Why Envy, Dislike, Anger, and Procrastination are Awesome
Know Yourself Through Natural Reactions
You should not entirely suppress or avoid these natural reactions. Rather, you should make personal note whenever you experience these much-frowned upon, yet natural, qualities. Why?
I like when I get mad at music cause it’s so good. I’m like, “Oh shit, why didn’t we think of that? Why didn’t we do that?”
— Kanye West, Cruel Summer
Take Notes on Envious Moments
We should keep a careful diary of our moments of envy: they are our covert guides to what we should try to do next.
— Alain de Botton, Twitter
Essentially: when we envy someone, we should make a note on why this feeling happened, so we can explore that sometime.
For example, if you’re envious a friend got a new job that’s making more money or with more prestige, perhaps it’s time to dedicate some of your resources (e.g., time and energy) to figure out how to generate some more income or revisit your occupation. If you’re envying how they’ve found a new partner, maybe it’s time to take dating more seriously.
[Sidebar: YES, I am conscious that writing a post about projections means readers will be much more aware of what I’m projecting as a writer. I tried to use hypotheticals as much as possible, hah.]
Why are you Really Angry?
Whenever someone talks about something that has nothing to do with them (like offering an opinion on a book), they are talking about themselves not that thing.
— Tucker Max, Blog
If you want to get to know yourself better, have a look at the things you dislike or hate — despite the fact that they have never done anything to harm you (e.g., a book).
You will be able to dig deeper into why you’re feeling emotionally threatened, or envious, about this thing. This is a technique that can help you understand yourself, and perhaps what else you want to explore or improve at, better.
Who do you Dislike?
Whenever you meet somebody, and you have an instant dislike to them — you just meet someone and for no reason you just instantly dislike them — the reason you have that emotion is either envy or you’re seeing your shadow. You’re seeing the side of yourself that you don’t like — that you don’t want to have, that you want to cut out. Why else would you have such an extreme reaction to them?
— Neil Strauss, Authors @ Google
If it’s envy, that’s great. Make a note to, as mentioned earlier, perhaps explore it sometime in the future.
If it’s your shadow, ask yourself: Why do you want to hide this side? What are you really threatened by, or afraid of? What are you feeling insecure about, and what is the reason behind it? It’s hard to stay upset after digging deep enough.
Notice When You’re Procrastinating
Usually, I am an advocate of action and defeating procrastination. (I’m a regular contributor at 99U because it forces me to continue looking for new methods of effectiveness.) However, procrastination has its uses:
Actually I select the writing of the passages of this book by means of procrastination. If I defer writing a section, it must be eliminated. This is simple ethics: Why should I try to fool people by writing about a subject for which I feel no natural drive?
— Nicholas Nassim Taleb, Antifragile (p. 123)
The gist of this: procrastination kicks in when you have less of a drive to do something. That means it’s an indication of whether or not you truly feel passionate about that activity.
As humans, we have many passions. We can love art, science, people, animals, nature, technology, and many other big picture things simultaneously. Which ones do we love the most?
Similarly, in an age where passion almost seems to be a prerequisite for employment, it’s easy to delude yourself into thinking you love your work as you cast the illusion to the world and your colleagues that you do. Procrastination can be a means of retaining a true connection to yourself.
Of course, at its extreme, procrastination can be a debilitating method of paralysis, and should be overcome. But its mere existence could be suggesting something — either that you’re more prone to immediate gratification (as opposed to delayed gratification), or that you just really don’t like what you’re doing. In the persisting case of the latter, where you’re finding you put everything off, I suggest finding a fix. In the case of the former, move on and try something new for a while.
At the end of the day, these four reactions are awesome because they are the key to us learning more about ourselves and understanding ourselves on deeper levels.
This, then, also gives us a better idea of where we need to go in the future, what we need to become our best selves, what we are truly passionate about, what our greatest fears are, and how to channel these emotions and create great art.