People who feel like they’re failing at life usually display these 7 behaviors (without realizing it)

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As humans, we sometimes lose objectivity. 

Sometimes, we can get so caught up in thoughts and ruminations that we become irrational… and begin to feel like we don’t measure up to everyone else. 

Nobody is immune to the occasional bout of self-doubt. 

And it doesn’t help that we’re constantly exposed to people (both strangers and peers) living their best lives on the internet. 

In this article, I’ll take you through the common behaviors of people who feel like they’re failing at life. 

If you recognize these signs, you can start working on the necessary adjustments. 

Let’s get to it! 

1) They constantly compare themselves to others 

In case you haven’t noticed, we are living through the golden age of comparisons

As touched on, the internet and social media are saturated with people posting the best versions of themselves, however exaggerated. 

If we spend a good portion of our days idly scrolling through the limitless content of Instagram, the tendency is to eventually compare ourselves to the people we’re seeing. 

If you’re already predisposed to feeling inadequate, scrolling can reinforce negative feelings and damage your mental health further. 

Think about it: if you’re feeling like a failure and you see all your best friends from high school happily posting pictures of their loving families or their new cars or houses or their vacations in the French Riviera, this is bound to stir up some unfavorable comparisons. 

If this all sounds familiar, moderating your daily internet usage is probably a wise idea. 

2) They avoid social situations 

I remember avoiding my ten-year high school reunion a few years ago. 

I simply felt like I didn’t quite measure up to my classmates–and was really insecure about it.  

They were all settled down with kids and mortgages while I was struggling to make ends meet, still unsure of what I truly wanted to do at that point in my life. 

My business had failed and I felt lost. I had to start over–and wasn’t ready to explain that fact to other people.  

I knew that being exposed to my peers, many of whom were successful and happy, would make me feel worse about myself, so I dodged it altogether–and other social situations like it. 

I feared being judged and scrutinized, so I’d almost instinctively choose avoidance. 

These days, I now fully realize that growth is linear… that there is no shame in having a different path from everyone else–a sentiment that has given me comfort and confidence

3) They neglect their health

When you have self-defeatist tendencies, it’s easy to lose motivation in life. 

This can manifest as ignoring your physical, mental, or emotional health

You might feel too overwhelmed, even unworthy, to engage in self-care practices… so you slowly wither away. 

I’ve been down in the dumps at various periods in my adult life; and since I felt I had nothing to lose, I’d often pursue self-destructive practices

Some days, I’d get blackout drunk and take recreational drugs with little moderation; which made me feel exponentially more depressed and anxious for the days (sometimes weeks and months) following those binges. 

I had no motivation and drive to be better; I delayed tasks and pushed away people and key opportunities that could have helped me out. 

I felt I was undeserving of success. 

Thankfully, I began to find my bearings in life and eventually snapped out of that funk. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky as I am. 

4) They feel overwhelmed with self-criticism 

When you feel like you’re failing at life, you become your biggest critic–and not in a particularly constructive way. 

You might label yourself a loser, one who is incapable of doing better, who is perpetually in the wrong. 

I’ve met many people who, fresh off abusive relationships, had almost zero self-worth.

They would be excessively hard on themselves, permanently, stubbornly identifying as inadequate failures in life. 

Sound familiar? 

Maybe you’ll even purposely set goals that are extremely lofty or idealistic–and when you invariably fall short, your feelings of incompetence are resoundingly confirmed. 

You’re unconsciously setting yourself up for defeat–a practice far more common than you think.

Any level-headed person realizes that making mistakes is an essential part of the human experience. 

To err is human, after all. 

It’s how you bounce back from those shortcomings and blunders that will count in the end. 

Remember, resilience and persistence are defining qualities of any successful person; and dwelling on mistakes is not.  

5) They downplay or refuse to recognize their achievements

I know people who are, objectively speaking, highly accomplished or skilled, or both, yet rather than focus on the many positives in their lives, they’ll overlook them, and hone in on the negative

This means that, in their heads, they’ll minimize their successes and feel constantly unsatisfied, shifting their focus on what they haven’t achieved or what they perceive to be lacking. 

This is no way to live. 

True happiness and fulfillment should genuinely come from within; it shouldn’t be relative to how everyone else is doing in life… or what else is out there. 

When you’re constantly chasing after something else instead of being content with what you do have, you’ll never truly be satisfied. 

6) They have a fear of trying new things 

When you feel like a failure, you tend to want to stay within the confines of your comfort zone

Why? Because trying something new carries with it the risk of failure–something you’re just not up for. 

So you live life excessively safe, limiting your potential for growth and success in the process. 

You’d rather settle for mediocrity than have to deal with the prospect of failure–or worse, embarrassment. 

You feel your ego can’t handle the latter. 

Any person who has achieved anything of value in life will tell you that a degree of risk will always be involved

So if you don’t even try, you end up doing yourself a disservice–which will inevitably trigger feelings of regret later on. 

Not good.

7) They obsessively overthink 

As established, people who feel like failures are prone to overthinking

Instead of sucking it up and moving forward, their thoughts can consume and debilitate them, preventing them from making meaningful progress in life. 

Maybe they’ll ruminate over past mistakes from years ago, painstakingly replaying the same self-defeating thoughts. 

Or maybe they’ll worry excessively about the future, about the potential of making further mistakes, so they don’t move and remain stagnant. 

As someone who has quite an extensive history of overthinking, I know firsthand how paralyzing frantic thoughts can be when it comes to moving forward and taking action. 

Focus on your journey, and block everything else out. 

Once you break the cycle, you’ll be far better off. I promise.  

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

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