There is an old Cherokee tale that shows the power we all have over our lives. It goes like this:
A wise Cherokee tells his grandson about the inner battle that rages within each of us.
"Within each person there is a battle between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is envy, greed, jealousy, arrogance, inferiority, self-pity, resentment, lies, false pride and superiority.
The other wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, empathy, hope, kindness, truth, generosity, compassion, courage, faith and trust."
The grandson thinks about it and then asks his grandfather, "And which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee replies, "The one you feed."
This great story shows, that we can control our own lives with our thoughts and actions: What we focus on, and thereby feed with our energy, grows! This is true in every area.
In the Meine Bauchgefuehle System we look at everything holistically and we will therefore approach this teaching on the physical, psychological and emotional level. But, before we do that, let's look at what exactly feeds each wolf.
What feeds the bad wolf
If you want to feed the bad wolf, you probably don’t have to do anything. Because in our society today, this wolf is the one that is automatically being fed. This happens for several reasons... One of them is the so-called negativity bias in our brains, that ensures that we primarily focus on negative, i.e. threatening things, that could threaten our survival.
This makes it "easier" to focus on the negative.
Also, fear is known to be the most powerful tool to control people. And it is being used intentionally. We just have look at mainstream media, which reports about worldwide war, crises and catastrophes 24/7. We are permanently kept in a non-stop state of fear and we feel helpless to do anything about it. We rarely find positivity on such a large scale – even though it exists! This paints a very negative picture of the world and our role and power in it.
Our programming and worldview are mainly negative.
In addition, we are conditioned in our childhood to question our innate talents, strengths and gifts (am I good enough?) and to hide them so as to not stand out, appear vain and be ostracized. We learn to constantly compare ourselves to others. Which leads to doubting our abilities and prevents us from discovering our uniqueness.
We are seldom encouraged to dream even bigger and to follow our desires. We are conditioned to always think about obstacles and problems first. But, considering these from the get-go can suck the energy out of our goals and make it difficult or even impossible to achieve them.
How often are we being told that something is unrealistic or just a pipe dream? How many people support vs. question our goals? But most of the time, they don’t do it out of ill will, but because they see the situation through the lens of their own failures and learned hopelessness. It would also hurt their ego to see someone accomplish what they couldn’t.
Instead of strengthening and proudly using our innate talents, we are encouraged to focus on our weaknesses, and to improve on them. We see this for example in the concept of tutoring. Where those areas are focused on in which a child performs worse than other children. Instead of supporting them in fields that are easy for them and helping them to further develop their talents.
This leads to us sinking into a uniform pool of mediocrity. And most people never dare to shine their unique light.
Fear, doubt and limiting beliefs
Do these fear-driven questions sound familiar? Am I really good enough for my dream job? Does he or she really like me for who I am? Will I ever be as beautiful, rich and successful as ...? It's always been like this in my family. Why should it be any different for me?
The voice of the bad wolf tells us that we are not enough, that our dreams and desires are unattainable and that other people are "luckier or have better genes" and therefore get the perfect partner or body. We, however, cannot...
The limiting beliefs we have formed over the years solidify into prison walls around us, that prevent us from even thinking about what might lie behind them. Because it would be "too good to be true" we don't even allow ourselves to think about a "better future." Who are we to reach it?! We don't deserve it anyway - says the bad wolf.
Is this really true?
But what if, we have not yet achieved our deepest desires because we don’t take them and our power seriously?! And as we don't follow our heart, and make our decisions out of fear instead of love, we don't even try...
When we think negatively about ourselves, speak harshly or even hatefully to ourselves, condemn or punish ourselves for small setbacks and mistakes, and see only the negative, we are feeding the bad wolf. This is why it is so important to learn to observe and question our thoughts. Just because we think something, doesn't mean it's true. (In fact, because of all the limiting beliefs we have accumulated, it’s probably quite the opposite!)
So, don't believe everything you think!
Dealing with negative emotions
All of this doesn’t mean, however, that we should deny and suppress negative thoughts and emotions! Negative emotions are a perfectly normal biological reaction to negative thoughts. They always bring a message that needs to be understood.
How to deal with "negative" emotions:
Recognize and name them.
Accept them and feel them completely.
Find out what triggered them.
Express them in a safe setting (writing, yelling, venting, moving, etc.).
Look for the message they are conveying and take it seriously.
Make changes respectively.
Arising anger might show you for example that your boundaries have been crossed or that you need to communicate more clearly. Maybe your anxiety is telling you that you don't feel safe with this person or in this situation and you should remove yourself from it.
What feeds the good wolf
In short: The decision to see and live the positive.
In the beginning, it will take some practice to feed the good wolf within you, as we are as previously described "wired" towards the negative. The first step is, deciding to feed the good instead of the bad wolf. After that, you need to become aware of when you are automatically slipping into negative thought patterns.
When you realize that you are following old, limiting beliefs, you can question them and consciously decide how you want to think and act instead. This reprogramming takes some patience and dedication. Fortunately, there are various techniques that can help you. I am here to support and coach you on your own personal journey.
These questions will help you gain awareness about your thoughts and behaviors:
Why am I reacting like this in this situation? When did I react the same way in the recent past? When did I first react this way and why?
Is this the best and highest behavior for me and others in this situation?
Do I want to be a person who behaves this way? If not, how would I like to behave instead? How can I do it differently the next time?
Is this thought really true? If not, why do I think this way? When did I form this belief and why? What would I like to think instead?
How many decisions a day do I make out of fear and how many out of love and hope?
What would I do if I were not afraid?
What has kept me from feeding the good wolf so far?
Am I afraid of good things? If so, why?
Do I believe I deserve good things? Why/why not?
What have I already lost in my life because of a negative attitude and subsequent actions?
How would my life change if I focused on the positive?
What do I have to lose? Is it worth it?
Is the perceived (!) safety of my comfort zone worth not taking risks in my life? Would I regret not having tried?
If you have decided to feed the good wolf, here are a few feeding tips:
Always treat others and yourself in respectful and loving ways. Often, we find it harder to act lovingly towards ourselves. These 25 Self-Care Tips will help you to recognize your needs and take good care of yourself.
Learn to express and process your emotions.
Become aware of your limiting beliefs and change them into positive ones.
Talk positively to yourself, celebrate small and big successes, and reflect on your strengths.
Become aware of everything you've already achieved in your life and write a success list to remind yourself.
Affirm how you want to be and create the life you desire.
Practice gratitude and spread it out into the world.
Help others. This triggers a ripple effect and will come back to you manifold.
On all levels, let go of the things that don’t benefit you and make room for a fresh start.
Seek support and surround yourself with people who feed the good and help you do the same.
Go within and find out what feeds your good wolf.
Holistic Wolf Feeding
Finally, let's look at how you can feed the wolf of your choice on all levels:
Did you know that every dietary choice you make affects your microbiome and your health? Therefore, on a physical level, we take it literally and ask ourselves who we are feeding with our diet?
If you're looking for tips on how to physically feed yourself in the best way possible, continue reading here.
On the mental level, we can ask ourselves if courage or regret are influencing our decisions and why learned helplessness can sabotage our plans.
On the emotional level, we address the question, "What eats us from the inside and how can we deal with emotional eating?"
The story of the two wolves shows once again that our wellbeing lies in our own hands. It’s our choice which wolf to feed and whom we thereby "give the power." So, what do you choose? Which wolf will you feed?
Only when you do what you know, you really know what you do.
Let me know in the comments below, what insight you got from this blog and how you will put it into action.