“What Is Wrong With Me?” Analysing Your Emotional Patterns and What They Mean
Jun 29, 2023, 7 min read
We’ve all found ourselves at some point asking the question “what is wrong with me?” If you ask this of yourself in a momentary lapse of self-esteem that you know will pass, that’s totally normal. However, if you are always wondering what’s different about you, why you can’t seem to find contentment, or why everyone else around you seems to be happy except for you, this could start to affect your emotional regulation.
If you have been feeling a little “off” for a while and can’t seem to put your finger on the reason, we’re here to shine a light on why you might be feeling this way, and share some action steps you can try to make yourself feel better, or at least direct your emotions in a healthy way.
At Augmentive, we aim to provide holistic, tailored mental health support to everyone so they can live their life to the fullest, so if you have been feeling a little down or out-of-sorts recently, we’re here to help.
Why you might feel this way
You might be able to pinpoint what has caused you to feel this way, or it may seem totally random and unexpected. If you’re unsure, consider what external circumstances might have changed recently that could be making you feel this way without realising. For example:
- Have you taken on an overwhelming project at work or outside of work?
- Did you recently lose someone in your life?
- Has your self-esteem taken a hit?
- Have you experienced a trauma that you haven’t fully processed?
- Have you had a recent illness or injury?
- Has your home environment changed?
What to do if you don’t know the cause
If nothing has changed recently, but you have started to feel down, unlike yourself, or unfulfilled, consider if there could be anything else in your life that’s making you unhappy. Perhaps you haven’t realised it is a problem before, but it could be at least part of the reason for your feelings.
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:
- Have you had a trauma in your past that still plays on your mind?
- Do you feel trapped in a certain situation and feel unable to step away from it?
- Do you lack control in an area of your life?
- Are you feeling lonely?
- Are your friends and other relationships fulfilling you?
- Do you have a life goal that you are not yet working towards?
Everyone is entirely individual, so only you can identify what the issue might be in your life. Do keep in mind that sometimes there is no underlying reason for feeling this way — our emotions don’t always need to be ‘fixed’.
How to know if it’s depression
There are many different types of depression, and it can often be difficult for the person going through something to identify whether they have depression or are feeling down on a more temporary basis.
If you have persistent feelings of sadness, this could point to signs of depression, however depression is normally longer lasting than low mood and can be more intense. It may also impact your day-to-day life and cause you to feel other things such as guilt, worthlessness and physical fatigue. If you are concerned that you might have depression, you should speak to your doctor about this.
How to cope with these feelings in the short-term
While exploring your feelings in more depth as a long-term solution is always recommended to help you get to the root cause, sometimes you simply want to feel better in the short-term, and that’s OK. If you are wondering “what’s wrong with me?” and having feelings of, for example, not being good enough or wondering if there is more to life, you will likely want to make an immediate change to get out of this mindset.
Sometimes a change of scenery can help, so get out of your usual environment. This could mean booking a night away or staying over at a friend’s house, but you don’t always need to go far to feel better. You could also go for a long walk or book a relaxing activity that will get you away from the usual four walls.
Implementing a routine is often recommended to help people feel more organised and in control, so if you currently lack one, this could be a great thing to add into your day. One study on daily routines for mental health categorised two types of routine;
- Primary routines — behaviours needed for our biological needs, like hygiene, sleep, and eating
- Secondary routines — behaviours which reflect each person’s individual circumstances, motivations and preferences, such as fitness, social activities, and work tasks
Since primary routines tend to structure our day-to-day lives, their disruption is more detrimental to our state of mental health, but changes to our secondary routines can lead to difficult emotions too.
As another short-term solution, try speaking to a friend about how you are feeling, and relay any issues of self-confidence or self-esteem to them. Sometimes speaking out loud about how we’re feeling can help to contextualise our thoughts and we can become more objective about our feelings with the help of someone we trust.
Emotional intelligence and how you can benefit from it
The Harvard Division of Continuing Education suggests that the 4 major components of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness and social skills, and one of the first studies to mention emotional intelligence was by Salovey and Mayer in 1990, who described it as “the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions”.
Emotional intelligence is essentially a person’s ability to identify, understand, control, show, and utilise their emotions in order to communicate with and relate to others. This might mean, for example, identifying emotions in others, having an understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, having the ability to move on from mistakes, having the ability to embrace change, accepting responsibility for your own actions, and more.
There are many benefits to having good emotional intelligence, such as being able to effectively move on after making a mistake, putting boundaries in place, being able to share your feelings with others, and many more.
“It all starts with self-awareness, which is the foundation of EI, and it builds from there. If you’re aware of your own emotions and the behaviours they trigger, you can begin to manage these emotions and behaviours.” - Margaret Andrews, instructor of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership at Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education
Identifying your emotional patterns and what they mean
It’s usually a positive thing to be able to analyse your emotions, especially if you can analyse them in the moment as they are occurring. According to research conducted by Time, only 36% of people can accurately identify emotions as they happen, which means the majority of us could be going through daily life misreading our own emotions and making irrational choices based on them.
However, if you are constantly ruminating and analysing your emotions without finding a solution or learning from them, this can sometimes do more harm than good and lead to further stress.
When analysing your patterns of emotions, try to think of them as temporary things, like passing clouds, rather than a permanent state of mind. By understanding that our emotions can influence our behaviour (but don’t have to), we can feel more in control when life throws us a curveball and we must use our emotional intelligence to reason our way out of it.
Improving your emotional intelligence long-term, and why therapy could help
Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that every person’s experience with low mood, depression, and anxiety is completely different, and because of this, we believe everyone’s treatment should be bespoke and individualised. With that in mind, we cannot recommend one method or therapy structure over another — it is best to work with your doctor or a trained professional who can point you in the right direction.
If you have recently been asking the question “what’s wrong with me?” and you want to move on from those thoughts in a healthy way, one of the best ways you can work through your emotions on a deeper level, try to make sense of them, and learn to regulate everyday emotions, is to speak to a trained therapist.
Not only can this help you feel better about your situation and gain more insight and direction in your life, but by improving your emotional intelligence you can become a more well-rounded person with better social relationships.
Here are a few things you can do to improve your emotional intelligence long term, along with some therapy techniques that could help:
- Mindfulness techniques — These can be helpful for regulating your emotions in the moment, as they encourage people to be more present and fully feel their emotions instead of trying to shut them out. If, for example, you feel upset in a particular moment, you may want to take a minute to yourself to take some deep breaths and consider the root cause of your reaction.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) — This type of therapy involves learning emotional regulation and healthy coping strategies to work through difficult emotions in order to improve relationships.
- Psychodynamic therapy — This type of therapy aims to reveal and address the unconscious thoughts and psychological impulses that someone may have but not realise, helping them to better understand their own thought patterns, why they tend to think that way, and how they can use this understanding to remove the inner conflict (sometimes called “psychic tension”) which arises during times of high stress and/or anxiety.
If you’re unsure what type of therapy could help you most, at Augmentive we offer a completely free 15 minute consultation in which one of our qualified professionals will chat with you about the feelings you have been experiencing, and use their expertise to suggest the most appropriate specialist for you. By finding the best therapy option and specialist for you, you can start to work through difficult emotions and improve your emotional intelligence as a result.
Whether you’re feeling off-kilter or want to shake up your routine, our state-of-the-art mental wellbeing platform gives you quick and seamless access to world-class support on your terms, from private psychiatric assessments and reviews to broader mental health care: join us today.