Over the past few weeks, I have listened to my clients tell fantastic, well reasoned stories about the facts of their lives. The facts are real – be it a conflict, a failure, an extremely busy household, or a toxic work environment. The negative, defeating interpretation of the facts is a choice, which turns into the story.
The more often you tell yourself a story, the more ingrained it becomes. Eventually, it is your default perspective. It weighs you down and prevents you from taking action towards your best self. Unfortunately, getting to that place is not difficult – it is much easier to create a story that keeps you down.
When you find yourself stuck in your story, ask yourself:
How does this story serve me?
What does that mean, you say? Take a minute and think about it – you may find that it serves you by keeping you complacent, maintaining the status quo, permitting you to complain, sit on the couch, or wallow in self-pity. If that story didn’t exist in your mind, you may actually be forced to face your situation head on and tackle the hard stuff.
I came across a saying years ago, as I facilitated support groups for women with eating disorders: “What you feed your body, you feed your soul.” This is a powerful message in the context of food and how we take care of ourselves. But its application goes far beyond food. It reminds us that how we feed ourselves, literally and metaphorically, alters the course of our lives.
The good news is that it really is within our control. Here is a piece of Native Wisdom I discovered in the backseat of a New York City taxi:
A Grandfather from the Cherokee Nation was talking with his grandson.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight between two wolves.”
The young grandson listened intently.
“One wolf is evil, unhappy, and ugly: He is anger, envy, war, greed, selfishness, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority/superiority, false pride, coarseness, and arrogance. He spreads lies, deceit, fear, hatred, blame, scarcity, poverty, and divisiveness.”
“The other wolf is beautiful and good: He is friendly, joyful, loving, worthy, serene, humble, kind, benevolent, just, fair, empathetic, generous, honest, compassionate, grateful, brave, and inspiring resting wholeheartedly in deep vision beyond ordinary wisdom.”
The grandson paused in deep reflection of what his grandfather had just said. Then he exclaimed; “Oyee! (in recognition).
Grandfather continued; “This same fight is going on inside you, and inside all human beings as well.”
The grandson paused in deep reflection and recognition of what his grandfather had just said. Then he finally cried out deeply; “Oyee! Grandfather, which wolf will win this horrific war?”
The elder Cherokee replied, “The wolf that you feed. That wolf will surely win!”
If you find yourself stuck in your story and not sure how to feed the right wolf, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.