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The Power of the Dark Side

Did I use a Star Wars reference? Yes… Yes I did… But that isn’t the point of this article. (But I am a dork, so let’s just acknowledge that fact right now)

On a daily basis, we all go through a wide range of emotions. We have things that brighten our day, such as happiness, glee and excitement. On the other hand we have anger, sadness or frustration that can set a negative tone. Emotions are powerful tools in our lives that give us the chance to experience the highs and the unfortunate lows of life. However, these experiences give us a chance to learn and grow into who we are capable of becoming (much like a Star Wars character, again, dork here).

In an ideal world, I’m sure that most people would like to experience positivity (happiness, peace, love) more often than negativity (sadness, frustration, anger). However, we are human and this journey that we call life is like that of a roller coaster. You go through a number of different emotions. As much as we want to experience all the positivity, negative feelings are inevitable. You can be the most positive person in the world and never show signs of negativity, but deep down, you have experienced those negative feelings. You’ve just decided to not show them to others.

With negativity comes a sense of unbalance. We often feel like we are thrown off track or even feel lost. The awesome thing about being human is that we have the choice of how we interpret our feelings and emotions. For each of us, it is different. Sure, it’s easy to go out and say something like that your day sucks when something doesn’t go your way (or multiple things don’t go your way), but this will inevitably start a domino effect. By saying and thinking this, you start to see all the little flaws in your life and the major flaws in the world. Yes, this happens often and it is perfectly okay to say to yourself that things may never change and it sucks, but don’t let that control your thoughts. There are other ways that you can take on a day without being super negative about it. Think about the positives and what you can learn from the situation. All of this plays a role in keeping your life balanced.

Let’s take a look at some emotions here:

Joy can lead to happiness, excitement and positivity.

Anger can lead to frustration and a sense of not wanting to do anything you have to do.

Fear can protect you from getting hurt and taking risks.

Sadness is there to remind us that there are negative emotions, but can also teach us that it is needed to keep a balanced perspective on your life.

All of these play a huge role in your day to day interactions with others and how you go about life. It’s also a little reminder that having negative experiences can actually lead to positive experiences. Although we tend to only focus on either the positive or the negative, you cannot live without either. Without sadness, there is no joy. With any negative experience, once we learn and move past it, you’ll realize that there is a positive experience waiting for you right around the corner. It all comes down to how you react to these experiences. You can either let them conquer your life, or you can learn from them and use them to your advantage.

To give you a real life experience, I’ll share a little experience that I had a few months ago. I’ve been trucking along in life lately, grinding to make a better future for myself. This comes at the expense of my mental health (this will be explained as you read on). It is great to grind away and make sure that you are set, but you also have to remember to give yourself some personal time. I got to a point where I was burned out. Work had been rough the past few months with nonstop things coming up. Outside of work I was trying to do my side grind, but was also dealing with a lot of family health issues. It was also that time of the year where I break from sports and don’t get to see my sports family that much, nor workout as much. It was a rough time. I was so busy with work and family issues, that I had gone full introvert and isolated myself from folks. Even my close friends and business partners. This is mentally taxing because as much as you want to think you aren’t flying solo, you really are. All of this came to realization after months of stress at a wedding. What better place to get in touch with your feelings than at a wedding. Weddings are meant to bring together two people, their families and their closest friends to celebrate a deep love for one another. You feel so full of love at these events, but if you’re like me, there was that feeling that no one likes to feel; a sense of being lonely. I was one of the people at the wedding (and there were others) that who was without a date. I was surrounded by some of my closest friends, yet, there was still that feeling of emptiness. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time at this wedding, but these are the thoughts that you have once things are said and done. I reflected on this feeling; acknowledging why I feel like this. I was getting in my own way of being happy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually a pretty upbeat and positive guy (my eyebrows might say otherwise, as they are the bushy kind that makes me look upset all the time). As I reflected, I saw that I was holding myself back from relationships, both with my friends and possible interests, because I had let the other things consume me. The negative things that had been happening in my life had been weighing me down. It was at that point that I decided that I needed to make a change. I opened back up to those that are close to me, made plans, shared my struggles and to let them know that was how I had coped with them. I wasn’t trying to build a wall around myself, it just happened. I wanted that happiness back in my life sharing my love with others. I thrive when I’m with people that I care about and that’s what I was missing. Being able to process this and making the changes is the hardest step to take. When you’re buried, you feel like there is no escape, but if you take a second to reflect on where you are (even if it is rock bottom), you will see that there are still opportunities to get to where you want to be.

Now, you know a little about me (or at least that was a thought that happened and that I’m a dork that uses references, like that of Star Wars).

With that said, if you’re feeling like you’ve lost your way or are just feeling unbalanced, here are some things to consider.

Embrace your emotions. Both positive AND negative. Although it is not the easiest to do, it is important. It is easy to embrace the positive as you’re happy and you don’t want to lose that feeling. The harder step is embracing the negative. If you avoid this and push it off to the side or bottle it up inside, you’re actually making it harder to face later. Those emotions can loom over us and constrict us like a giant boa constrictor (yes, snake reference) and squeeze all the life out of us until we don’t have a choice but to face it. If you take time to embrace that negative emotion, you will actually learn a lot from it and use it to propel yourself back to positivity. Remember, without sadness, there is no joy.

Take time to yourself. The power of a negative emotion can leave you quite vulnerable. And who is the biggest critic of you (besides your parents)? You are. If you beat yourself up, it’s not going to help with you coming out of the rut. Take some time to reflect. Breathe. Think. Embrace the feelings and act on them in a positive way. Find your happy place.

Have a conversation. I know that it can be painstakingly hard to share feelings. It takes real courage to talk to others when you’re vulnerable, but it is also the best time to see those that truly care for you. Reach out to your family and friends in tough times. Everyone has had their own experiences. If you feel comfortable with them, let them know what you’re going through and talk it out. They might be able to give you some pointers on how they got over the same situation. Getting it out and sharing that burden takes some weight off your shoulders and helps others understand what you’re going through. Don’t use them as a complete crutch, but lean on them a little for help. It is better that they know and can show you support, rather than thinking you are all alone. (Trust me, it’s not easy, but you can do it. If they really care about you, they’re going to be there for you).

Have strength and trust yourself. In any situation it is always hard to see the outcome, but you have to trust that you will get to it. When you get there, turn the page to the next chapter. It is easy to stop trying because it’s hard, but it only makes it tougher for you. Keep moving forward. You’ll get there and you have to believe that.

Life is full of unexpected bumps and turns. I’ve always said it is how you react to situations that will propel you. That goes both ways. At the end of the day, you are going to do what you think is best for you, but just remember this. You are never alone. There are people out there that can help you. Whether it is a doctor, your family, or your friends, there is someone there. If you’re not ready to reach out for help, remember to reflect on the bigger picture. You are always worth it and can make a huge impact on the world. Don’t believe me? Try it. Positivity will prevail, even in the darkest of times.

Oh, and remember to smile :)

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