Introduction | My Story of Unnamed Frustration & The Swelling Anger
Have you ever felt that you’re drifting through life? Are you unhappy, and you don’t really know why? Do you feel frustration and anger swelling just beneath the surface? Does this rumble of anger seem as though it’s been growing and growing slowly in small chunks day by day, week by week, and year by year. Are you angry because you don’t know why you’re angry? Tell me, does any of this sound familiar? If so, then to you I say you’re not alone because “yeah, me too”.
I know this situation all too well because I’ve lived it. Let me tell you a bit about my story and see if you can relate as my story unfolds.
Ostensibly, I had all the reasons to feel good and be happy. I was happily married to a wonderful woman, my kids were great, my career was great, and we had carved out a wonderful life for ourselves by every measure. However, I had something in my life that was out of alignment. I did not know what it was, but I felt it’s subtle presence day in and day out. It rubbed on me. It agitated me, and eventually it angered me. This anger too started out as subtle. However, over time my anger became more persistent and powerful, changing me from someone who a happy-go-lucky cheerful dude to someone that was just a bear to be around. Mind you that I did my best to avoid these feelings. I did the best I could to contain these feelings. My external world seemed fine, but my internal world was crumbling. From the outside looking in it seemed like I had everything together, but on the inside I was coming unraveled more each passing day.
Worst of all these changes impacted those I loved the most. My constant baseline state of frustration caused me to quickly snap at my wife, which put her on a constant state of alert when she was around me. Her standard manner around me changed from happiness and delight to a defensive posture where she actively tried not to trigger me. My deep frustration was palpable to my children too. Like all children they are perfect and innocent, and they unfairly felt my unnamed frustration.
Eventually, I blew up.
There were warning signs along the way (ex. I got shingles in my mid 30’s), but I did not heed them. Instead, I bottled everything up, I did not purposefully seek to address my issues, and one day I snapped. My explosion came out as meaningless and baseless vitreal designed to hurt those most closest to me causing deep damage that took tremendous effort and time to repair.
Why did this happen? How could it? What the hell caused this and how have I missed it? It has taken me a long time to answer these questions, and the answers are deeply complicated and personal. However, there are some truths that I’ve discovered along the way that are commonly present in other people’s lives.
Unfortunately, my story is many people’s story, I see that more clearly than ever now, and I want to help you figure things out faster so you don’t find yourself singed by your own incendiary outlashing.
This is why I (Cody Strate), along with Davin Marceau (who’s story is similar to mine) have formed the Upward Spiral Group. We want you to learn from our mistakes. We want you to live a rich life with deep meaning and purpose. But first, we want you to wake up.
This is your Upward Spiral Wake Up Call.
As we go forward we will break down the core tenants of what is going on with so many people causing deep unnamed frustration that leads a state of near constant low-level anger, and then we will help you find your way out by covering the following topics. Let’s go, because you don’t have time to waste.
- Why So Many People are Asleep, Unhappy, and Growing Angrier
- Unmasking the Enemies | Complacency, Conformity, Acquiescence
- The Goal | Living a Rich Life with Deep Meaning & Purpose
- Urgency | Start Now As If Your Life Depends On It
- Where Do You Begin | Orient Yourself Around Purpose
- Understand The Cost | Don’t Expect Easy, but Expect It To Be Worth It
- Why Meaningful Growth Never Has a Finish Line
Why So Many People are Asleep, Unhappy, and Growing Angrier
I don’t care how old you are, I don’t care who you are, or how much money you have. I know that many of you are unhappy, and you don’t know why. Ask me how I know. Again, I know this because I was you. Look at your life. Look around you. What do you see? Allow me to ask you a series of questions…
- Have you been working hard all of your life to “arrive” at some point of success?
- Who defined what success looks like for you?
- Have you, for all intents and purposes, arrived at this success (ex. you’ve got the good career, the good house, the good family, etc)?
- When you look at the lives of others does it seem like they are “living the dream” and have it all effortlessly figured out?
- Are you comfortable in your life?
How frustrating is it that if you said “yes” to most of these, but you still have low-level frustration that’s turning into a rumbling of baseline anger. You’ve got it all right? So why the hell are you angry?
Let’s dive deeper.
Unmasking the Enemies | Complacency, Conformity, and Acquiescence
It may seem somewhat counterintuitive, but there are often big problems that come along with attaining comfort. There are also big problems when you’ve attained a state of success that is defined by others. Problems further develop when you mix the passing of time into the equation. Finally, there are big problems arise from looking at the lives of others and thinking that somehow they’ve got it all magically figured out.
These root problems manifest as complacency, conformity, and acquiescence. When combined these four ingredients form a devilishly toxic brew that when taken over time can lead to the slow death of our soul. Let’s shine a clear light on these four areas and clearly define them.
