature, our minds tend to go into overdrive, deviating onto obsessive thoughts about the past or future, which leads to stress and anxiety. This all fuels the Disappointing Self. The practice of mindfulness allows you to detach from all those thoughts, to just allow them to go in and out of your mind without you reacting to them.

Try this quick technique: Sit quietly and just spend a few minutes breathing. With each breath, simply observe each inhale and exhale. Let it come and go naturally. Don’t think about it, just feel and be aware of the breath. When thoughts enter your mind (and they will) just let them come and go, as if each thought is a leaf swept up in the wind, just blowing past you.

In a similar fashion, when you find yourself moving into Disappointing Self territory and those negative, critical thoughts and behaviors are coming up, don’t judge or get attached to them, even the thoughts about how there's something wrong with you. Let the thoughts come and go without grasping on to them.

Love It All Out

Here’s a little secret about the Disappointing Self: It’s a bit like a little kid having a meltdown to get attention and affection. When you react to your Disappointing Self by getting angry at yourself or latching onto all the negative thoughts about something with you, you only make it worse. But when you lovingly “care” for this part of you, it calms down. So, next time you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, send love to the part of you that is thinking it. The less attention you give to its criticism, the quieter it becomes.

More from Diana Kirschner Ph.D.
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