Mental Health Wellness Q. I was clinically depressed 6-10 years ago and have a hard time pushing myself to be ambitious, and was recently given some bad news. For some reason, anger and revenge (in the Michael Jordan taking offense kinda way) is what pushes me. Adopting this mindset lights a huge fire in me and definitely helps me avoid feeling bad/depressed. Anyone else feel this way? Is this normal thinking?

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I think the first step on something like this is recognizing it and talking about it with others. Anger and revenge are easy motivators- humans are built for group conflict. Working hard to find other reasons to get up and go do is work worth the time. For me this has come from the realization that helping others and spending time with others is the reason why we’re here.

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I’m slightly concerned about building sociopathic tendencies including general lack of empathy, callousness, impulsiveness, and general disregard for right and wrong.

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Thank you! Yeah I’ve leaned on this mindset in the past when I needed more motivation. It was pretty, but it helped me kill the GMAT, improve in the gym, hike some mountains and glaciers, and get into a top business school. Most of all, it helped me get out of my head and not sulk. I also understand how petty and unhealthy it is to use cheating SOs, managers that I felt wronged me (without knowing their true intent obviously), etc. and hold those grudges just to get from point A to point B. To be honest, it’s a big reason why I have made it as far as I have.

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I think that’s pretty….if not “normal” or “understandable,” it’s at least “logical.” Anger *is* energizing - and that energy can be harnessed to do impressive things. The problem is that it doesn’t come without a cost - it’s like the drug that gives you superhuman strength, but makes you grow an extra set 3 toes in the process. Your relationships are probably suffering. You might not end up being the leader you want because you don’t allow yourself to be empathetic. You might be missing out on a lot of joy because you are so consumed with finding all of the ways you are being wronged or cheated. It would seem to me that it tap into these intense emotions that fuel your ambitions, you’ve got it in you regardless - but it’s a new muscle you’re going to have to develop. Kicking ass at work because you want to create something new can be as motivating as wanting to beat your manager, but you’re going to have to teach yourself how to do it - and that probably starts with being a lot more honest and digging deeper into yourself. Find your passion - but the positive kind that is about you, not you in relation to others.

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It seems like a really unhappy way to live your life if you have to look for wrongs and fights to stay motivated and fired up. I would work with a therapist on this to see if you could find a way to find intrinsic motivation to reach your goals and ways to be happy and content with others.

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