It should not be any surprise that we all want a level of comfort. However, there’s a problem with all of the comfort that we’ve built for ourselves in that it cuts us off from one of our most powerful human forces. You see, we humans are problem solving machines that come alive when we’re working on tough challenges. We thrive when faced with tough work that we’re passionate about. We get our blood pumping, our hearts pounding, and our brain cells firing .
So, the problem problem here is that the more comfort we seek and attain the more we remove challenges from our lives. This comfort deprives us of the challenges we really need, and it serves as a gateway drug to the underpinnings of what our unnamed frustration and anger is built upon. Simply put, too much comfort leads to complacency.
Complacency is built upon being satisfied and comfortable with where you are. When your complacent you try less, you push less, you strive less. In other words, if you’re complacent you’re not advancing, learning, growing, and your life can quickly become stagnant. The comfort that we all seek and attain carries the veiled perils of stagnation which is deeply toxic to our wellbeing and mindset.
Some of the most angry people I’ve ever encountered, myself included, are some of the most successful people I’ve met, and it begs the question of why does this phenomenon exist? Is there a correlation between anger and success? If you approach this padox from this position you’re likely not to find any answers that make sense. However, if you look more closely at “success” things get interesting.
What is success? What is your definition of success? Who or what set your definition of success? More often than not our definition of success is heavily influenced by a society that’s trying to sell you shit on a promise of happiness and the way things are “supposed to be”. So, we chase this definition of success as it’s been presented to us, we work hard, and then one day we “arrive” at a state of success only to find that what we were promised is not there waiting for us, or at best those promises of happiness are fleeting.
My point is what you’re doing and what you’re striving for what you want, or is it what you’re told you’re supposed to want. There is not much joy to be had in achieving someone else’s dreams and or some definition of success that we were sold on. Unfortunately, this my friends is what conformity looks like.
Conformity takes place when we choose to make someone or something else’s dreams our own. The really damaging part of this is until we define and chase our own definition of success, we actively lie to ourselves over and over that this, someone else’s definition of success, is what we want. This constant state of lying to ourselves that this is what we should want leads us deeper into into the next stage, further fueling our growing sense of frustration and anger.
The more that we tell ourselves that this state of “success” is what we want, because it’s what we should want, because it’s what everyone else is striving for, and so on, the more we find ourselves moving towards the dangerous state of acquiescence. We arrive at this state of acquiescence when we stop fighting, and we give in without protest that “this is our life I guess”. You just lie back, accept it, and let the waves of life and time pass over you. This is what giving up and giving in looks like. This is the death of a soul.
The problem is, if you’re like me, you still have something inside you that won’t give up nor will it give in. This nagging sense inside you won’t let you resign to this unsatisfying fate. Unfortunately, all of this energy runs completely counter to your desire for a state of acquiesced satisfaction. These two juxtaposed forces cause emotional friction and turmoil that often serve as the catalyst to convert your deep frustration into a state of volcanic anger. All it takes is time and your persistence of falsely demanding to yourself that you’re satisfied while not looking any deeper into the issue for this rub on your soul to build. If you’re in this state, then just understand that you’re in a state of danger.
A Note on Self-Protection | The interesting thing about being in this state is that most people are hyper-protective of the construct they’ve built for themself. After all, they’re “winning in life”. They’re successful. The last thing they want to do is critically look at their situation, and realize that what they’ve worked so hard for is not actually what they want. We will naturally protect ourselves from a situation where our reality could fallout from underneath us.
A Note on Jealousy | One thing I want to make clear is that jealousy can play a bit part in supporting an external and false construct of success. This situation of jealousy is readily supported by looking at the lives of others through the lense of social media. If all you see of someone else’s life is through the filter of their Instagram highlight reel, then yeah it’s very easy to become jealous. I could go on in this area, but I’ll refrain. Just know that what you often see of others lives is what they want you to see, it’s the best that they’ve got, what you’re seeing is just on the surface, and it’s likely they’ve got the same issues, angst, and insecurities as you and me.
The Goal | Living a Rich Life with Deep Meaning & Purpose
So, what is it that we’re really after then? If we’re proposing a serious wake up call to everyone what does that mean beyond stop with the conformity, complacency, and aquessance? It means we need to embrace a sense of urgency and start intentionally working towards building a rich life with deep meaning and purpose.
We need to determine what is it that really matters to us and what is worth us applying our time, effort, energy, talents, and treasure towards accomplishing. We need to figure out what our purpose is, plug into our passion, determine what kind of impact we want to make on the world, and then make it so. This won’t just happen because you wish it to be, and it certainly won’t happen with a passive approach. This is all about knowing what you’re about, what you want, and then applying intentional effort from yourself in order to make it happen.
