Why Do I Feel Broken And How Can I Snap Out Of It?

Updated August 16, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Before we start, you are not broken, and you are not alone if you feel stress or strain that’s affecting your life. No matter what your age, background, or education level, there are times when we all have negative thoughts or feel emotionally drained and mentally exhausted.  For some people, it can cause feelings of being broken and it may be difficult to know how to deal with those emotions. 

Television, magazines, and social media often show representations of “the perfect life” with people who seem to have everything together. Fit bodies, nice homes, and expensive vacations are the image that many people see and, unfortunately, often compare themselves to. All of this comparison has the potential to make someone feel bad about themselves.

Realistically, however, no one experiences perfection in every, or any, aspect of life every single day.  If you have found yourself feeling less than adequate, or broken, you may wonder why and may want to know how you can snap out of those feelings.

The reasons for feeling broken vary from person to person. Some people feel broken because of things they experienced in childhood or after the loss of a friend or loved one.  Others may feel broken after losing a job or a home, or even after experiencing a serious illness.

Although it may feel overwhelming, or even frightening, it’s important to know that you are not alone.  Everyone deals with feelings of brokenness and pain.  Being able to recognize these feelings and knowing when to seek help so that you can heal from the hurt and live an emotionally healthy life is crucial for you long-term wellbeing and happiness.

Signs Of Feeling Broken

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Feeling down or “broken” can be really hard to cope with alone, but a therapist can help. In therapy, you can gain a better understanding of the “broken” feeling and figure out ways to improve your happiness. On top of that, a therapist can help with anxiety, relationships, or fostering more helpful habits to make changes to your overall lifestyle. Experiencing pain is a normal part of our life experiences from time to time.  We live in a world that is fast-paced and often unpredictable.  At times, it can cause you to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to expect next in life.

Feeling overwhelming sadness, stress, or having altered eating or sleeping patterns are not uncommon in people who express feeling broken. Some people report feeling physical symptoms, such as body aches and digestive issues. Feelings of guilt, shame, or difficulty concentrating are also signs of emotional strain. If you think “I feel broken,” you might notice these signs in your mind or body. Excessive crying and numbness or irritability could also take place. If these symptoms persevere, they may be indicators of a depressive episode or disorder.

Reasons You Might Feel Broken

Feeling broken usually means that you feel like there’s something you don’t know how to change but want to; there are usually additional words or thought patterns that can help you get a fuller picture of what’s going on and how to address it. Though this is only a small list of possibilities, feeling broken may more accurately indicate:

  1. Low Self-Esteem. Low self-esteem can lead to feeling broken, as low self-esteem can make you feel as if there is something uniquely wrong with you. Low self-esteem might make you feel as though you have some sort of tragic flaw and that you are uniquely unlovable and unfixable. This is not true, and heightened self-esteem can be established in time.
  2. Underdeveloped Communication Skills. Not knowing how to communicate your wants and needs can be tough in today’s world. It may lead to taking on more than you can handle, which can cause overwhelm, or it could cause issues, like resentment, in interpersonal relationships.
  3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: While some people may experience a traumatic event and have no long-term symptoms, others may develop a mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental illness that involves an emotional response to a traumatic event, such as abuse*, neglect, witnessing a natural disaster or being exposed to combat.  It can cause one to feel overwhelmed and experience symptoms that negatively influence their ability to complete daily tasks.  Although PTSD is a serious condition, it is possible to get help and learn to manage the symptoms and learn to cope effectively.
  4. Inadequate Support Systems. Inadequate support systems can make it difficult to overcome any obstacles you might face, which can lead to feeling as though you are broken. With the proper emotional support systems in place, however, you are far less likely to feel this way because you know you are loved by many people in your life.
  5. Difficulty Coping. Inadequate coping skills can also make you feel as though you are broken because you may struggle to handle the demands of daily life. This doesn’t mean you are broken, though; it simply means you need to learn more effective, healthy coping skills. Inadequate coping skills can sometimes interact with disorders such as substance use disorders or eating disorders**, and new skills are often discovered in treatment. Substance use treatment options may include inpatient rehab, counseling, or a combination of both, depending on your specific needs. Please contact SAMHSA by phone at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the SAMHSA website for resources and treatment information.

*Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) if you witness or experience abuse of any kind.

**Eating disorders are complex, but help is out there. Please contact the NEDA hotline at 1-800-931-2237 Monday-Thursday from 11 AM-9 PM EST or on Fridays from 9 AM - 5 PM or use the online chat option on their website.

For some, one of the most important steps in dealing with brokenness is learning to accept that, although you cannot control everything that happens in your life, you can learn to control how you respond to events and to cope with things that cause pain in a healthy way.

Also, in addition to PTSD and substance use disorders, other concerns, like depression, anxiety, and other conditions, could instigate symptoms that lead to feeling less than optimal. These conditions, to be clear, do not mean that someone’s broken. They can be treated with the care of a mental health professional. Remember, feeling as though you don’t know how to change something that’s going on in your life doesn’t mean that change isn’t possible. You can move forward from this feeling, and that’s true even if you don’t have the answer when it comes to how to stop feeling that way right now.

