How to make sure you are feeding the good one:
I don’t mean feeding in the traditional sense. This type of feeding has nothing to do with nutrition, but everything to do with a diet that goes far beyond eating organic fruits and vegetables. I’m talking about your “other” diet. The diet that is more encompassing and involves what you feed your body emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The diet that is as indispensable to your well-being as your nutrition.
There is an old Cherokee tale that hangs on a tapestry in my kitchen as a daily reminder to make sure I am feeding the good wolf. The tale goes like this:
The Tale of Two Wolves
One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, doubt, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, forgiveness, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked the grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Which wolf are you feeding?
The attention you give to your thoughts and emotions plays a vital role in the quality of your life. Giving attention to negative thoughts and emotions can affect not only your mood, but also contribute to your outlook, motivation, success, quality of sleep, happiness, and dis-ease. The good news is you have a choice in which wolf you feed. Realizing you have full control over this choice is the first step in learning how to feed the right wolf. Too often I hear people say, “I don’t know why I feel so angry, jealous, frustrated, bored, etc. I just do. I can’t help it. It’s just who I am.” Does this sound familiar?
We have a motto in our house. “You choose what you focus on and what you focus on grows.” When you focus on qualities of the good wolf, those qualities grow stronger. This is a practice in rewiring your brain to consciously choose what is best serving you and moving you forward. This does not mean you are ignoring the angry wolf, as that would lead to another internal battle. Rather, acknowledge the angry wolf as one that is asking you to take notice. There is something to learn from the anger, envy, jealousy, doubt, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego inside of you. You can begin to ask yourself why those emotions are coming up in that particular moment. Feed the good wolf and acknowledge the evil wolf. The good wolf becomes the leader from whom you follow. Changing your thoughts and strengthening what better serves you can truly change your life!
What is fueling your thoughts?
Ask yourself these questions about your “other” diet:
- What are you watching?
- What are you listening to?
- Who are you surrounding yourself with?
- What are you reading?
- What fills your environment?
- What are you thinking?
- How much of your learned patterns are influencing your thought process?
You may discover your evil wolf is an incredibly demanding, ravenous animal that is hard to control. It’s cravings are powerful. The answers to these questions may lead you in discovering what exactly these cravings are. Is it craving the news, a controversial topic, an unorganized space, an unhealthy relationship, or maybe that conversation you just had in your head about what you should have said to the person causing you frustration? It is human nature to experience all of these emotions, so don’t be discouraged when they present themselves. Choose how often you expose yourself to experiences that fuel this wolf. Recognize the triggers and become curious about them. Begin to limit what brings out the evil wolf and explore experiences that strengthen the good wolf.
There is no such life as one without challenge or struggle.
If you are always trying to get to a place of comfort and ease, you will not only be continually disappointed, but also spending time on a goal that is impossible to reach! Life doesn’t exist solely in happiness and joy. It does not begin when you get the job, lose the weight, find the right partner, make more money, or whatever label you’ve given to the thief of your joy. Life is right now. Today. With all of its challenges, celebrations, positives, and negatives. Life is about falling down and getting back up. It’s about experiencing each one of your feelings and discovering how to have a healthy relationship with your emotions. Getting off the emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows and learning how to embrace everything as a wonderful package of your genuine human qualities is where the power lies. You are responsible for your own emotions.
Listen to Lisa Feldman Barrett explain how we are not at the mercy of our emotions in her Tedx Talk!
The balance is in taking things as they come and focusing on what we can control. This will help you move through obstacles with more ease and find more joy in the successes. Shifting the control from your emotions to your actions creates a healthier relationship with the wolves. You may not have control over the first thought you have, but you do over what happens next! If your first thought upon waking up is “I don’t want to get up to exercise,” your brain’s first reaction will be to come up with 5 million reasons why you should stay in bed.
Then begins the internal argument. “Just get up! You didn’t sleep very well last night, you deserve to stay in bed longer. You always do this, just get up. You worked out hard yesterday. You deserve a day off. You can work out tonight. Get up! I don’t want to.” Before you know it, you have entered a shame spiral that has taken up as much time as it would have taken to complete your workout and now you are going to be late for work. If only you would have acknowledged that first thought and stopped it in its tracks with a conscious thought that moved you in the direction of your goal. If your goal is to exercise in the morning, you need to get out of bed. The inner monologue will continue to find excuses for you to stay in bed. Of course it’s warm and cozy. Of course it is more comfortable than your workout. The second thought must then be one leading to action. Less thinking. More doing!
Check out London Real as he talks about controlling your thoughts.
Each time I walk past the tapestry in my kitchen, I am reminded of the power I have to choose. It acts as an unavoidable signal to reflect on the amount of fuel I am allowing each internal wolf. If the tapestry could talk, it would tell you on some days it receives vulnerable nods of promise for growth and enlightenment, while other days it’s merely a dismissive eye roll and an under-the-breath “ugh…fine.” Nevertheless, it forces me to take a deeper look inside, seek understanding and decide which wolf will prevail. After all, the choice is mine to make.
What will you choose?
Having trouble quieting the evil wolf?
If you would like to talk through how to better manage the unhelpful inner chatter, consider scheduling an in-depth Health and Wellness Consultation. I will ask you questions, answer all of your questions and provide honest feedback during this 45-minute Facetime, Skype, Zoom or phone conversation. Mental and emotional wellness is important! Learning the proper tools in quieting this part of your inner being has an incredible impact on your overall health and wellness. It can change your life!
Learn more about this consultation and how to schedule yours HERE.