5 Emotions You Can Either Let Consume You Or Motivate You

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Everything in this world is a choice. From what you do, to whom you do it with, to how you deal with the aftermath, everything is a decision, whether made consciously or unconsciously. And you have options in your choices, because nothing is ever presented as the ONLY way. At the risk of sounding too idealistic, it really does come down to trying to find the silver lining in every bad thing (because nine out of ten times, I promise you it will be there) and being proactive rather than simply reactive.


1. Jealousy

Jealousy seems like the most counterproductive feeling, and in a lot of cases, it is. How could you possibly spin this into a flipside, right? Green with envy, stewing in your jealousy — whatever the case, it’s the easiest recipe for becoming very bitter toward the rest of the world very quickly. What someone else has going on in their life has little to no bearing on what goes on in yours, so focusing and dwelling on the little have-nots in your life is a wasted endeavor.

How to let it motivate you: In the words of Mindy Kaling, “‘Why the fuck not me?’ should be your motto.” The trick here is to cut your jealousy off before it even attaches itself to someone or something else. You have every right to earn the same nice things, corner office, and dream life as anyone else — but the thing is, you have to earn it. If you really want something, go after it. Maybe you don’t want to because you’re afraid you’ll fail and you have no one but yourself to blame, but really, is that so bad? At least you’ll be able to say you tried.

2. Sadness

As someone who has dealt with depression for more than half of her entire life, I get it. It’s very, very easy (and that much more tempting) to want to sink yourself away into sadness and its sister, depression. Either of these things can stilt anyone, and suck you further into yourself — you’re sad about being sad, so you stay sad, so you don’t do anything. If you need professional (and sometimes medical) help to shake you out of your depression, that’s one thing, but it’s normal to let the run-of-the-mill sads get to you, too. (And there’s no shame in that, either.)

How to let it motivate you: You can be sad about the loss of anything (a lost opportunity, a lost lover, a lost family member, whatever), but you can also turn that grief into a way to honor the legacy of that thing. It sounds cheesy, but that’s because often, the things we perceive to be cheesy are just more innocent than we’re used to, and in our cynicism we’re conditioned to lash out. Sadness at its core is nothing more than a feeling, and when we don’t allow ourselves to feel it, we give it the opportunity to fester. So, be sad. But then do something about it. By acknowledging your sadness, you know exactly how far you need to go in order to reach happy.

3. Betrayal

So, somebody in your life did something that you feel is particularly unforgivable. Whether it’s a significant other who cheated on you, a coworker who stole your idea, a friend who flaked one too many times — whatever it is just went against your moral code and you’re left pretty pissed. You can either lash out, and stab them in the front where they stabbed you in the back or…

How to let it motivate you: If you want to wait for someone to do everything you want them to do when you want them to do it, you’ll be waiting forever. (Seriously, you don’t even have this kind of control over yourself all of the time.) Instead, you can reflect back on the warning signs of what went wrong and where, and use this as a way to gauge what your deal breakers are and what you will and won’t tolerate. You don’t have to put up with the same behavior from other people in your future, but in order to get to that point, you do have to learn about what to avoid before it seems like you’re just walking yourself in circles.

4. Shame

Look, the fact of the matter is, we all do embarrassing shit. All of us. There’s always something that we’re going to feel pretty awful about. A typo in the email asking for your dream job is your friend being self-conscious about her acne is the night that dude threw up in the middle of the bar. The easy way out, of course, is to simply never show your face in public again, but embarrass yourself enough times and that kind of whittles down your list of places you feel comfortable going.

How to let it motivate you: If there’s something about yourself that makes you feel particularly sensitive, that means it’s an opportunity to do something about it. (I know this is starting to sound repetitive, but bear with me here.) Sometimes the things that we feel most ashamed of aren’t easy fixes, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy of putting in the effort and trying to better yourself. If you’re an awful dancer, go to a few classes; at the very least, you might learn how to laugh at yourself, if you’re entirely hopeless dancing-wise. (There’s a good chance you’re not, though.) The only thing to really be ashamed of is the fact that you never tried – and even then, that can be remedied, too.

5. Infatuation

A crush. Lust. Smitten. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a very real feeling, and often, it paralyzes us. What if they don’t like you back? What if they don’t even know who you are?! What if they’re already taken, or if they reject you or if you actually do start dating and then you realize they weren’t who you thought they were and you break up and you’re heartbroken for the rest of forever and… Let yourself analyze it enough and you can talk yourself out of anything, no matter how much you actually do like them. It’s safer, after all, to be on the sidelines. (It’s not really living, but it’s safer.)

How to let it motivate you: If you genuinely like the person, let them know. Take that risk. You can’t put the onus on them to interpret every weird mating call we humans call “flirting” and “dating” and “hoping to god they get the hint so they ask us out first and we feel desired.” If you like someone and can see yourself happy with them (if not growing old with kids and a porch and the whole nine) take the initiative. The worst they can say is no, and that frees you up to find someone else who will say yes. And if the best they can say is yes, well… that’s just the best of every scenario. TC mark

image – James Nord

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