Although there are several versions of this old Cherokee Legend, the basic story, about how positive thinking changes your life, is as follows:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
How to Change Bad Habits
As a life coach, who helps women in transition find and reveal their authentic, core identity so they can navigate the changes in their lives with ease and grace, I am often called on to assist them to change bad habits and end unhealthy lifestyles or relationships. When breaking bad habits and creating new, healthier habits, it doesn’t matter if those bad habits are dietary, exercise related, spiritual, mental, or relational. What matters is that our sense of self, our identity and the direction of our life is the result of our habitual behavior. We are quite simply, the sum of our habits. The habits that we nurture and feed are the habits that grow, and the habits that grow are the people that we become. And dealing with transition is the perfect time to identify and create some healthy, new habits!
This morning I was working with a client and I asked her point blank which part of her she was nurturing. Was she nurturing the broken, wounded person she was trying to heal and move away from or was she nurturing the perfect, infinite, self inside that she wanted to embrace and become? She had spent years learning, healing and processing all that she had been through. Yet she continued to stay stuck in her wounded, still-trying-to-heal identity. Her continual focus on her old self constituted nurturing and feeding of the parts of herself that she no longer needed to feed. Her desire was to be healed, whole, free, healthy and happy, but very little of her daily actions or thoughts nourished or nurtured that part of her. She was so focused on what she didn’t want that she wasn’t able to nurture and grow all that she did want.
She had been feeding the wrong wolf.
How to Be a Better Person Starts With Choosing Who You Want to Be
Which wolf are you feeding? What are you nurturing and growing in your own life? Do you want to be deeply intuitive, successful and joyfully connected to life? Do you want to be quick thinking, decisive, energetic and able to let go and play without inhibition? Do you want to feel vibrant and powerful or calm and centered? Do you want to be an executive, a supporter, a supermodel or a loving grandparent?
How you want to look, act, feel and behave is up to you. We all have different roles, purposes, and desires and it is up to us to live our lives exactly as we see fit. I had one grandma who relished the stereotypical role of grandmother letting her hair go gray, wearing house dresses and keeping her glasses pushed down to the tip of her nose from age 40 on. I had another grandma who was young and vibrant with dark brown hair, hip clothing and involvement in pop culture until she passed away in her 80’s. They nurtured what they wanted and they became the wolf that they fed.
Small Actions, Big Impact
With summer around the corner, everyone wants to get in shape and lose weight. Imagine how you want your body to look and feel. Now, which body are you feeding, your current body or your intended body? How many of your daily thoughts and actions support your old body and how many of the support your intended body? As I sit here munching on a cupcake as I type my blog, I am aware that this action of sitting and eating does not support the body that I’m envisioning for summer! Although I will work out later and although I will have a healthy dinner, every action and thought still counts. I am aware of which body I am feeding.
Many of us are surrounded by difficult people or challenging situations and we desire to be the voice of reason or to at least not feel the impact and drama of other people’s situations. So, when we are confronted with challenging situations, which wolf do we feed? Do we give in and complain to our co-worker? Do we respond in a way that fuels the fire and increases our angst? Or do we feed our calm, centered, peaceful self and react with compassion, peace, and love?
When my children or husband push my buttons I know that my response will set the tone for the rest of the interaction. I can feed the part of me that wants to be right at any cost and that destroys relationships in the process. I can feed the victim in me, who is always overlooked and taken advantage of. Or, I can feed my higher, powerful self. We are the sum of our actions.
Are you nurturing the person you want to be?
Step back and take a look at the many wolves in your own life. Which ones are you feeding? The answers just might surprise you!
For more on this topic, check out this radio show: Ever wanted a Fresh Start?