Look at your history of abuse behind the feeling
Photo by Arwan Sutanto on Unsplash
Do you ever feel like you can?t do anything right? I?m not just talking about a feeling of failure, but a feeling that goes beyond failure.
I have. I?ve felt that way on many days as a teacher when I felt like the worst teacher in the world. I?ve had days when I felt like the worst son, brother, friend, boyfriend, and above all, the worst Christian in the world.
It always starts with something small: not washing the dishes right, forgetting to close the cabinets, saying the wrong thing in a staff meeting. And then there comes the flustered feelings that only lead to more and more egregious mistakes.
You start to feel like you can?t do anything right. Other people talk about feeling like a fraud or an imposter, but you?re worse ? at least a fraud and imposter can masquerade basic competence. You can?t.
Well, it might help you to know that you?re not alone feeling that way, whether you?re a parent, worker, teacher, or just a human being. In psychology, not being able to do anything right is often a symptom that you were a victim of abuse, and it?s a way of trying to take control over uncontrollable situations.
According to Michael Schreiner of Evolution Counseling, the feeling comes from ?hoping that by modifying the thoughts, feelings, or behaviors they?ll finally be able to improve the situation.? Victims of abuse never call what they go through abuse until it?s too later.
?They?ll truly believe that they?re the ones with the problem, that they?re the ones to blame, that they?re the ones not measuring up, that they?re the ones saying, doing, thinking, or feeling inadequate things.?
In a way, thinking that we can?t do anything right is a means of taking control. Not everyone wants to believe they?re a victim of abuse, and even if they are, a common thought is so what? So what if we?ve been through abuse? Doesn?t life still go on?
On some level, yes, but the ?I can?t do anything right? mindset is a way of not only carrying on from the scars of the abuse but also a mindset we have adopted from abusers. Victims of abuse ignore and minimize times of themselves doing praiseworthy work because abusers ignored those instances. Victims of abuse are made to feel like they can?t do everything right because every shortcoming is something they should take personally, not a human feature of the fact that everyone makes mistakes.
And the belief that you?re not good enough doesn?t just happen overnight. To Schreiner, it?s a phenomenon where we are constantly not given attention for our good deeds and only given attention for our misdeeds. It happens day after day until ?the victims themselves come to believe..a narrative where they?re flawed, bad, worthless.?
We feel like we can?t do anything right by design. We?re given contradictory messages about what?s right, and no matter what we do, we will be reprimanded for our actions. As the human condition dictates that there will always be something wrong, the abuser seizes the opportunity and casts attention on the wrong, not on the right.
In a relationship, sometimes the abused partner talks too much and runs their mouth. Sometimes they don?t talk enough. Sometimes the abused partner is too loud. Sometimes they?re too quiet. Sometimes they?re too passionate. Sometimes they?re not passionate enough.
An abuser makes the abuse feel like everything is their fault and responsibility. It?s never the abuser?s fault, never the abuser?s responsibility for what?s going wrong. Someone always needs to take the blame, and so abusers choose the abuse for Lord knows what reason. And then the abused start to internalize a message that everything is their fault.
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
Wow ? Schreiner?s piece really hits close to home. I think I can?t do anything right and yet, I don?t know if I would consider myself a victim of abuse. I had a hard childhood of constant moving and poverty, as do a lot of kids. It could have been a lot worse ? and so I want to be grateful and count my graces.
However, when we don?t feel good enough, it?s not about the reality rather than the perception. We?ve felt abused, felt all the responsibility pushed onto us, felt like everything was our fault. It can be an experience or a bad history with an authority figure that leads us to feel this way, but what we must do when we don?t feel good enough is zoom out and reflect on the why.
Why don?t we feel good enough? What experiences in our lives led us to not feel good enough then, that we haven?t forgiven ourselves for that lead us to not feel good enough now?
For me, it?s a lot of experiences in my childhood that I felt like I didn?t do enough in ? familial discord that I wanted to fix as a child when I was the youngest one and couldn?t fix anything. I may not have been abused, but I definitely saw abuse, and I wanted to stop it because I knew it wasn?t right. But time and time again, I did nothing.
When you don?t feel good enough, examine that why and take each day to lift a rock off your shoulder, and realize that you don?t need to carry the whole world?s burden on your shoulders. Realize that you are enough, even if it takes you a while to come to that realization.
Every day, remind yourself of who you are: a human, that does good deeds and makes mistakes, who grows every single day. No one else, no external factors or people, can determine your identity for you ? only you decide the worth of your character.
So even though it?s a gradual process, work every day to let go of your feelings from abuse and shame at their origins, and realize that you are doing a lot of things right.