Instead of asking ‘what’s wrong with me?’, ask what’s right instead


As women, and especially as parents, we spend a lot of time and energy lamenting, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ We tend to focus on what we perceive to be our negatives and think things like: ‘Why do I yell all the time? Why can’t I get in shape? Manage my money better? Get my sh*t together?’

In other words, we spend a great deal of our time and energy wondering ‘what’s wrong with me?

What’s right with me?

But what if we forgot about ‘what’s wrong with me’ for a moment and considered ‘what’s right?‘ How much better would you feel if you spent your days thinking:

‘I’m really glad I’ve got a wicked sense of humour and enjoy making my friends and family laugh and smile’; or

‘I love that I get to spend part of each day caring for others and showing them love because kindness is my thing.’

Psychology for many years has been pretty focused – like you and I – on what’s wrong.   We became experts on illness and dysfunction and what happens when people get broken. Then 15 years ago Positive Psychology emerged and we began to ask the question, ‘What’s right with us?’

What makes us grow? Bounce back? Be happy? Stay well? Flourish?’

What makes us win at life?

Two psychologists, Martin E Seligman and Christopher Peterson, got particularly interested in this topic and they spent a good chunk of time putting together a framework for understanding ‘character strengths’ – the attributes that we all have that bring us happiness when we use them.  Things like ‘kindness’ and ‘love of learning’ and ‘hope’ and ‘humour’ and ‘zest.’

There’s a questionnaire that you can complete online, the VIA Strengths Survey, that the team developed from this research. Many coaches (like myself) use the results from this questionnaire to help you to understand your strengths and to use them more in everyday life.

What's right with me

Why would we want to do that?

Because we know that understanding and using your strengths helps to:

1. Increase your happiness and wellbeing

2. Increase your confidence

3. Build your self esteem

4. Create energy and vitality

5. Reduce stress

6. Build your resilience.

Pretty cool huh?

Knowing and using your strengths is a big steps towards knowing what’s right with you, and that’s a powerful piece of knowledge.

This is helpful too:4 lessons in strengths-based parenting


Life-changing knowledge

When we focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong, we feel confident, not despondent. We experience empowerment, not frustration, and we take steps towards achieving our goals rather than retreating into that ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s all too hard’ place.

Discovering and learning more about my strengths has been a game changer for me. It has explained a lot about why I enjoy doing the things that I do and why I love certain tasks and loathe others.

Knowing my strengths and what’s right with me has given me the confidence to write my blog, broadcast the Potential Psychology podcast and to pour my energy into working with other women online. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am doing what’s right for me and I get to experience everyday the satisfaction that comes with that.

Learn more about your strengths

If you’d like to learn more about your strengths, the VIA Strengths Survey is free and only takes a few minutes to complete. If you’d like to learn more about it or to chat with me about your results, complete the survey at my professional access link here and your results will be sent to both you and me. I’ll drop you an email with some further questions and information and we can have a mini coaching chat to uncover more about what’s right with you.

What do you think is right with you?

Image by Caique Silva

Written by Ellen Jackson

Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology is a psychologist who does things differently. She writes about everyday people and why we do what we do. When she’s not tapping at the laptop she coaches, she teaches and she helps workplaces to solve their people problems. Ellen has been making online friends since before the internet had pictures. You can join her tribe on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

We’re very social

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