Struggling with self-doubt and feeling uncertain about your place in the world can be a vicious cycle. The more you do it, the more it becomes a reality. This happens because negative thoughts make you stop believing in yourself and working on your self-improvement.
Ideas like “Why am I not good at anything?” are one such self-fulfilling prophecy. When you believe something like this – which is undeniably false – eventually, it becomes true because you give up on yourself.
This is why it’s important to change your thinking as soon as possible. Sometimes people have the wrong idea of what it means to be good at something, which can be confusing and discouraging.
Here’s why these thoughts are so common and what you can do to get rid of them while getting really good at things in the process.
“Why Am I Not Good At Anything?” Because You Believe It.
Making broad statements like “I’m not good at anything” can quickly discourage you from even trying. Luckily, you can easily debunk this way of thinking by asking yourself some questions.
• Have you tried everything? Of course you haven’t. Nobody has and never will. Starting with an obvious question like this may seem silly, but it can give you some optimism and hope. Maybe there’s something waiting around the corner. Keep reading to find out what.
• How can you be sure you’re not good at anything? Maybe the scale you grade yourself on is more strict than it should be, and you’re giving yourself a hard time. Maybe you didn’t even try. Can you really be objective and say this with 100% confidence?
• What does it mean to be good? For example, being good at cooking can mean that you’re able to feed yourself every day, or it can mean that you’re a professional chef. Which one of these is it for you?
Reasons Why You Think You’re Not Good At Anything
There are many reasons why you hold these beliefs in the first place. Your personality traits can make you prone to being overly self-critical, or it can stem from your upbringing and life experiences.
It’s usually a combination of all three that makes you feel like you’re not enough.
Recognizing where this way of thinking comes from can help deal with it more easily. Keep in mind that all of these causes are intertwined, and there isn’t just one reason.
1. Low self-esteem
Two of the main culprits for these thoughts are low self-esteem and perfectionism. Usually, they work in tandem to make you feel like whatever you do, you’ll never be enough.
Self-esteem is the way you perceive yourself and judge your own value. It’s about recognizing your personal value, importance, and self-worth, as well as respecting yourself.
A healthy level of self-esteem lets you appreciate yourself regardless of what you can do. When your self-esteem is low, you doubt yourself and your worth. It causes limiting beliefs of what is possible for you to achieve.
Unless you recognize and work on dealing with low self-esteem, it can cause a downward spiral of anxiety and depression. Unchecked, it leads to withdrawing from challenges and your social life, resulting in even lower self-worth.
Perfectionism means striving for perfection in everything you do and being critical of yourself. It leads to all-or-nothing thinking – unless something is perfect, it’s worthless.
This leads to shying away from things you assume you won’t immediately be good at because you don’t see the point of doing anything if it’s not perfect. The concept of ‘good enough’ doesn’t exist for you.
Often this self-imposed pressure results in procrastination, paralysis, and an inability to take action. When you are a perfectionist, you feel overwhelmed and intimidated by everything you’re not sure about.
Because you hold yourself to such a high standard of perfection for things you enjoy doing, you gradually start losing the joy you felt. You would probably never judge your co-workers or family members as harshly as you do yourself.
Bullying and abuse lead to low self-esteem. Being belittled about what you were like and what you enjoyed growing up leads to self-doubt and rejection of your own personality and interest.
Negative early experiences teach you to be embarrassed of yourself and your feelings and to downplay your accomplishments and skills. If someone who didn’t go through these experiences had your skills, they would consider themselves a jack of all trades.
If you were overprotected as a child and your loved ones did everything for you, it may have led to feelings of inadequacy and doubt in your capabilities.
Psychological reasons for why we act a certain way are complex. Sometimes mental health issues prevent us from moving forward, and sometimes our beliefs are so deeply entrenched that we don’t even consider them a problem.
Your life experience so far greatly affects your self-confidence. If you remember your failures on your career path easier than your past successes, it’s going to hold you back.
What we often fail to take into account is that from the first time we fail at something, we start learning. A miss teaches you faster than an instant hit, but our desire for immediate success discourages us.
Fear because of past failures can make you give up before you even begin. It leads to losing motivation when you’re unhappy with the results instead of persevering and getting better.
It causes the faulty thinking that if you failed once, you’re going to fail again. Instead of asking yourself, “How can I use my mistakes to learn?” you ask yourself, “Why am I not good at anything?”
5. Negative self-talk
• “I don’t have any talents.”
• “There is no point in trying something when I’ll fail anyway.”
• “No one cares about me.”
• “I’m not interesting.”
• “Everyone except me is successful.”
Do some of these sound familiar? This is just a small sample of things we say to ourselves that discourage us. Thoughts like these can occupy you and stay in your mind for a long time.
Negative self-talk isn’t reality, but the more you say it, the more you start to believe it. And once you believe something, you act like it’s true. So if you believe you’re not good at anything, why even do it?
