A very important part of life is accepting that messed up things happen sometimes. It would be great if all of our life experiences were positive and we spent our days happy with zero worry, stress or sadness. But unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Bad things do happen and negative experiences become a part of our stories. Some things, admittedly, are just so horrible that it’s nearly impossible to see any good in them. But with the lesser extremes, it’s possible to reach a place where you start making the negatives work for you.
Video game analogy/The life cheat code
This article’s analogy will be best understood by gamers, but for everyone else, I’ll go into more detail. Imagine if life was a video game, and you found out that there was a cheat code. Best part? You wouldn’t get banned from playing the game. Instead, you’d continue getting the benefits forever. All you had to do was learn how to use the code and you were set for life. I’ll explain what all this means in a second, but first, definition of a cheat code:
A cheat code is generally a code, method or device used by gamers to advance levels, or to get other special powers and benefits in a video game. It could be series of alphanumeric codes or keyboard combinations which can give the gamers an added advantage over other gamers who do not use a cheat code (Techopedia).
The life cheat code that I’m talking about here is MAKING THE NEGATIVES WORK FOR YOU. In this life “game”, you are either going to get positive or negative experiences. The positive ones will allow you to advance to higher levels, but the negative ones? They’re meant to slow you down. You want to graduate but you keep on failing that one module – negative. You were let go at work – negative. If you master the mentality that you can use anything thrown at you to advance to higher levels, whether positive or negative, then you have mastered the life cheat code.
Let’s look at how this can be achieved with the two previously mentioned scenarios:
1. You want to graduate but you keep on failing that ONE module.
Clearly, this is meant to slow you down. I want to prove a point that with many (BUT NOT ALL) of life’s negatives, it’s possible to tilt them into your favour. You can choose to go through this difficult experience and learn nothing from it, or you can come out of it stronger. Because you’re only left with one module, you can use the rest of your available time to learn a valuable skill. It could be a skill that will put you in a better position when you eventually pass and start looking for work.
Other students would have graduated quickly and immediately started looking for work, but you may find that you’re in a better position because that skill that you learnt coloured your CV, separating it from the duller ones. A cheat code “gives the gamers an added advantage over other gamers”. What was meant to slow you down has not only failed in doing so, but put you in a better position than many other people. Making the negatives work for you.
2. You were let go at work.
As you’re reading this you’re probably thinking, “Come on now, Ruva. How can I possibly make that negative work for me?”. And to you my dear I say, maybe you were too comfortable in that job. Your dream has always been to start businesses and be your own boss but you settled into that job for way too many years. This is now your opportunity to take that leap of faith. While you’re sending your CV to other companies (because we always need a backup), start that business! Now’s the best time because you’re not occupied by your job.
Create the business plan, look for investors, pour yourself into this dream that you’ve always had. Or maybe your job conflicted with your passion, and you couldn’t make time. This is the time! Take your passion more seriously and maybe that’s where your next pay check will come from. Making the negatives work for you.
And that’s the cheat code. You are using the very things that are meant to slow you down to advance to other levels!
The reaction is up to you
Usually, life is not about what happens, but rather, how you respond to what happens. In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey states that between a stimulus and response, there is freedom to choose. Between the things that happen to you or for you, you have the freedom to choose how you’re going to react! That’s why we sometimes find people who have good things happen to them but respond negatively.
“Uurgh, I ONLY got 89% on this test!! 😡”. In that same class, someone else is going “Yes! I got 50% on the test, which means I passed!! 😁”. The way you react to situations is entirely up to you, and this goes for both the negatives and the positives. When you go through something bad, your response is not already created for you. You don’t HAVE to respond negatively to a negative stimulus. You have the freedom to choose your reaction.
The person that can’t be dissed
Have you ever come across a person who can never be dissed? Someone will say to them:
“You look like a rotten apple”, and their response will be: “Well at least farmers can use me for manure and hundreds of other fresh apples will grow because of me” 😂😂. They’re making the negatives work for them, and that’s the way it should be.
However: Beware of Toxic Positivity 🛑
Making the negatives work for you doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to feel all the emotions that come with bad experiences. In fact, it’d be unhealthy to sweep all those emotions under the rug and just “think of the positive side”.
Very Well Mind has this to say on the topic of toxic positivity: Those emotions, while often unpleasant and hard to deal with, are important and need to be felt and dealt with openly and honestly. Toxic positivity takes positive thinking to an overgeneralized extreme. This attitude doesn’t just stress the importance of optimism, it minimises and denies any trace of human emotions that aren’t strictly happy or positive.
Remember the two scenarios we discussed earlier? Continuously failing a module and being let go at work? Those are not positive experiences. You’re allowed to feel angry, sad, frustrated, annoyed, whatever emotion comes to you! Making the negatives work for you is not about disregarding natural human emotions that come as a result of bad experiences. It’s about feeling those emotions, and then moving past them. It’s about refusing to be defined by the bad things that happen to you. Feeling emotions is very important. If something makes you sad, feel sad. If something makes you angry, feel angry. What you shouldn’t allow yourself to do is to dwell on those emotions. Feel them and let them go. Feel them and move. (Advice from Ruva). Don’t fall into the trap of toxic positivity.
You now have the life cheat code 🎮 So start making the negatives work for you!
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