Those toxic feelings you have could be just what you need to be your best self
I don’t care who you are or what you say, you’re a mess. A hot mess. We all are. Wanna know why? We’re human.
And nobody, I mean nobody, has it all together. But even though this is an undeniable truth, most of us still feel the need to pretend. We say things like, “I’ve come to accept (fill in the blank),” “I don’t care if people think I’m ugly, fat, lazy, a bad parent, a bad person (fill in more blanks to fit your personal life),” or “I've totally overcome the fear, pain, jealousy, or anger of my past.”
My question to you is have you really accepted what you say you have? Do you really not care? Have you really overcome those feelings?
If you have indeed found the secret to this magical realm of inner peace that I myself have never visited, then I bow in homage to your greatness.
But I still believe most of you who say this may be guilty of telling a few untruths to others or even to yourself. This is because in society today, it’s simply not politically correct to admit our human failings.
We’re not supposed to be unhappy with ourselves because we’re not beautiful or skinny. That’s giving in to our vain and shallow culture. We’re not supposed to be jealous. That’s not appreciating the blessings in our midst. We’re not supposed to feel angry that we can’t seem to achieve the recognition or wealth that we desire. That’s trying to find happiness in outer things when we should be seeking to find happiness within.
Ask yourself if you are guilty of any of these negative emotions.
Yep, guilty as charged for just about all of them. Okay, okay, every single one of them.
And by accepting the truth of that fact, I’m actually doing myself a favor. Because I can use these weaknesses to make my life better. And so can you.
By being honest with yourself. By not ignoring your negative feelings. By digging deeper to understand them. And by being smart enough to use them.
Tool number one: Anger and hurt
Someone hurt you. Told you you were unattractive. Told you your dreams would never come true. Told you you were a loser. Called you names or made fun of you.
Don’t wallow in self-loathing and sadness. Get up and make them eat their words. Use that hurt as fuel for self-improvement.
Case in point.
My eighteen-year-old son has lost over sixty pounds. What were the things that motivated him? Feelings of low self-esteem. Feeling unconfident. Feeling the wounding words of past bullies as sharply as if they had just been uttered.
But the real motivator? His last two girlfriends.
He found out each of them cheated on him when they were together. And then he found out something worse. That they actually got together and laughed at him for his extra weight.
Enter anger. Enter hurt. Enter the decision to make them sorry for their words and actions.
This one moment of pain led him to drink water instead of Coke. To eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates. To get out in the hot summer sun and work out daily.
And you know what? He’s happier than he's ever been. All because of them. But the most beautiful part is now he truly doesn’t care about their opinions. He now feels good enough about himself to move past the pain they inflicted.
So if someone has hurt you, ask yourself these questions. Was part of the pain due to the fact that in some small way you believed the nasty things they said? It probably was.
Then channel that pain.
Imagine their face when you’re running on the treadmill, writing that novel, or starting your own business. Visualize their open-mouthed reaction when they see you sport that bikini or six-pack on the beach. Imagine their response when your first novel is published or they see you driving around in your new convertible sports car because your business is booming.
Again, I know my advice is probably not the politically correct thing to say. After all, it sounds so much more dignified for me to advise you to make these changes to improve your health or to ensure you can retire comfortably.
But many times that’s not what really moves us to action, is it?
Nicky Verd, author of the book Disrupt Yourself or Be Disrupted said,
“If pain does not lead to growth and character, you have wasted your suffering.”
So don’t waste it. Use it and watch the positive changes it brings you.
Tool number two: Envy
Like anger and pain, envy has its own motivational power. Every day,we see people who seemingly have it all. They’re physically attractive, wealthy, confident, successful, and happy. We think to ourselves, “Wow. It must be nice to have great DNA or a high metabolism,” or “Why couldn’t I be born to rich parents,” or “I wish I had the courage to start my own business, leave my dead-end relationship, or work from home.”
And when we think these things, we often blame fate for our inferior position in life. This type of envy is both defeatist and non-productive because it assumes that we can do nothing to improve our own situations in life. So when then can envy be a positive force for growth?
When we become honest with ourselves.
Many times, it’s not fated these people we envy have the things in life we desire. More often than not, their success is due to their decision to do the things we won’t or to make the sacrifices that we don’t.
So, maybe the real truth is that we don’t really envy these people, we admire them.
So channel that admiration into positive change for yourself.
For example, look at these people who have the things you don’t as an inspirational tool for growth. Learn from them. Question them on how they achieved the things that you also want to achieve.
Then take steps to improve yourself.
Granted, what works for one person’s success will not always work for you, but more often than not, studying the people we envy is more about learning and internalizing their mindset than about using the exact same strategies they did to reach their goals.
As a matter of fact, my envy of one person literally changed my whole life for the better.
For example, I’m a teacher and a perfectionist, and this combination of traits is often toxic. As a matter of fact, until three years ago, it was my habit to work on schoolwork each day for at least two hours after the last bell rang. And even though I worked these hours and had twenty years of teaching to boot, I still took work home often on nights and weekends.
And each day at three when the students left school, I noticed with resentment and envy that a first-year teacher was out the door fifteen minutes later.
When I questioned her, her response was, “My work is my work. I give one-hundred percent all day when I am here, but my time is my time. I have a husband who I want to be with and a gym I want to go to. I have goals for myself, and I’ll never accomplish them if I give all my free time to my job.”
That day, I decided that just for a week I would embrace her philosophy. I went home and decided that I would spend my new free time writing and publishing.
Three years later with thousands of dollars in my pocket due to writing, I credit this one teacher with all my success. Instead of being jealous of her, I gained a new perspective that changed my life in ways for which I will be forever grateful.
If we keep our focus on bettering ourselves by learning from the people we envy instead of badmouthing or maligning them, we can improve our lives and accomplish more of what we dream of.
So don’t be jealous of your friend who has taken up running and lost thirty pounds, get up at six-thirty before work and pound the pavement. Don’t envy the person who was promoted at work, find out what they did to move up the corporate ladder. Then do it.
Bestselling author and success coach Jen Sincero says it best when she states,
“Maybe, if you put your disbelief aside, roll up your sleeves, take some risks, and totally go for it, you’ll wake up one day and realise you’re living the kind of life you used to be jealous of. “
The bottom line:
No human leaves this world without shedding tears of hurt or feeling anger and resentment. It’s a part of life, and we have three choices on how to deal with these things when they arise. We can pretend these feelings don’t exist, we can wallow in our pity, or we can use those emotions to make our lives more of what we want them to be.
Lord Robin says, “Pain is the fuel, the more pain you get, the more combustion you create. It propels you for moving forward to reach at your goal.”
So use that fuel. Let it fill your emotional gas tank. All you have to do is wipe away your tears, start your engine and head towards your dreams.