Dear Cassey: Is it healthy to use anger and revenge as motivation to workout?

Dear Cassey,
While exercising and eating healthy genuinely bring me a lot of happiness and joy, I find that sometimes my motivations aren’t always positive. Most of the time I’m thinking about my health and how good it makes me feel – but sometimes I find thoughts of anger and revenge help to push me farther than normal.
Just imagining the look on my cheating ex’s face when he realizes what he missed out on can get me to finish an extra half mile on the treadmill!
Is it unhealthy to think this way or is it just a normal thing everyone experiences?
Raging Runner

light match fire motivation

Dear Raging Runner,

I’d be lying to you if I said I’ve never done this.

In my opinion, it’s normal! I mean, to really dig deep and get in the zone, you have to find motivation somewhere! For some people it’s music with a killer beat, for others it’s competition, and for some of us, it’s taking out our anger on the treadmill.

If what you’re angry about still bothers you, it’s probably giving you extra (negative) energy anyways. Gotta burn that off somewhere, right?! Might as well be productive about it 🙂

Working out is therapeutic for that reason. It’s an outlet and stress reliever like NO OTHER. So when you’re using those thoughts of revenge or anger as motivation to push harder, you’re also releasing those feelings. And all of us need to do that every now and again. ESPECIALLY if you’ve been through something like a bad breakup. That stuff seriously weighs you down otherwise.

Now…OBVIOUSLY I wouldn’t recommend digging up those negative feelings every time you workout. Constantly being in that state of mind isn’t great for your mental health. I think it would be really easy to become dependent on that anger, which can be very emotionally draining.

Here’s my two cents: your workout is a great place to unload heavy feelings. Definitely use your feelings if it pushes you during a workout… but only if you still come out feeling great and positive in the end. DON’T use feelings to cover up bigger issues in your life. And NEVER EVER dig up those feelings if they turn into negative self-talk (what did I do wrong, etc.) Nope. None of that.

You could also try putting a more positive twist on these feelings. Like, instead of “just wait until he sees what he’s missing,” think “ummm who knew I could be so STRONG” or “WHOA I came out of this happier and more motivated than ever.” Seeing the way a bad situation actually changed your life for the better is some of the best motivation out there. Use it.

Thank you for this question! I hope this helps. It really is something I think most of us have done, and now I’ll be paying more attention to what I use the most to fire up that extra motivation.

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

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