Why Do I Feel Like I Suck at Everything?
A Psychotherapist's Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Negative Self Talk
It's not uncommon to encounter individuals in my practice who express feelings of incompetence or inadequacy, feeling like they are just not enough or are too much and not enough all at the same time. One of the most pervasive thoughts that haunt some people is the belief that they "suck at everything." This belief can be paralyzing and detrimental, but the good news is that it's possible to address and overcome it.
Understanding the Root Cause of Negative Self-Talk
Working through this difficult issue starts with understanding your pattern of negative self-talk. Let's look at how we start to do that.
Self-Criticism and Comparison: Your negative thoughts about yourself can stem from a pattern of comparing yourself to others. They can also come from a perception you developed about yourself as you grew up, a pattern of thinking you have been unable to disrupt.
Previous Failures or Rejections: Past experiences may shape your belief in your abilities. Understanding that failure is a natural part of growth can help you reframe these experiences and begin to see the failures as a point of development to help you succeed.
Identify the Patterns of Negative Self-Talk: Awareness + Acceptance + Action = Change
The next tips I want to share relate to identifying patterns in ourselves. Self-awareness can help you better understand your behaviour and patterns. This will allow you to look for ways to disrupt it once you know how the negative self-talk can start and how it can amplify and become upsetting and damaging.
Keep a Thought Journal: One way to better understand your unwanted thoughts is to write down instances where you feel you "suck" at something. Ask yourself: What triggered this thought? What were the surrounding circumstances?
Recognize Cognitive Distortions: Look for unhelpful thinking patterns, such as overgeneralization or catastrophizing. For example, if you go to a job interview and don't get hired and then tell yourself that you're "useless and unemployable," you are demoralized, not good enough and abandon your job search. You can help the situation by realizing that not being offered a job after an interview may simply be a result of factors outside your control. This is a great opportunity to “Check The Facts”. See the end of my blog for a FREE PDF that contains a guide to help you with this simple, fast tool.
"Do I Suck at Everything?" How to Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Here are a couple of techniques that will help you challenge your negative thoughts:
Ask for Evidence: If you think you're bad at everything, ask yourself for concrete evidence or facts. Often, you'll find that facts do not support this belief.
Seek Outside Perspectives: Sometimes, friends, family, or colleagues can provide a more balanced view of your abilities. Be willing to ask them if you really do "suck at everything" and if they think there is anything you are good at. You will be surprised at how their version of you is not what you think it is.
Practice Self Compassion: Speak to yourself as you would to a friend or even a beloved pet. When you have a negative thought about yourself, consider if you would say that same thing out loud to a friend or pet. Chances are you wouldn't, so if you wouldn’t say it to them, why say it to yourself?
Professional Help: Therapy can provide a safe space to explore these feelings with a trained expert who can help guide you through them. The psychotherapists on my team at my practice have extensive experience helping people that struggle with negative self-talk and helping them see that they don't suck at everything. You can discover that you have value and can make a meaningful contribution to the world. Contact us for more information using the info below.
Community and Connection: Engaging with supportive friends or community groups can foster a sense of belonging and acceptance. You can seek out groups and organizations to support you and help you discover that you are valuable to the world and others. Community, connection and support help us know that we’re not in it alone and are not the only ones going through it.
Set Realistic and Achievable Goals
Goal setting and finding a way to meet those goals can be made easier if you take on the following:
Break Tasks into Smaller Steps: Instead of setting overwhelming goals, break them down into smaller, manageable tasks that you can achieve individually. Desmond Tutu, the famed South African cleric, once said, "There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time," What he meant was that by dividing a large task into smaller, manageable parts, even the most daunting obstacles can be overcome and conquered.
Celebrate Progress and Effort: Focus on your effort and progress rather than just the result you want. Simply reading this post already demonstrates that you're already taking a step into action to help yourself heal and address the unwanted thoughts and feelings you have. Having the courage to start the journey is a victory in and of itself.
Here are some final tips to help you develop some self-comparison.
Practice Mindfulness: Techniques like meditation can help you stay present and cultivate a more compassionate relationship with yourself. So, learn mindfulness techniques, as it is a powerful tool to help you develop self-compassion. A simple starter technique is to attend to your breath, be aware of it, and when your mind drifts, acknowledge it and go back to your breath. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Embrace Common Humanity: This is something I touched on earlier. Common Humanity is the awareness and knowledge that we’re all in it together. There’s a shared experience of the human experience, and we’re all perfectly imperfect.
What’s possible with psychotherapy
The feeling that you "suck at everything" is not uncommon, but it is often rooted in patterns of thinking that can be understood and challenged. Through self-awareness, professional support from a psychotherapist, and self-compassion, you can shift and reframe your perspective and embrace a more positive view of yourself.
Get in touch
If you or someone you know is struggling with these feelings, reach out to me and my team via email at email@example.com or 647-296-9235, and we will work to help you find a therapist to work with you. We offer a free 30-minute consultation via phone or video chat, and we’re available for online sessions using our secure online video platform across Ontario and in-person sessions in select cities.