3 Ways to Use Negative Feelings to Your Advantage

3 Ways to Use Negative Feelings to Your Advantage

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I've always loved the Aesop Fable that coined the expression “sour grapes.” It's about a fox that can't reach the grapes on a tree, and after many failed attempts, walks away grapeless, saying to himself, “Well, those grapes were probably sour anyway.”

The typical moral of this story is that people criticize what they can't obtain. We hate what we can't have. And this is too true-anyone with critics and haters understands this well.

But in a totally different interpretation, I've always liked the fox's attitude.

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We don't always get the metaphorical grapes, and that's OK. But what if we could learn to detach from our desire for them with the help of a little shade-rather than regret their absence or loss?

Here's how you can apply this on the daily:

1. So you didn't get a job…

Hey, the boss seemed like a control freak anyway! Right?

Don't obsess over what you could have done differently or should/shouldn't have said in the interview. If you didn't get the job, it wasn't your job. Now think for a moment… what was the less-than-perfect truth about it, really? Bad location? No WFH flexibility? A real bitch as a potential co-worker? You felt her attitude in interview No. 2!

Perhaps there wasn't that much of a boost to your paycheck or there was no signing bonus to celebrate with? Sprinkle the negative lavishly to Let. It. Go.

2. A date ghosts you…

It's happened to the best of us. Was he or she a player and you're better off not wasting your time? Is a ghosting-type really what you deserve?

In my 20s, I dated a guy once who I was soooo into, but he was soooo unreliable. I fretted. I cried to my girlfriends. I was deeply confused by him. One day, my best friend said, “Ya know… he's a weird one. What's he doing when he goes silent for days at a time? He might end up on Most Wanted on TV.”

It made me laugh. I didn't think he was a serial killer, but my friend's statement did help turn my attention to the things I didn't like about him. He was kind of into himself. And not good at communicating. Our dates had to be on his turf and terms. After a ponder, I couldn't help but land at… “Screw that!” A good old focus on the undesirable parts of this man put me in a much calmer, clearer state about releasing him.

Ironically, my phone then started blowing up with phone calls from him. “Ciao, psycho!” my friends would giggle when his name lit up my screen.

This is an important side note-releasing removes resistance. And no resistance allows you to attract better things-I met my now-husband weeks later. Letting go of old grapes leads you to new, juicy grapes… and fast.

3. You lost your coat…

I'm always surprised at how people suffer (and go on and on) when they lose something. In the long term, who cares? My mum always said, “Don't cry over things that wouldn't cry over you.”

Think about it: Your coat had a hole in it, right? And you already needed a new one? Or your umbrella? It's just an umbrella! A friend of mine lost her phone at a bar this summer and was phoneless for two whole days. She said it was… heaven! She wants to institute a no-phone policy for a whole day a week. “And your screen was broken!” I reminded her. Those grapes were sour.

It's up to us to reframe any perceived loss as a positive. Most recently, I severed a friendship and instead of mulling over it and feeling sad, I realized how much lighter and happier I am without this friend in my life (I used to dread our lunches-where it was 60 percent her complaining).

The best news? Nature abhors a vacuum. It's a universal law. That means that empty spaces fill quickly… but only when we let go of those grapes.

You can grab your sweet collection of Aesop's Fables here.

Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tueday for her latest No Regrets column!