About Anxiety

Why Am I so Unlucky?

Erika Krull, MSEd, LMHP

Written by

Erika Krull, MSEd, LMHP

Last updated September 6, 2022

Why Am I so Unlucky?

Do you often feel down on your luck? Are you always catching bad breaks? There’s an old joke about focusing on the pothole in the road. The more you stare at it, the better your chances of driving straight into it. 

Maybe you’re destined to be unlucky. Or Perhaps you’re making your own bad luck. If that’s the case, here’s some good news. You can create good fortune for yourself, too. 

We’ll start by reviewing a few possible reasons you feel so unlucky, and wrap up with a few tips for getting some positive momentum. 

See if you recognize any of the following situations in your life.

You’re living passively

Here’s the perspective of a person who lives passively:

  • You feel like you have little control over your life. 
  • You’re another cog in the machine, just reacting to the things that happen to you. 
  • You wait for others to make the first move. 
  • The world seems turned against you. 

If some of these ideas seem familiar, you may have adopted a passive mindset. You may have believed that you didn’t have much personal power at some point in your life. This passive approach may have developed because of an upsetting life event, stressful times in childhood, or broken relationships. 

Being passive is one way to feel safe and protected. But you may also feel like life is passing you by. You watch others prosper as you feel overlooked and out of luck. Other people have good things happen to them, and you get stuck with the short end of the stick. This can all become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

You focus on negative things in your life 

Sometimes we focus so much on the troubles in our lives, and we overlook big things that are going well. If you’re feeling unlucky right now, your eyes may be more focused on problems than positives. Humans are born with protective instincts, and one of them is to be cautious and pessimistic when we feel uncertain. You zero in on the threat without noticing everything else that’s going well. 

When you take that viewpoint a little too seriously, it can get out of balance. Going to work, having plenty of food, and being in good health may seem like a boring lifestyle. Despite how positive it is to have a stable life, you may dismiss it and focus on the problems. You tend to expect negative things in your life, making them much easier to see every day. 

Your identity centers around difficulties in your life 

When one life struggle leads to another, misfortune may become a defining feature of your life. 

Some people are resilient after negative events in their life. But if you feel like you can’t escape your bad luck, you may react with either learned helplessness or a victim mindset. 

Learned helplessness

Learned helplessness can develop after facing repeated stressful events. These situations are out of your control and may be traumatic. A person who has endured years of abuse, poor health, or difficult financial hardships may feel this way. It may seem hard to believe that anything better could happen. But it is a mindset that can be unlearned. 

Victim mindset

You may feel like others are responsible for the difficulties in your life. This viewpoint is about seeking attention and is not the same as learned helplessness. If you see yourself as an unlucky victim, the attention may make you feel valued and important. It can be hard to give up this habit if you don’t often get recognition in other ways. 

The company you keep feels unlucky, too 

When you’re tuned in to misery and suffering, you tend to keep people around with a similar outlook. This perpetuates negativity to everyone in the group. 

You don’t enjoy bad things, but you’ve come to expect them. Others may commiserate and agree with you. When people relate to your bad luck, it’s tough to disagree. It’s much easier to stick with an unlucky life and friends who seem to understand. 

You ruminate over your bad luck 

It’s possible to go through a negative experience and move past it over time. This is harder when your mind keeps circling around the events. Thinking repeatedly about the same thing is called rumination. Rumination can engrain a thought into your mind and cause emotional anguish. 

For example, imagine that you tripped in front of your coworkers while carrying several things in your hands. It’s understandable to feel embarrassed right away. But if you relived it in your mind several times and felt worse afterward, you may have been ruminating. This can reinforce the idea that bad things happen to you. 

How to Improve Your Luck

Improving your luck boils down to changing your mindset. By redefining what’s already around you, you can start feeling luckier right away. Here are some actionable tips to make your own luck in the world.

Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions

It’s easy to get caught up in the blame game. When things go wrong, it can feel better to point the finger at someone else. Instead, take control of the things you can manage: your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You can manage how you respond to problems, even if you can’t prevent the problems themselves. 

It’s OK to feel frustrated or disappointed when things don’t go your way. Own and accept your reaction, but remind yourself the story isn’t over. Consider how you can be proactive to make your situation better. 

Review the positive things in your life

Take time to write down or draw a long list of positive things in your life. You can include memories, accomplishments, objects you own, places you’ve visited, and people you care about. Consider the skill and time it takes to create the things you use every day. Think about all the skills and abilities you’ve acquired in life.

The longer this list becomes, the more positivity you can appreciate in your life. Discouraging thoughts take up less room when you focus on the positive aspects of your life.

Push through difficult times, even if you want to give up

People who persevere create better luck by learning from their experiences. When they keep working and trying, they put themselves in a stronger position to reach their goals. 

For example, a person who feels unlucky may struggle in a job search. They may only set up one interview and feel discouraged before they even go through it. If they don’t get the job, they may quickly give up on their search. 

But a person who perseveres may aim for doing five or more interviews. They know they’ll get rejections, but they’ll learn from each one and gain confidence. This improves their chances of eventually landing a job they want.

Luck is a state of mind

Bad things happen to everyone, and we all feel like we’ve run out of luck sometimes. It’s a matter of perspective. When you feel like everything’s going wrong, you have the power to shift your perspective. Change your attitude, take action, and watch your luck change, too. 

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

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Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient


You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

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