One day my girlfriend said “You know, I am not changing; I like myself.”
That was a game changer comment in my world. I reflected… Could I honestly say that? Honestly? I looked in the mirror and asked…”Do I love myself’?“ Well maybe not. So I asked “Do I like myself?” Yes…kind of. The next question was “What would it take for me to ask the question…Do I love myself? And without hesitation or but; but; but; say “YES.” ”
Skip Downing, in his well-designed personal growth work, On Course, talks about our inner critic: I beat myself up, our inner defender: I beat others up, and our inner guide: I am kind to myself; and about the conversations we have with ourselves in our heads.
I attended a conference and heard of this tale from the Keynote Speaker:
"Two Wolves" A Cherokee Legend
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."
Here is the same story, but it is called "Grandfather Tells" which is also known as "The Wolves Within"
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, "Let me tell you a story.
I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed.”
Note: this story can also be found at: http://www.firstpeople.us
My challenge certainly was deciding which voice to listen; to or which wolf to feed. AND getting to a place of saying “Well, either stop doing that - or stop beating myself up.” What might I be beating myself up for? Eating too much; not getting up in the morning to exercise; not calling my mother enough; not handling things right at work; or having an extra glass of wine. I am sure it would be easy for each person to make their own list.
I’ve invested the time in my life to make small course corrections. Over the last few years I’ve worked continuously and consciously to teach myself to have nicer conversations with myself, about myself in my head. Now I am able to say “I love my life” and mean it! And each and every day I am getting closer to saying, authentically, “I love myself!”