Urgency | Start Now As If Your Life Depends On It
One of the common side effects of finally realizing what has been causing this underlying frustration and anger and waking up from a life moving along on autopilot is an intense sense of urgency. You will have a new sense of appreciation for your limited resource of time. You’ve wasted enough time so far, don’t waste any more, start towards the path of living a rich, full, meaningful life now. The problem is that it’s often not very clear where you should start. You may have a clear picture of what you want to move away from, but you’re not clear on where you should move to. Let’s dive into that.
Where Do You Begin | Orient Yourself Around Purpose
As you break free from the mindset that’s restrained your life, held you hostage, kept joy at bay, has not fed your soul, and kept you from experiencing deep meaning and purpose, you may find yourself a bit disoriented and wondering where to start. Trust me, I know the feeling, and you’ll likely have quite a bit of pent up energy that you’re eager to release towards forging a new path. How do you start to reorient yourself so you can apply this new energy? Begin with contemplation around purpose. If you’ve spent all of this time working on a construct of success that did not jive with you then let’s start to redefine that with a look towards sorting out your purpose. Figuring out your purpose is no easy task as it’s not something we’ve really been socially or mentally equipped for.
The best practice I’ve experienced in terms of figuring out how to reorient around a newfound purpose is to consider what you’re passionate about. What is it that moves you and stirs your soul? What is it that really matters to you? What is it that when you’re working in and around it that you seem to have endless energy? These are the telltale signs that you’re operating within or near your passion, and your purpose is in the vicinity.
One thing I want you to consider at this stage is that you should not put too much pressure on yourself to have a hyper-clear vision of your purpose. The process of discovering your purpose is often is an iterative process that evolves over time. Just find a starting point, get to work, and keep your eyes open as you go down the path.
Understand the Cost | Don’t Expect The Process to Be Easy, But Expect It To Be Worth It
This process of waking up from a life of being asleep at the wheel and moving towards building a rich life with deep meaning, purpose, and impact is not easy. Meaningful growth that attributes towards a life of power and impact is hard fought and comes at great cost. If you’re looking for the easy road then just stay on autopilot because this is anything but easy. I want you to enter into this process with complete clarity as to what’s in front of you, so that you’re properly prepared. Here are a few promises I can make you…
- I promise that you will struggle
- I promise you will hurt
- I promise that people who are looking for the easy life will gravitate away from you
- I promise that you will fail
- I promise that you will fail again, and again, and again
- I promise that you this is a slow and iterative process
- I promise that you’ll periodically lose your way
- I promise that you’ll get really frustrated with yourself
- I promise that at times you’ll want to give up and fold under the load
However, I also promise the following….
- I promise that you do have the strength inside of you to see this through
- I promise that this struggle will be worth it
- I promise your life will have more meaning than you’ve ever experienced
- I promise that you will find more joy in life
- I promise that people who are more aligned with your goals will show up
- I promise that you will find you have more grit, power, and strength than you realize
- I promise your life will have more impact in ways that you desire
- I promise that you will lift up those around you.
Why Meaningful Growth Never Has a Finish Line
As you go forward on this journey you should also understand that there is never a finish line. Your journey towards meaningful growth and a rich life of deep meaning and purpose is constant. Make your goals incremental, and you’ll grow in experience, competency, and wisdom as you constantly ascend higher going from one peak to the next with your view getting better with each ascent. This may seem like a never ending marathon, and guess what, you’re right. However, what you’ll find as you go forward is that you’ll become better, more efficient, and more resilient along the way. You will ascend to a peak, enjoy the view for a spell, and then you’ll happily begin your journey towards that next peak. It’s a good thing that keeps getting better, because at a fundamental level what you’re doing is feeding your soul.
Wake up! Stop living your life being asleep at the wheel just because you’ve attained some comfort. This excess of comfort leads to complacency. Complacency leads to conformity. Conformity leads to acquiescence. Acquiescence is fuel for anger. This anger occurs and grows in most people without an understanding of the root cause, and it can eat you from the inside out. You may have this sense of growing frustration and anger living inside of you today. Don’t plug your ears and try to drown it out. This is your soul screaming out that something is wrong. Don’t try and put a pillow over it and suffocate your soul. You are calling that you are not living the life you were meant to live.
Don’t stand for this any longer. Wake up, and start living intentionally so that you can manifest a rich life full of purpose, meaning, and value. Orient your life towards the goals you want to achieve. Live your life so that you can make the impact you want on this world. You’re not going to get tomorrow back, so don’t waste your today. Go and live, and know that you are not alone.