How to Turn Negative Emotions Into Inspiration for Action
A Personal Perspective: You disgust me! Too harsh?
Posted December 31, 2022 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster
Last Friday at 1:35 in the morning, I was putting away my dishes.
No, I'm not a Night Owl, and I had stayed up that late and was just getting around to the task before I turned in for the night.
No, I'm not a party animal just arriving home from a night on the town.
And no, I wasn’t tending a baby or a whiny dog.
It was a simple matter of resolve.
Here’s the backstory.
Earlier in the day, I was listening to a podcast with Eddie Pinero. In his motivational podcast called Your World Within Daily, he referenced Jim Rohn, another motivational speaker with a long history of publications, public speaking, and articles about productivity.
Jim tells a story about a life-changing moment that occurred when he was just 25 years old. A little Girl Scout knocked on his door selling cookies. He was embarrassed to tell her that he didn't have the money, so he lied and said he had already bought cookies from another scout.
When he closed the door, he felt disgusted with himself.
At that moment, he realized that positive action could result from disgust if that negative emotion is followed by a decision, desire, and resolve.
I had heard this same podcast probably two weeks earlier.
My reaction at that time was, "Poor Jim being in that situation, disgusted in himself." And that was that.
On this listening, I turned the disgust lens onto my own life.
Begin by knowing the negative emotion of disgust can motivate positive actions.
I'm a pretty positive person.
The last thing I feel about my life is disgust. I'm very happy with my life.
When I heard Eddie's podcast this second time, I thought, "Is there anything in my life that I am disgusted with? Is there anything I have control of and am not taking action on?"
I'm a rotten housekeeper. I fully, freely admit that.
I envy people whose homes are always visitor ready. They don't spend half a day getting ready for company coming over for dinner. Their house is already ready.
My house has never been like that.
If disgust is the pivotal emotion, the next action is a decision.
Next, decide to change the disgusting situation.
There is nothing magical about doing the dishes. There's nothing that is going to involve a huge monetary investment. Nothing is standing in my way of washing the dishes every night and putting them away before I go to sleep. This is in my control.
Step three, what do you desire to replace the negative element?
I desire to have a cleaner house, a house that I'm not embarrassed about.
I have this strong desire to be a white-glove housekeeper, but I'm not going to change everything all at once.
Finally, resolve to take action. Any action.
Disgust prompted me to resolve to put away the dishes every night before I went to sleep.
Last Thursday night (early Friday morning), I washed the dinner dishes and left them in the strainer. Then I went upstairs to sit with my 95-year-old mother while she watched cowboy shows. At the end of the night, I went back downstairs and crawled into bed.
In less than twelve hours, I had forgotten my resolve to "do the dishes." Which included putting away the dishes in the drying rack.
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Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Change doesn’t happen overnight.
Habits take a while to develop.
A few hours after retiring to my bed, I woke up with an intense desire to follow through on this brand-new resolve.
I climbed out from under my warm blankets, pulled on my slippers, went into the kitchen, and put away those few dishes.
My resolve has now lasted over a week.
This weekend is the new year. A day when so many people make New Year's resolutions. Typically, these resolutions are broken within a day or a week.
I would guess a majority are completely forgotten by the end of January.
But I'm not making a resolution, although the root word probably is shared.
Rather, I resolve to make one tiny change in my daily routine in order to have a more company-ready home.
Once I get the ‘doing the dishes’ routine down pat, I resolve to add another and another and another so that I, too, will have one of those houses that's always company-ready.
I believe this resolve will also translate into a resolve that will help my creative activities.
If you have dirty dishes in the sink, a part of you is always going to fixate on that negative, disgusting feeling. And that negative feeling impacts all of our emotions, including anxiety, sadness, irritation, and anger.
By eliminating those negative emotions, we free up our creative energy.
When we resolve to do one positive action, we open up space to do more:
To do your art
Think about one small area of your life that you're a bit disgusted with.
Is it keeping a clean car? Is it finishing tasks? Is it not scrolling the internet mindlessly?
Decide to eliminate that disgusting area of your life. Desire to do better and resolve to keep at this new initiative until it’s ingrained in your daily life.
Resolve to spend more time on what matters and less time on what doesn't matter.