One of the most common requests that I receive from clients is to help them figure out what is wrong with them. This makes perfect sense. If my life isn’t what I want it to be, then there must be something wrong with me….right? Well, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. What? How is that even possible? This is the case because of a trick of human nature. We are both rational beings and emotional beings. The rational part thinks logically. It sees ‘problem’ and assumes there must be ’cause of problem’ and looks for ‘solution to problem’. The emotional part doesn’t think, it just feels the pain of the situation….”ouch!”
First of all, let me say that there is nothing necessarily wrong with trying to figure out what is wrong with us. It is a very pragmatic first step into the world of healing. However, it is just a step, not the journey, and certainly not the ultimate solution.
When we are seeking for the solution of our suffering by looking for what is wrong with us, we are taking a rational approach. Using reason, we can challenge distorted thinking and explore how we got where we are and why we feel the way we do. These can be very helpful in changing thinking and making meaning out of our pain, but it does not go all the way. We all have some issues that are emotional in nature, and these issues can only be worked through by connecting with the feelings associated with those issues. Reason may tell you where to start and why, but it can’t complete the healing process.
I believe the biggest problem with the desire to find out what is wrong with me is that it has hidden within it the assumption that I do in fact have a problem that needs to be fixed and that I am somehow imperfect and flawed. Whereas this is logically true to the rational mind, it is a toxic feeling to the emotional mind. Therefore, the very existence of this question points to a deep emotional pain. This pain, whether it is conscious or not, profoundly affects the choices we make in life, leading to unhealthy habits and painful life situations. This line of thinking is typically hard to accept, especially for those of us who primarily inhabit the rational mind. However, I have found it to be the case time and time again.
In response to the question of what is wrong with me, I believe we should spend less time answering that question directly and more time exploring what is the process in us that prompts the question. A good place to start is to look in the mirror, become aware of your feelings, and ask, “What is right with me?”