How To Turn Any Negative Into A Positive

Use challenges as fuel and focus on growth

Brian Pennie
Dec 29, 2020 · 3 min read

I’m not rich. I didn’t win the genetic lottery. And I lost most of my life to addiction. So why the hell am I so happy? Simple. Because I use challenges as fuel and I focus on growth.

Every situation is an opportunity to grow, especially difficult ones. Here are several examples from my own journey:

I lost 15 years of my life to heroin addiction, but today it is my greatest ally. The lessons I’ve learned have helped me to write my memoir, secure a PhD scholarship, and become a neuroscience lecturer. More importantly, by telling my story about how change is possible, I’m hoping it will inspire others who need to change theirs.

The most painful night of my life was also the most important night of my life. It forced me to let go of my story, my ego, the one that protected my addiction. By giving up the fight, I stopped resisting reality, and I was able to see the world from a completely new perspective.

My greatest fear when I went back to University was writing. I was terrible at English. I even struggled with emails. But it was a blessing in disguise. With a clean slate and no bad habits, I learned from the bottom up, and writing is now my greatest passion.

To finance myself through University, I delivered takeaway food every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night for three years. At 35 years of age, it was a humbling experience, but it turned into over 4000 hours of audio learning. I devoured every audiobook and podcast I could find, and the insights learned have opened up doors beyond my wildest dreams.

I’ve learned many lessons throughout my life, but the biggest one was this:

Life is full of challenges, but if you look hard enough, you can use them as fuel for growth.

I now use this method to turn any negative into a positive. When a negative thought pops into my head, I use it as a cue to replace it with a positive one. When I fail at something I care about, I use a chance to learn a valuable lesson. When I receive negative feedback, I use it as an opportunity to learn. When I get stuck on a project, I use it as a chance to think creatively.

You really can do this with anything. I used to hate waiting in queue’s. I arrogantly believed it was a waste of my valuable time. But I don’t wait anymore. I meditate while standing in line, and often look forward to it. I also use this technique for washing and ironing my clothes.

Turning negatives into positives doesn’t just work for individual challenges. It works great in our relationships with others, particularly when dealing with difficult people — those who like to blame, complain, and criticize.

Here are some of my favourite examples. If someone is being argumentative, you can use it as a chance to practice non-reactivity. If someone is acting unpleasantly towards you, you can use it as an opportunity to practice your perspective-taking skills. It’s hard not to be empathetic when you’re standing in someone else’s shoes.

You might need to get creative at times, but if look hard enough, you really can do this with anything life throws your way. If someone lets you down, it’s an opportunity to practice forgiveness. If you find yourself around negative-minded people, and you cannot remove yourself from the situation, you can use it as a chance to practice tolerance, compassion, or acceptance.

Life is full of challenges, but by using them as fuel for growth, you can turn them into lessons for life. Opportunities are all around us, and if you look hard enough, you can apply it with anything, even your greatest struggles.

If you’re like most people, your current life situation will provide you with these challenges. I’m not saying that bad things become good, but by focusing on what you can do, you can find a positive in every negative.

What would you do if you had a second chance at life?

Having escaped from the depths of heroin addiction (check out my before-after addiction pictures here), I decided to design a program to show people how I did it. Get the FREE program here.

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

Brian Pennie

Written by

Change is possible. I write to show that. Author | Recovered addict | Speaker | PhD candidate. www.brianpennie.com

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

Brian Pennie

Written by

Change is possible. I write to show that. Author | Recovered addict | Speaker | PhD candidate. www.brianpennie.com

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

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