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I was feeling anxious the other day. There were a lot of things on my mind. I had several writing projects with due dates approaching. The lease for my apartment was up, and I had to figure out if I wanted to sign a new lease or move out. I was dealing with a couple of nagging injuries, and I was concerned because I didn’t feel like I was getting better. All the things I was nervous about were swirling around in my head, and I was feeling stressed out and unhappy.

My first tendency was to try to escape the negative feelings. I wanted to do something to get rid of them. I figured if I could make the negative emotions go away, I would be happier.

I was eating Chinese food the other day for dinner. As I finished my meal, I cracked open my fortune cookie. The fortune said, ‘Your fear drives you toward success.’

The fortune cookie got me thinking about another way to look at negative emotions. Negative feelings can be the fuel that drives you toward a solution to your problem.

For example, maybe you feel anxious because you think you don’t have what it takes to tackle a project at work or school. The anxiety feels bad, but you could use the anxiety to seek the help or training you need to finish the project.

Perhaps you feel sad because you don’t have many friends and spend most of your time alone. The sadness feels bad, but you could use the sadness to motivate you to join a club or call a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile.

Maybe you feel angry because you volunteered to do something you didn’t really want to do. The anger feels bad, but you could use the anger to say no or set a boundary.

Action Step: Next time you feel a negative emotion, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, or anger, pause for a minute and consider whether you could use the negative feeling to help move you toward the place you want to be.