The only way to fight this is to change negative thoughts into more positive ones. Every time you think of something that puts you down, find a counterargument and repeat it.
When you think, “I’m not interesting,” make yourself think of three interesting things about yourself. If you can’t come up with three, start with one, but make sure to fight back against negative thoughts .
Is It OK To Not Be Good At Things?
You are good at things, and we’ll talk about it more later, but it’s important to know that you don’t have to be good at things to lead a happy and meaningful life.
We’re taught that finding your purpose or recognizing your dream is necessary if you’re to lead a full life. This is meant to inspire you to rise above mediocrity, stop being ordinary, and become someone exceptional.
Some people measure their happiness by their accomplishments, feel strongly about their purpose, and direct all their energy into fulfilling it. They have a clear picture of what they want to achieve and how to get there.
Whether it means to be someone rich, someone with their own Wikipedia page, or someone who makes a profound impact on the world depends on the person, but it means that they have a goal and strive towards it.
However, not everyone wants to live like this, and that’s okay.
On the other hand, some people find their happiness in small things and everyday moments. Not everyone has to have a purpose or a dream, but their lives still have meaning. You can be happy just being a human being.
Perhaps you tried searching for your life purpose but couldn’t find anything you were willing to dedicate yourself to. Trying something that isn’t for you and moving on doesn’t mean giving up.
If accomplishments give you happiness, you can live to pursue them, but if they only put pressure on you, you don’t have to. We’re led to believe that you need to have a certain level of skill in everything you do, and that’s simply not true.
Normal human activities such as art, singing, writing and other ways we express ourselves are natural and necessary. And yet, in childhood, we’re told that we must be exceptionally good at them to do them at all.
Not being at an expert level of knowing how to do something doesn’t mean that you can’t have interests, skills, and enjoy the things you do your whole life.
What Are Some Things You’re Good At?
Being good at something makes you think of being talented at something obvious and knowing how to do it. When job-hunting, you learn that these measurable abilities are called hard skills.
They’re things like being able to speak a foreign language, drive, use certain software, or career-specific skills. They are teachable and can be learned with some hard work.
On the other hand, there are soft skills. When you’re not writing a resume, they’re called personality traits.
Life coaches or career coaches can help build these skills, but mostly they’re something you’re either born with or acquire through experience over a long period of time. They are complicated, if not impossible, to teach.
Soft skills involve emotional intelligence. They have a great impact on our everyday lives, and some are highly sought after on the job market. Thinking about personality qualities as skills can be life-changing.
These are the things you might be good at without being aware of it. We rarely even think about these as skills in everyday life, but that’s what they are.
This isn’t a full list, but you get a picture. The next time you’re applying for a job, mention some of these in your skill set if you have them:
• Critical thinking
• Emotional Intelligence
What Can You Do To Be Better At Things?
In a single sentence, you could say that the way to be better at things is to invest time and effort into something you’re passionate about.
Put this way, this process sounds both abstract and impossible. However, when we break it into steps and see what it all means, it will put things into perspective – you’ll see that it’s manageable and something to look forward to.
1. Become confident
It might seem surprising to find confidence at the top of the list. After all, you expect to gain confidence from becoming good at something, not that you need it to even begin. Building confidence is the key to being successful in what you want to achieve.
The reason for this is that a lack of confidence is what stops you from taking steps to improve yourself. You don’t need to believe in yourself 100% to start working on yourself, but you need to have at least enough faith in yourself to believe it’s possible.
Stop negative self-talk
We already mentioned how negative self-talk – the insults you tell yourself – prevents you from believing in yourself and working on your personal development.
This slowly improves as you achieve things that prove your negative beliefs wrong, but you need to learn to shut them up as soon as they appear. With enough practice in ignoring these thoughts, you’ll start believing in your self-worth.
Your perception of yourself and reality are different. Your inner critic might be inspired by someone from our past who was overly judgmental, or it might be the voice of your anxiety.
Either way, overcoming these self-limiting beliefs is possible when you decide you don’t want to listen to them anymore. Simply refuse to believe them, and it will become a little easier every time.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Social pressure can be the cause of anxiety. A lot of people live in accordance with some prescribed milestones of how life is supposed to go: go to college after high school, immediately get a career, get married, and have kids.
When this doesn’t work out, self-doubt and worry about not reaching your full potential sets in. It makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you when you compare yourself to other people.
Having some doubts is normal, but remember that failure and success are about learning. There’s more to life than success.
Things people tell you about their lives are never the full story. You don’t see the struggle behind it. People don’t want to admit to their failures and only talk about their achievements.
This is especially prevalent on social media. Perfect pictures don’t show all the failed attempts, and even the ones that are posted are filtered.
2. Be interested
Some initial interest is absolutely necessary to begin working on something. Even progress isn’t enough if you don’t like your skills. However, don’t use a lack of interest as an excuse. It’s easier to give up than to try.
