Chronic dissatisfaction is an epidemic in our outer-focused culture. We live in a world of “never enough.” Never thin enough, attractive enough, good enough, youthful enough, rich enough, happy enough or accomplished enough.
Human beings are hardwired to notice what’s missing. Rumor has it this wiring was intentionally designed to keep us on the lookout for unsafe threats. But what if our biggest threat is really our own minds, telling us we are not okay and we will only be okay if… or when…?
Given that our brains are wired for negativity and that we are surrounded by a goal-oriented, never enough culture, it can take a real effort to turn our attitudes around. But it is well worth the work. We actually have the control (to a large degree) to determine how positive or negative we feel, regardless of the circumstances of our lives.
There’s an old Cherokee legend about a grandfather who teaches his grandson an important life lesson. The grandfather explains to the young boy that we all have a battle going on inside of us.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves that live inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about this for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee replied simply, “The one you feed.”
We don't get to choose what “wolf” our parents fed inside themselves or which one they used to parent us but we can choose which one we feed inside ourselves every day. We can let our dissatisfied minds lead us around or we can take charge and regularly shift our focus to what we do have, what is working, how we are enough, and what we are grateful for.
Maybe you can give it a try. Spend some time each day practicing an Attitude of Gratitude. Become aware of when you are lashing yourself with a “not good enough” whip and set it down by thinking of the things you are grateful for, the things you love and the things that are working. Try asking yourself, several times a day: “Which wolf am I feeding?”
Andrea Wachter is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and co-author of Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Breaking the “I Feel Fat” Spell as well as The Don’t Diet, Live-It Workbook. She is also the author of Getting Over Overeating for Teens. Andrea is an inspirational counselor, author and speaker who uses professional expertise, humor and personal recovery to help others. For more information on her books, blogs and other services, please visit www.andreawachter.com.
I hope Andrea's writing helps Inspire Your Recovery. Xo, Angie