Do you regularly tell yourself “I can’t do anything right”?
This sort of negative self-talk can be paralyzing. It’s a limiting belief that you need to break free of in order to enjoy life to its fullest.
So let’s look at 10 ways to do just that.
13 Ways To Break Free of The “I Can’t Do Anything Right” Mindset
#1 Identify Your Limiting Beliefs
Your interpretation of the world is formed by your values and beliefs. They can be a helpful way of making sense of the ups and downs of life. However, left unexamined, they can also become obstacles to our happiness.
Limiting beliefs are things we hold to be true that also hold us back. Often, they are instilled in childhood, through our peers, or even from those we think love us. Here are some examples of limiting beliefs:
- In order to find love, I need to be wealthy.
- A real man doesn’t cry.
- I don’t have anything to offer the world.
- And, of course: I can’t do anything right.
Unfortunately, even though our limiting beliefs are often objectively false, they feel 100% true to us. It’s not as easy as just wishing them away. However, recognizing the limiting beliefs that are holding you back is the first step to overcoming them.
Tony Robbins has a great guide to identifying limiting beliefs and replacing them with empowering beliefs. It includes 16 of the most common limiting beliefs, so it is a great place to start on your journey to overcome the negative thoughts that create an overwhelming feeling that you can’t do anything right.
#2 Accept That Your Beliefs Shape Your Feelings
Once you’ve identified your biggest limiting beliefs, it’s time to adopt a new mindset about them. Limiting beliefs inherently create feelings. For example, if you believe “I am a shy person” then you will experience feelings of shyness when pressed into social situations.
We like to think it goes the other way:
- We feel useless because we are useless.
- We feel broken because we are broken.
- We feel like failures because we are failures.
But that’s NOT what the science says. In fact, one team of psychologists reviewed 138 different studies in order to conclude that the very act of smiling can make people happier.
In other words, you have some control over your feelings. Certainly, emotions will overtake us like a wave at times. But they aren’t only an external factor. If you spend all day every day telling yourself “I feel like I can’t do anything right”, then your emotions are going to follow suit.
#3 Embrace a Positive Mantra
If you can accept that your beliefs shape your mental state, then it’s time to replace those negative thinking habits with good ones.
That’s where your positive mantra comes in.
A mantra is simply a phrase that you repeat to yourself over and over again. The practice derives from Hinduism and Buddhism, and has been adopted far and wide by people looking to take control over their mental state.
You can create a mantra that is directly counter to your limiting beliefs. Here are some examples:
- My life matters—to me, to my loved ones, and to the world.
- Doing my best is good enough.
- Done is better than perfect.
- My feelings do not represent who I am or what I am capable of.
Once you craft your mantra, repeat it to yourself throughout the day. A good practice is to set aside at least five minutes in the morning to sit in peaceful quiet and say your mantra over and over again. Then, throughout the day, say it either outloud or in your head.
You can even begin to repeat your mantra whenever you start to feel like you can’t do anything right. It will become a weapon of sorts to help you find peace when everything around you feels like it’s just too much to deal with. You’ve always got your mantra to return to.
#4 Recognize the Things You Have Done Right
Since limiting beliefs are based in falsehood, one of the best ways to overcome them is to replace them with the truth.
When a child is learning a new math concept, for example, they might complain to their teacher “It’s too hard, I’ll never get it right”. The teacher, of course, can point out to them all of the past challenges they have overcome in order to prove that they will overcome this one as well. The teacher might even point out how mistakes were part of the learning process.
You can apply that same concept to your own life. When it feels like everything you do is wrong, remind yourself of all the times you have done things right.
It can even be a good idea to make a list of the good you have accomplished in life and post it somewhere that you will always see it.
#5 Practice Mindfulness
In its simplest sense, mindfulness is simply the practice of being actively aware. Aware of yourself, of the way you feel. But also aware of your surroundings.
Adopting your mantra is actually one step towards becoming more mindful, but there are lots of other things you can do to get to know yourself better:
- Take time to enjoy meals slowly, without doing work while you eat.
- Notice how you feel when you spend time on something or with someone that you love.
- Keep a journal of the things you are grateful for at the end of each day.
- Examine the thoughts you have when you feel like you can’t do anything right.
So how will practicing mindfulness help you find solace from your limiting beliefs? Simply by helping you be more aware of your self. The better you get at always examining how you are feeling, the better you will be able to take control of everything life throws at you.