Lack of interest
Have you ever worked really hard at something, yet you could never improve at it? If this has happened to you, I bet it’s something you were made to do or had to do for some reason, such as your parents making you learn the piano.
My first piece of advice is that if you hate it, don’t do it, whatever it is. Hating something you do will lead to giving up and self-loathing.
Find something else, or if it’s something that’s required for some reason, find a way to like it in some way. For instance, you can develop an interest in a skill if it’s something that can be very useful.
Think about something that you like to do, no matter if you’re good at it or not, and think about what it is that you like about it. For example, if you like video games, why do you choose them over another type of entertainment?
Possible reasons might be because you like active rest, you enjoy problem-solving, you like advancing to the next level, etc. What other activities have those qualities?
By examining what you already like to do, you can find out what other things might interest you and, more importantly, what new skills and new hobbies you might have an aptitude for.
3. Take action
Now that you know what you have an interest in, it’s time to start. There’s only one step: action. Just do it. That’s all there is to it. Don’t overanalyze and try to get it done perfectly. Just show up, and keep going. You don’t have to enjoy every moment.
How do you find motivation? You don’t. Motivation comes after, not before action. The results make you keep going, not some abstract desire to achieve something.
As you do it, you’ll get better and want to keep doing it, and it’s impossible not to get better. It’s best if we look at an example.
Let’s say you’ve decided you want to start working out. This is something people notoriously give up on. Those who don’t grow to love it. How do you become the second type of person?
First of all, you have to choose a type of physical activity that you at least don’t hate. It’s best, of course, that you like it, but it’s enough that you don’t spend the entire time working out waiting for it to end.
Now that you know what you’re doing, you just have to show up. Being consistent is everything. Have a plan and stick to it.
If you’ve decided to go to the gym three times a week, that’s what you should do. One excuse turns into the next, and that’s how people give up. It’s better to show up and have a second-rate workout than not show up at all.
The point of consistency is that it builds habits. When going to the gym becomes just something you do and not something you have to make yourself do, you’ll know you’re on the right path.
You need to put effort into something you want to become better at. What this means is that you should do your best. Maybe what you can do when you only start doing something seems like nothing, but at that point, it’s the best you can do.
We already said that comparing yourself to other people only leads to anxiety. Other people’s results can inspire you, but if you notice that you’re feeling envious and discouraged, you should stop thinking about others.
Your own best efforts are all it takes, and as you progress, what seemed unreachable at one point becomes too easy. There will be days when your best won’t be so good and days when you surprise yourself.
Now comes the fun part.
4. Have passion
We often think that the only kind of passion is something we’re born with. The childhood dream you found as a five-year-old, and the life-long desires you always carry with you.
This type of passion is something that inspires you and makes you get lost in your own world. It helps you identify your interests and aptitudes early and choose the direction of your own life.
This isn’t the only kind of passion, however.
Passion through effort
Passion can also develop by consistently doing something and seeing the results of your work. In this way, your own actions are what inspire you.
As we said, taking action regularly until it becomes a habit always gives you results. Not improving is impossible if you regularly give your full effort to something you want to get good at.
To return to the working out example, if you run three times a week for several months and give it your best, your speed, endurance, and health will improve. There’s no other possibility.
During that time, you will develop a passion for running. Practice will give you enthusiasm. Results will give you passion. You’ll be one of those people everyone looks at and says, “Oh, it’s easy for you because you actually like running.”
Skill is 99% work and 1% talent. Talent might make it somewhat easier to get better, but no one gets better without work. The best singer or athlete isn’t the one who is the most talented but the one who’s the best at practicing.
Impatience to be immediately good at something is detrimental to improving. It takes time, persistence, and patience to become skilled at something.
If you really want to be good at something, you have to commit to doing it regularly and to the best of your ability. You have to persevere and not give up when it gets hard or when it stops being new and exciting.
Keep going even if you fail at first. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and find where your talents really lie. Something you like to do might become something you don’t like or something you love. Something you can do can become something only you can do.
The final step is to make your environment a good place for your new progress and motivation.
You worked on your confidence before you started, and you only got better at it as you got better at your skills. But it’s also important to surround yourself with people who are supportive, encouraging, and celebrate your success.
Avoid people who put you down and make you feel worthless and untalented. They’re even more toxic than your inner critic. We tend to believe people’s bad opinions of us easier than good.
Learn to accept compliments, and don’t listen to people who are envious, unfriendly, and rude.
Not dismissing compliments will feel fake at first because you don’t believe that the other person means it. If you continue, you’ll start believing them and begin thinking about yourself in the same way others perceive you.
Practice Makes Perfect
You asked, “Why am I not good at anything?” The truth is, you have plenty of things you’re good at, but they’re so normal for you that you don’t even realize they’re your strong points.
Even if you weren’t good at anything, that’s okay. People’s lives aren’t valued by things they can do but by what kind of people they are.
If you do want to improve in a specific skill, there are steps you can take to accomplish it. It takes effort, time, and commitment, but it’s more than possible to succeed.