How to Flip Anger Into Productivity
Imagine if you could flip anger into fuel for a procrastination-busting work session!
There’s no question emotions have an impact on your productivity. They affect your energy, focus, willpower levels, etc. For instance, when you’re happy, you get more done, right? Better working relationships, more stamina, etc.
But what about negative emotions? Most of the time, they make us overreact, make bad decisions, have a tough time focusing.
But there’s a mechanism in every emotion — particularly negative emotions — that can be leveraged to fuel your productivity and quality-of-life.
So, in a society that tells us to guard our emotions, to not show them, to “stuff them back in,” we should actually welcome them. Because we can flip them to our advantage. And I’ll share the mechanism for doing that, and the simple secret to flipping the most common negative emotion — anger — into a natural ADHD remedy.
How Emotions Become Destructive — or Productive — Behaviors
Our strongest emotions are usually triggered when we sense that something important to our welfare is afoot: our safety, self-esteem, or sense of fairness. When our welfare is enhanced, we get positive emotions: happiness, joy. But when our welfare is threatened, negative emotions are triggered — along with behaviors in response to the threat.
The question that arises in the context of our ADHD and productivity is: Given our emotional response, What will be our behavioral response? Will it be destructive or productive? We do have a choice.
There are three ways to respond to an emotion:
- Suppressing: We think that by avoiding how we feel, we’ll…feel better;
- Fixating: Doing so gives us an identity as a victim, in which we can find some comfort); and…
- Acceptance and Problem-Solving: Needless to say, the most likely to be a productive strategy.
Let’s look at these in the context of one of your most powerful emotions, anger: when our primitive lizard brain is screaming, This is not right! Something needs to change! This cannot stand!
Maybe a difficult situation you’ve been put in, or an unmet expectation or betrayal of some sort. A somewhat extreme example, but perfect for our exercise here, would be road rage…
Let’s say you’re on the freeway driving your family to grandma’s birthday party when suddenly a young hothead zooms past you, cursing and flipping you the bird, then cuts in front of you so close you have to hit your brakes to avoid his rear quarter panel. You’re furious – not just because this guy put your family’s safety at risk, but because you’ve just been psychologically assaulted. Both of which cannot stand!
Now, you can suppress this anger — pretending everything’s just fine while your subconscious seethes. You can fixate on the emotion — let it have its way with you — with a retaliatory hand gesture, or by loudly venting in the car to your family members.
Either of which may make you feel different in the moment, but neither will actually make you feel better. (Research going back to 1959 shows that fixating on anger does little more than put the public at risk!)
That brings us to the third strategy to deal with this anger: Acceptance and problem-solving…
“OK, that guy’s a jerk. I’m understandably angry. Now, how do I solve my most pressing problem, that being the risk to my family’s safety?” And you don’t have to be Gandhi to know there are several smarter, more peaceful solutions than suppressing or fixating.
I know. It’s easier said than done.
But here’s the good news: All emotions have “adaptive value” — meaning they can be adapted to help us cope and respond to difficult situations.
And here’s even better news: Negative emotions in particular — anger, sadness, resentment, etc. — have massive adaptive value – because at the heart of every negative emotion is that underlying sense that something…must… change! This cannot stand!
Your anger is a potential natural ADHD remedy? Yep.
This is the mechanism that helps you flip your emotions into productivity gold. As Peter Diamandis said, “A problem is a terrible thing to waste. I think of problems as gold mines.” And you can think of negative emotions in the same way.
How to Flip Anger Into Productivity
Since anger is – as with all negative emotions – grounded in a feeling that something needs to change, that feeling creates energy. Sometimes, massively destructive energy that we just blast out into the world. But author Soleira Green suggests, rather than blasting the energy out…
“Put the anger and its energy in front of you…What’s triggering me – what’s underneath it…What do I CARE about that’s making me angry?”
“Now, what could I do to use that energy to move forward on this thing that’s making me angry?”
With these simple questions, she’s describing the creation of what I call a Negative Nag. Dimensionalizing that which ticks you off in order to fuel motivation and problem-solving.
As Green puts it, “Anger is the tip of passion. You wouldn’t get upset if you didn’t care so much about something! Anger is your own body telling you, ‘Hey, here’s something that matters…and here’s some energy to deal with it!’”
So, next time you’re angry about something (even at yourself), observe that energy and ask that series of questions. This is a powerful natural ADHD remedy!
Oh — and you don’t have to get run off the road to benefit from negative emotions…
Want to Learn How to Flip Sadness and Anxiety Into Positive Action?
So much of what you do every day — whether answering a client email, negotiating with a supplier, or wrangling your teen — generates emotions: anger, joy, frustration, worry.
All of which have huge potential for our productivity because they can all be flipped. But the three most common negative emotions are the most readily flippable into a gold mine of performance or productivity: anger, sadness, and anxiety.
I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to these three. I show how flipping sadness (no stranger to us ADHDers) can result in powerful analysis and fresh perspectives/solutions. And flipping anxiety (another frequent visitor to our tribe) is as easy as saying three words. I kid you not. Research from Harvard Business School has demonstrated its efficacy!
Preview the episode below…
P.S. You might get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I dig deeper into this topic. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time ya like.) It’s Episode 81, and you can preview that episode at either link or by clicking the image below.