Moving Away From Brokenness

Self-compassion matters. There are steps you can take to make yourself feel more whole, even in the midst of a storm of fear and self-doubt. Brokenness usually feels insurmountable when you are in the middle of it, but feeling broken for a short time does not mean you’ll feel that way forever.  Instead, feeling broken can be a temporary stop on your way to healing; acknowledging the feelings could even be the first step to a life that feels like something better. Here are some self-care practices you can implement into your life so that you can more resiliently move through the ups and downs of this journey.

Take Deep Breaths. Before you allow yourself to fall into a spiral of self-doubt and fear, take some time to breathe. Breathe in deeply, using your diaphragm, and then exhale deeply until you’ve released as much air as possible. Deep breaths can bring calm, allowing you to think more clearly about yourself and your situation. This is an in-the-moment coping skill more than an ongoing solution, but it’s a good one to keep in your toolbox.

Practice Acceptance. For a few moments, allow yourself to feel. Feel the sadness, fear, doubt, or whatever negative thoughts that may be rising up, and accept that it is how you are feeling in that moment without accepting that it is true or factual. Feelings can be addressed and deserve to be addressed even if they are not facts; they are there to tell you something and help you care for yourself. It may help to accept that you may not always have positive thoughts. Even though making other people happy may give you a sense of fulfillment, it is just as important to care for yourself and to accept that your needs are important. 

Identify Your Strengths. Even in the darkest times, you have strengths. Your strength might not feel like much, and it can be as simple as being able to get up in the morning and feed your cat, but it can be something to celebrate when you are going through a hard time. In that case, being able to get up in the morning is a strength! Being able to brush your teeth gets a checkmark, too. You can also recognize things like personality traits as strengths, but don’t hesitate to celebrate the (seemingly) small stuff.

Practice Gratitude. Look around you and notice at least one thing you can feel grateful for. Again, this might be something as small as the sunlight warming your arm through a window or the ability to walk from your bed to the fridge each morning. Whatever it is, find at least one thing – however small it may seem – to be grateful for. While not a cure, it can be supplemental and positive for your health.

Develop A Support System.  Feelings of brokenness can feel worse if you isolate yourself from others.  While you may not feel like opening yourself up to several people, it is important to have a support system of at least a few people who you can talk with and count on for emotional support and encouragement.  Talk to a trusted friend or family member.  You may want to seek the counsel of a minister or other religious mentor or consult with a counselor or therapist.  Additionally, joining a support group may be helpful.

Seek Professional Help. Feeling broken may indicate a need for a professional therapist’s help. This is true if symptoms make it tough to function on a daily basis or if you’re not sure that life is worth living. Feeling broken can turn into feeling depressed, so it’s not a feeling that should be taken lightly. If it’s persistent, seek help from a therapist. Many of the tips used above are best in conjunction with therapy, and it is not just okay but human to need help. Asking for support is a way to help yourself. Therapy doesn’t replace crisis care and is a process, but it’s one that’s worthwhile and proven effective for many life concerns.

Improving Your Self-Worth

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For some, feeling broken pairs with low self-esteem or self-worth. Learning to truly understand your worth and believing you are valuable may help alleviate some feelings of brokenness in that scenario. Improving self-esteem is a process and it must be deliberate to be effective. Put forth intentional efforts to focus on something positive about yourself and your life each day. It may be as simple as reminding yourself that you are a good friend, or that you are a good cook. Try to improve one area of your life monthly or weekly. For example, you may want to learn to organize things in your house so that you feel more in control of your environment. Speak positive affirmations into your own life. For instance, tell yourself, “I am worthy,” “I will not allow brokenness to control my life,” “I am good enough.” Although these steps may seem small, they can have a powerful impact on your emotional well-being with time and consistency.

How BetterHelp Can Help When You Feel Broken

In some instances, a counselor is the most likely source of help when you are feeling broken and overwhelmed. Counselors can help you create a self-treatment regimen that supports increased self-esteem and a healthier self-image, which may lessen the likelihood of feeling broken. A therapist can also help you improve communication skills in order to develop and cultivate a stronger support system.

Online therapy is extremely useful for people who are undergoing a rough patch, as online therapists may be able to respond to messages more quickly than a therapist who operates entirely out of an office. Online therapy can also allow you to speak to a therapist from the privacy and comfort of your own home. BetterHelp makes it easy to start working with a therapist faster in many cases, and it’s also often a more affordable opportunity to access services.

Below, some BetterHelp users describe their experiences.

Counselor Reviews

“All my life, I felt broken and incomplete. Donamarie helped me find the missing pieces of myself I didn’t know existed and I am better off than I’ve ever been. I can’t thank her enough for her help.”

“I finished my journey for now with Waynette and it was difficult, but awesome. I was feeling pretty broken when I started and not even sure life was worth the effort it took. She helped me find my way back to a place of happiness and now I can again enjoy participating in life with the ones I care about and who care about me. I felt all alone when I started, but you really made me feel like I had an ally and helped me walk through some very difficult trauma from my past in order to find some closure. Thank you, Waynette, for your kindness, support, and wisdom. I don’t think I could have gotten through it all without it.”

Moving Forward

It can be difficult to move past feelings of brokenness. When you feel as though you don’t deserve to get help, it can be difficult to move past your feelings and improve your day-to-day routine. With a little bit of help, however, you can not only leave behind feeling broken, but you can also improve your self-image, build your self-worth, and create a life that excites you. Take the first step today.

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