We often find it easy to help other people in our lives make a difficult decision, we can be objective and look at the pros and cons. In our own lives, we make decisions every day, mostly we do this alone but sometimes we reach out for advice to help us step back and see the options clearly. There are always two sides to consider and we go with the one we feel most comfortable with or the one we can tolerate the most.
Of course, life isn’t always quite that simple! Some decisions are extremely difficult, it can seem like choosing the lesser of two evils and we have to accept it. Sometimes, the choice is made for us and then we have a new decision - how do we respond, externally and internally.
There is another choice that is sometimes hard to see. We live with internal conflict about ourselves, negative thoughts swirl around our heads and sometimes these can bring our mood down or even develop into anxiety and depression. People tell us to think positively, but this seems impossible and we can turn the volume down on any positive thoughts that come in. Negative beliefs become louder and we spiral down into believing them and sometimes losing hope that we’ll ever be happy again.
It’s possible to help ourselves by using techniques to be that friend that we would be to others. Imagine if you spoke to yourself like a good friend or loved one would? How does your internal voice sound now? Imagine a volume control and you turn it up from 1 to 2, then louder and louder, until you can actually hear it and listen to the positive messages “your friend” is telling you. You might even be able to turn down the negative voice in the same way you would if someone was being negative towards you and you asked them to stop. You have the power to control the volume, it’s a choice you can make.
I love the Cherokee story of the two wolves. You can use the imagery of the wolves in the same way as the volume controls. I find this technique especially effective when working with school bullying when external negative voices get inside us and bring us down making it difficult to be assertive and dismiss the messages.
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.”