26 Jun The Dark Side – Why Pain and Fear Should Be Embraced
Every now and then we find motivation from unexpected places. It can be a random event that happened, a friend’s success, or maybe a random post on social media that stood out to you. This happens because the motivating factor regardless of the source caused some sort of mental arousal and emotional response. Several self-help books have been written to describe this concept in one way or another. Many of them try to tap into purely positive emotions and deep emotional reasons why you want to do something. While these are powerful, many people miss out on an even more powerful perspective. The reason many miss out this perspective is it causes us to reflect on our fears and failures. It’s rather painful. What many don’t realize (at least consciously) is that negative emotions and pain are stronger motivating factors than positive ones. The brain is wired to avoid pain more so than it is to seek pleasure. Now you may be wondering, “how can I use a negative experience to motivate me when the goal is to think positively?” Let me explain further.
Many people have positive thinking wrong. Many believe that positive thinking is being delusional about negative events that happen, saying something is positive even though it’s clearly a negative event in your life. This will set you up for failure. One of my favorite books about this is The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F— by Mark Manson. Positive thinking is when a person can take a situation good or bad, react with normal human emotion, then make the most of it. They’re able to respond to life and not simply react to it. Let’s rewind for a second and go back to where I said motivation comes from unexpected sources.
Last night I was browsing YouTube and I came across a video titled The Most Motivational Video Ever. Now there are several motivational videos with this title which I rarely click on. I clicked on this one in particular because I normally watch the creator of this video youtube channel. It was an interview with ex-Navy Seal David Goggins. This guy had a rough upbringing, being black in a very racist neighborhood. He shared a story about when he was in high school and some kids wrote the “N” word across his books and he showed the principal and the only help the principal gave was trying to justify their actions by pointing out they spelled the “N” word wrong! He said he realized that nobody was going to help him and it was all on him to help himself. He goes on to share other stories about his Navy Seals training and the pain he suffered over the years. The part that really inspired me was when he told the story about when he ran 100 miles in 24 hours. At mile 70 he said both his feet were broken and he had several stress fractures in both legs. He was so exhausted he couldn’t even make it to the bathroom and wound up going on himself, urinating blood in the process. Despite all of this, he finished the final 30 miles even though on the surface he looked like he was about to die. He credits his ability to finish the race by thinking about all the hell he went through over the years and survived. He embraced how no matter what happened to him, nothing could break him. Ever since he learned to embrace his failures and hardships to fuel him to attack his goals. He calls those memories his cookie jar, he said whenever he needs to accomplish something tough he reverts to his cookie jar.
Ok so you’re probably not going to run 100 miles in 24 hours (I know I’m definitely not) but that’s not the point. Take a second to think about some really challenging times you faced. What did you learn from those experiences? Did it make you better? Stronger? You’re still here right? Exactly! Sometimes we hide painful memories because of the pain when in actuality some of our biggest moments of pain created our biggest moments of triumph. I2T exists today because I was bullied as a kid, lacked confidence, and had several insecurities. This started a workout discipline in me that lasted over 16 years. I wouldn’t be typing this today if it weren’t for the struggle I went through. Many people don’t get what they want because of the fear of the unknown and let the chance of failure scare them trying (or at least sticking with it). Knowing that struggle has greatness on the other side we need to embrace our fears and attack them head on. If you’re overweight and afraid of giving up your favorite foods, you should embrace that, dig deep and know on the other side of that fear will be the weight loss goal you want to achieve. If you’re nervous about going to the gym for the first time, just go, that fear means you’re doing something different and you’re taking the first step towards a new you!
I just want to finish by saying, stay positive and optimistic, but don’t be afraid of embracing the dark side either. Use both to fuel your fire to help you reach your goals! If you dwell too much on one side and not the other, in both cases, positive or negative, you’re going to set yourself up for frustration.
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