The story told by the native elder was that there are two wolves living inside each of us. One resides in our heads, and he or she is the Fear Wolf. This wolf feeds on negative energy, mean-spiritedness, and pessimism. The other resides in our hearts, and he or she is the Courage Wolf. This wolf feeds on lover, on service, and optimism. Clearly, the one feeding the wolves is ourselves… so…
Which wolf are you feeding?
This is such a beautiful, seeming simplistic story. And it is absolutely profound. Your entire life is determined by the quality of your thoughts. If you feed fear, negativity, and pessimism, you will be fearful, pessimistic, small, nasty, brutish. And you will be surrounded by like-minded people.
But if you feed courage, love, optimism, serving others, your life will be filled with those things, and you will attract like-minded people. So genuinely ask yourself which wolf you feed most of the time. Take time to reflect on this and journal.
This is a great self-awareness exercise to ensure that you are feeding the right wolf throughout the day.
Put a rubber band around your wrist, and any time you see it, ask the question “What wolf am I feeding now?” This will force you to check in to your attitude and energy. You will note whether you are thinking positive thoughts, or perhaps have slipped a bit into negative energy, or fear loop. You then have an opportunity to press a reset button, to reconnect with your witness and interdict the negative thought patterns. Some common fear wolf patterns to look out for:
- I am too tired to continue. (lack of drive)
- I can’t do this. (expression of weakness)
- You have got to be kidding, this is ridiculous! (looking for a way out of difficult task you agreed to undertake)
- He is arrogant. (judging is negative even if you feel justified. You may be projecting!)
- The world is a mess, the economy is imploding, everything is f-d up (you are a victim, acting out someone else’s story)
Noticing dialogue like this is your opening to stop feeding the fear wolf and start feeding the courage wolf. Courage wolf energy is kind, patient, tolerant, powerful and present. Courage wolf will avoid conflict and won’t hesitate to offer a helping hand and to celebrate the wins of others. If you sense yourself being negative, stop and ask, What wolf am I feeding now? Interdiction statements to use when you notice you are feeding fear could include:
- “Where is my head?”
- “I am not going to let this get to me!”
- “I am better than this!”
- “Let’s end this pity party”
- “I can do this!”
- “I’ve got this!”
- “Bring it on!”
Unseen challenges will trigger fear loops, and it is easy to slip into old fear wolf ruts. This skill must be practiced relentlessly to develop a permanent state of courage and positivity. Actions that support the courage wolf include:
- Searching for, and finding, the good in others, even strangers
- Avoiding snap judgments
- Forgiving yourself for screw-ups
- Looking for the good in the world
- Having the attitude that life’s an adventure
- Seeking out challenges and seeing all challenges as opportunities for growth
When I checked into SEAL BUD/s Class 170 I was a little nervous. The instructors seemed superhuman and the students like little ants running around. My class had 185 and the negative chatter and anxious faces revealed their fear wolves howling. I was picking up a lot of it myself and noticed tension in my stomach as fear settled in. I began to feed my courage wolf: Stop that Mark! I have trained hard and made it this far. Quitting is not an option. They will have to kill me to get me out of here!
As I said those words to myself internally, I felt the fear gradually melt away, replaced by courage. I was grateful that I had spent four years meditating and training my mind so I had the control to witness and dialogue with myself. What I did at that moment was to starve the fear and feed courage. I learned to do this every day in SEAL Training, and I was the number one graduate as a result. Negativity destroys performance… it is crucial to move from just witnessing negative thoughts to starving them and feeding the positive. The witness process introduced in Lesson One is your tool for this purpose.
Great work! Now let’s take a deeper look at how to forge enduring resiliency. Hooyah!