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.”
The dark voices can be deafening.
It’s easy to find our cracks. The stories of our brokenness are so much louder than the stories of our brilliance. Our own worst critics, we talk to ourselves in ways we would never dare speak to our greatest enemies.
I recently returned from the Lululemon Ambassador Summit in Whistler, BC. The experience was, amongst many things, a series of Integrated Leadership Workshops. The most profound of these workshops, was the one that discussed the inner critic in all of us.
A group of 35 men and women from all walks of life were asked to go deep, to access that raw space that is in each of us to conjure up some of our most damaging thoughts of ourselves.
We were asked to consider the stories we hear when we are challenged to step out of our comfort zone. We were asked to feel into our self-doubts and limiting beliefs.
All we had was a circle of people in an empty room, one piece of paper and a pen. We were then asked to write down what came up for us.
“Go ahead and note exactly the thoughts that surfaced for you, then crumple that up and toss it in the garbage can in the middle of the room.”
Pen hit paper for all of us. Tears were already flowing around the room.
And, then one by one we crumpled up the ugly paper and tossed it emphatically in the garbage.
It felt cathartic. And, I had visions of a celebratory bonfire later.
At that point, the group leader went to the center of the room and explained what was about to happen.
“I’m going to reach into this garbage can and pull out one of these pieces of paper then read it out loud. The one who wrote it will simply come into the circle, pick up the next one, read it out loud…and so it will go.”
Oh. My. God.
We have to publicly own this stuff?
As each paper was read, there was a pause and then ownership.
- You will never amount to anything.
- You don’t deserve to be here.
- You are stupid.
- You will never be successful.
- Who do you think you are trying to accomplish these goals that are so much bigger than you.
- You are not capable or worthy.
- You will never be loved.
- You are not worthy of carrying a child.
- You are fat.
- You never graduated college. You will never have an impact.
- You are simply not enough.
Here I was, surrounded by 130 game-changers: elite athletes, diverse teachers, inspiring entrepreneurs and community leaders from around the world. Each one of us was selected to represent our regions and yet MANY of us could not understand what WE were doing there. There went the voices, “It must be a mistake. I’m not worthy of this.”
Honestly, I’ve spent the past decade with my two wolves vehemently battling each other. Teaching yoga is scary. There’s not someone else’s company or product to hide behind. It’s just you. All that you are made up of becomes your product, your brand, your trademark, your company, whatever you want to call it. But, it’s your passion, your life experiences, what you care most deeply about that you are out there sharing with others. THAT is scary. That gets my evil wolves howling.
Everyday I get up and step forward and I say “yes” in spite of the stories, in spite of fears. Because when I feed the evil wolf, it might feel safer in the moment but in the end I feel defeated and empty.
And, when I feed the good wolf, I KNOW I make a difference in the world. I’m in the flow, I feel energized and inspired to DO MORE.
Both wolves are hungry and vying to be fed.
Which wolf will you feed?