#6 Take Control of Your Emotions
If you’ve ever felt anxious, then you probably know how much it can snowball. One little thing we do doesn’t come out perfect, and we start to worry about all the mistakes we’ve ever committed. We start to question everything.
In other words: we lose control of the way we are feeling.
But there are things you can do to take back control:
- Accept that emotions come and go, just like the tide.
- Understand that emotions can’t really be right or wrong. They are simply a normal part of life.
- Avoid making big decisions when you are overcome with a strong feeling.
- Treat emotions like a storm. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply wait them out.
Practice taking control of your emotions in every aspect of life and you’ll be better prepared to work through the times when you are feeling like you can’t do anything right.
#7 Take Control of Your Environment
No matter how hard you try to control your own emotions, there will always be influences around you that trigger negative feelings. Getting rid of these triggers—or at least finding ways to work around them—is integral to overcoming the “I can’t do anything right” mindset.
To put it another way: sometimes you’ve got to wait out the storm. Other times, you just need to move somewhere with a better climate.
So how can you go about taking control of the external factors that influence your life? Here’s a simple method to follow:
- Identify the people, places, and situations that reinforce your self limiting beliefs.
- Ask yourself, which of these are absolutely necessary for me?
- For anything that you don’t need to hold on to, make a plan for cutting it out.
Of course, step 3 is much easier said than done. My best advice is to take it slowly and make small changes. If there are people you need to avoid, start with the ones who are easiest to cut ties with. However, if there is a person causing you abuse (mental, physical, or emotional), getting out of that situation would take a high priority.
#8 Let Go of The Things Outside of Your Control
Sometimes nothing you do would be enough to completely eliminate every source of the “I can’t do anything right” attitude. There is always something that is beyond your control.
There are negative coworkers you have to talk with on a regular basis.
There are family members who you can’t avoid forever.
There are situations that are just a regular part of your day.
If you think you can control everything, you’ll never find peace. So it’s better to ask yourself “how can I let go of the things beyond my control?”
Psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do Amy Morin suggests that part of the solution lies in differentiating between ruminating and problem-solving. Ruminating is simply wallowing in an undesirable feeling or situation. You think it will make you feel better, but really it just compounds your anxieties.
Problem-solving is when you find active ways to right a wrong. If you can’t apply problem-solving, then your best bet is to simply go with the flow and accept the situation rather than wallow in it.
#9 Take an Escape
Sometimes, distance is all you need to overcome some of the abuse that life throws at you. Go on vacation, take a walk in nature, lose yourself in a good book, or just take a long weekend away from work.
Change things up for a bit to get yourself free from the habits that reinforce your limiting beliefs. Then, you will be refreshed to tackle those painful thoughts of not being able to do anything right.
#10 Don’t Put Up With Abuse in Your Relationships
Do you ever tell yourself “I can’t do anything right in my relationship?”
If so, you need to be aware that this may be a major red flag of potential abuse. Especially if outside of your relationship, you don’t have these same emotions. Ask yourself these questions to help gauge the source of the problem:
- Is your partner never pleased with what you do?
- Does your partner make you feel like everyday mistakes are wrong?
- Does your partner blame you for things that are outside of your control?
- Does your partner blame you for their own problems?
All of these could be signs of emotional abuse. If you feel like you are in a dangerous relationship, it’s important to get help immediately and potentially talk with a professional. At least find someone you can confide in. Sometimes, just admitting to another person that a relationship is not going well can be the impetus you need to finally break free.
Many abusers want you to feel like you can’t do anything right so that they can exert more control over you. And unfortunately, the signs of abuse may be so subtle that victims don’t realize their situation until it is too late.
#11 Be Real With Yourself
If you look realistically at your situation and your skills, you will for sure find things you do right.
Be real and objective with yourself, even if actually, a lot of things going the wrong way.
#12 Control Your Focus
Where your focus goes, energy flows. So always check in where your thoughts are going. Are they searching for things you can’t do?
Our brain tends to look at the negative. Try to balance this out and look out actively for the positive.
#13 It’s OK To Do Some Things Not Right
Everyone has weaknesses. It is ok to have them.
It makes you a human being. 🙂
No one is perfect and can do it all!
You never need to tell yourself “I feel like I can’t do anything right again”. With these 10 tips, you are equipped to break free of this dangerous mindset. So tell me in the comments what your first step is going to be.