A more empowering take on negative emotions.
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“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why.” — Mark Twain
I’ve spent the majority of my adult life searching for ways to rid myself of any and all conflict. With ruthless quips peppered throughout my internal dialogue, I knew I didn’t have it in me to withstand much confrontation in life. Moreover, my values were so blurred that I knew I wouldn’t have a laurel to rest on if I engaged in anything remotely resembling a verbal tussle.
Perhaps most notably, my baseline mood was always one tug at the thread away from unraveling.
I felt relentless pressure from life’s circumstances and knew I needed to corral them. A high-stakes race against my eventual demise, I set out with an over-falsity of courage to tackle what everyone else appeared to have already achieved: to understand how to deal with myself.
I self-educated like a bat out of hell. I studied business, leadership, body language, non-verbal communication, practical psychology, emotional intelligence, linguistics — anything to keep the flames from spreading like wildfire. Unfortunately for me, I didn't realize I was trying to put the car before the horse.
I yearned for something I hadn’t earned. Trying to win games without practicing. Ace the test without the studying. A wizard without Dementors.
Trying to be happy without ever fully appreciating what sadness felt like.
It goes without saying, it was a fool’s errand to attempt to address outside circumstances whenever my inner waves were most volatile. What I needed to address was how I dealt with them — the discussion inside my head.
Here's a little of what I gathered.
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Everyone wants the public stage but nobody wants the private fights
The dynamic of communication isn't all that complicated. How we relate to others is to either connect or defend — one from a place of openness and curiosity, the other from a place of insecurity and threat.
When we engage in conversation, we’re either looking to understand the other person and provide subsequent value or we’re looking to get through the encounter with them thinking the best of us — love versus fear.
Ultimately, the value in which we can offer in public is contingent upon the strain we’ve experienced in private. No one’s going to like you if you can’t (or won’t) relate.
It’s not about looking good, masking inadequacies, or projecting what you cannot contain inside. Go to work on what you need to inside of yourself and when you're given a platform to express yourself outwardly, the flow will be natural.
Appreciate the opportunity to write your story in private with the help of a harsh editor. All stories can have holes poked in them, but the less you’re let off the hook, the more appealing it will be to the public and ultimately, the more value you can bring to the world.
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If your abilities always match your assignments, you’re not dreaming big enough
Burnout happens for two reasons: when our minds are full and when we lack variety.
The first type of burnout is growth, which is critical to a fulfilling life. You’ve simply expended all the mental energy you can in one stretch sans taking a clarity break. This can be remedied with writing, sharing, new perspectives or simply scheduling a few things to look forward to during your week to keep your mind agile.
The second type of burnout however, is the most costly. It’s when we aren’t aiming high enough. Monotony has supplanted itself firmly in the seat next to us and until we set our sights higher, it’s not going away. As Mark Twain said, “Boredom is the enemy of joy”.
Negative emotions are messages. They’re communicating to you to either shift your view on the situation or shift your actions (usually a little bit of both). If your territory doesn’t match your map, change what you’re doing in said territory or change your map — after all, you’re the one that constructed it in the first place.
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There is always a space between who you are and who you’re meant to be. Grace fills that gap.
At the end of the day, if everything was certain, faith and hope wouldn’t exist. Clear directions suppress our creativity. Our ability to roam, explore, discover. There’s freedom in this space, and yet we view it as ignorance that must be surmounted.
Life is a peak never reached. If perfection existed, we wouldn’t have happy or sad, joy or pain, excitement or worry.
We would simply be there. Arrived. Purposeless.
Because we’ll never be perfect, we can always be better — which can be viewed as either an issue or a gift. Growth feeds the soul. When there’s nothing left to eat, we can always go out and hunt — even if we don’t tactfully know how.
This gap was put in place by our creator — whether you call that God, the universe, a higher power, or something different. We aren’t supposed to have full control over our lives. We cannot be trusted with that responsibility. We’re far too primitive in the depths of our nature.
Instead of wrestling with an illusion, let go of what you never should’ve been trying to grasp onto in the first place. Grace, hope, and faith have naturally uplifting undertones for a reason.
Allow them to do their jobs.
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