I’m going to start this off in an unusual way.
I’m going to talk about what I hate.
One of the things I hate most about the self-improvement industry is this idea that you have to be positive, happy, and content all the time.
That’s not how life works at all.
Life throws a lot of negativity at you. If you try to pretend it doesn’t exist and force yourself to “think positive” you’re never going to address the root cause of your discontent in a useful way.
Negative emotions are signals that something is wrong. Often, negative emotions are signaling you to act. To be better. To find a different path.
Instead of ignoring negative emotions — they’re not going away anytime soon — why not use them to your advantage?
How to Become an Emotional Judo Master
Judo is a unique martial art. In judo, you often use your opponent’s aggression against them. Judo practitioners learn how the momentum of the body works. If you attack a Judo expert the wrong way, they’ll simply counter your move by taking your momentum and using it to throw you. A well-trained Judo practitioner who weighs 140 pounds can find a way to defeat an untrained 250-pound person. Being an expert at this martial art means you can handle heavy amounts of weight…with ease.
We can use this analogy with our own emotions.
What do you usually do with negativity? I bet you wallow in it, wish it didn’t come your way, and ultimately end up spinning your wheels in a negative cycle.
There’s a better way.
Be an emotional Judo master. Take that negative energy and direct it somewhere useful. A lot of my biggest inspiration comes from negative emotions used the right way.
Let’s look at some examples of ways you can convert negative energy into useful energy.
Humans are comparison machines. And “comparison is the thief of joy.” The more you compare yourselves to others the worse you (usually) feel. But what can be done? It’s pretty hard to just turn off your envy.
I don’t even try. Instead, I channel my envious energy to improving my own circumstances.
Now, if someone is doing something cool or innovative that makes me jealous, I internalize that energy and convert it to usefulness by examining how they did what they did and reverse engineering it for myself. If someone writes for a website I want to write for, I investigate how to get on that platform. If someone has more views then me, I study their headlines, sentence structure, and promotion techniques to see what I can take and remix.
If someone is more successful than you, find out why and how, then use those insights to become more successful yourself.
I watched a video by marketing guru Grant Cardone where he used a sentence to describe something I’d been doing for a long time:
Fall in love with frustration.
I often try to make myself frustrated on purpose because it motivates me to alleviate that frustration — not by complaining — with action.
I was frustrated with my bank account, so I learned how to make money online.
I was frustrated with my body and health, so I started working out like a mad man and got healthy again.
I was frustrated with my wife nagging about my lack of help around the house, so I made sure I was an equal contributor.
Some people say satisfaction is the goal. I disagree.
How many of us deserved to be satisfied? Have we done even close to the amount of work we’re capable of? No. Have we lived life to the fullest and fulfilled the experiences, goals, and desires we all have deep down? Depends on who you ask.
If you’re frustrated with your life, there’s probably a good reason.
Sure, you can blame advertisers and society for making you have a poor self-image, but that’s a cop-out, and it’s not going to help make your situation any better.
But you already know that.
If you’re frustrated with your life, good. Use that energy to push yourself past your normal levels of activity. Then, set new goals that make you frustrated with your current life :)
This isn’t about chasing materials or status. It’s about feeding the goal-seeking mechanism that comes built into every human being.
You’ll probably never be fully satisfied, but is that the goal you should have for your short life? Being satisfied?
Not me. I want to see what I can get done.
I’ve told the story a zillion times but here are the spark notes:
- I was dead broke
- I was $70,000 in debt for college but didn’t graduate
- I had a shit job
There came about where I was sitting in my room and I screamed out loud, “I’m not going to live this way anymore!”
I was fed up. Desperate.
I looked far into the future and didn’t like what I saw.
When you’re desperate and have nothing to lose, one of two choices present themselves:
A) You can give up on life and swan dive into nihilism
B) You can use desperation as fuel to bounce back from rock bottom.
I chose option B. I thought to myself, “Hell, I’m already broke and a loser. Things can’t really get worse. I might as well give this self-improvement thing a shot.
Half a decade later, and I’ve pretty much reached all of my major goals in life.
Sometimes you can feel a level of pain that’s insufficient.
What do I mean?
The dull and monotonous pain of a day to day existence where you live below your potential hurts, but it doesn’t hurt bad enough to make you seriously question your life. You just plod along and use the social painkillers of our time — T.V., drugs/alcohol, the weekend, vacations, etc.
Sometimes you have to dig that knife a little further. Make the pain of staying the same worse than the pain of changing (this is someone else’s quote, I’m not sure who.)
Harness the Power of Negativity Today
I choose to write my weekly newsletter on Mondays for a reason.
Monday is often the most dreaded day of the week. Usually, I like to inspire people on Mondays to make them feel better.
Today, I’m doing the opposite.
Having trouble starting your side business? Think about how much your job sucks right now. Swallow that frustration and convert it to energy you can use to work on your business outside of work.
Already ditched your New Years Resolution to work out? Stand in front of the mirror today, completely naked, and stare at yourself until you’re motivated to go back to the gym.
Falling short on your goals in general? Extrapolate your life into the far future. If you keep living the same way, what will your life look like 5,10, 20 years down the road? Does what you see scare you? Good, get to work.
Ayodeji is the author of You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You. Want a free copy of my first book? Get it here.