I Love Myself, I Love My Life…

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!”

Recognition Gone Bad

Why do we bully others?

Why do some people feel bullied and others just laugh?

What is destructive?

What is constructive?

My girlfriend and I decided to offer entrepreneurship in Drayton valley to our local school students.  We printed flyers and mailed them to every student ‘s home that were between grades 9 and 12.  Junior Achievement offers many financial literacy programs that volunteers teach in schools.  We wanted to teach entrepreneurship so we chose to offer the Junior Achievement Company Program where students learn to start a company, produce a product, take it to market and then wrap up the company all in 17 weeks.  This is a really fun well designed program that is taught to 90,000 students worldwide.  (We can help you start a program in your community)

Things were going pretty well and them wammo…a reported incident of bullying!  Dealing with that was not part of the curriculum.  Being a graduate of 21st Century Leadership, and a graduate of On Course for facilitators and a life long learner I scrambled for a mature way to deal with this without raising defenses and making it personal, seeking to create value for all participants.

So for that evening, we defined BULLYING as “getting your need for recognition met destructively” by making someone else look bad so you could feel better…basically getting your need for recognition met destructively. 

First, we all agreed that at some level we had a need for recognition.

Then we broke into small groups and talked about hurtful or mean things we had done.

We agreed that for the short term we might have felt powerful, but we never did feel very good for very long.

Second we brainstormed a list of several ways we could get our need for recognition met constructively:

1. Be kind to others

2.  Do a favor for others

3.  Just do things that need doing

4.  Volunteer

5.  Teach Sunday School

6.  Babysit for free

7.  Do things without being asked

This is a group of students who are in grades 9-12…their list was lengthy and amazing.

Then we sat each kid up at the front one at a time and got the other kids to say all the nice things they could think about this person and gave each of them their list…this process may be uncomfortable for some…but educate and encourage them to relax and enjoy the recognition and say thank you, not deflect the recognition.

Then they took their list of words and made themselves an affirmation: 

I am a kind, peaceful passionate leader!  I am!

Next…they each read their affirmation out loud.  No comments, no words, 1 person at a time.  When everyone was finished we stood smiling in silence for a minute.  The energy level in the room just kept rising. 

Our final comment was for each person to invest the time in them-selves to get their need for recognition met constructively. ALWAYS.

Staff Meeting Week

This is staff meeting week at Intercon Messaging.  At our morning huddle on Monday we decided the best use of our two staff meetings was to help our people stop beating themselves up.  People beat themselves up with the chatter in their head about…I should have, I should not have…well I’m just not that…I’m just not this…  I’ve read 4 books in the last two weeks, relevant to this topic.

  1. ‘10 Mindful Minutes’ by Goldie Hawn
  2. ‘Change Your Questions Change Your Life, 10 Powerful Tools for Life and Work’ by Marilee Adams
  3. ‘Do The Work’ by Steven Pressfield
  4. 'Choosing a Good Road, High School Success' by Jonathan Brennan

Both of our staff meetings have the same agenda and we work hard to duplicate the information for both meetings.

To help us dispute the destructive chatter in our heads we each created an affirmation.  The process we use is to have each person sit at the front of the room on a stool while the rest of the team shouts out kind words about them.  We write a whole flip chart page of words for each person.  While they are at the front they are encouraged to simply smile and say Thank You…and “receive the recognition”. When everybody has a list we ask them to take five minutes of reflection time, and write a positive affirmation using this format:  I am a ______ _________ _________ person/ mother/ friend/ partner/ leader/ etc. 

Certainly, each of the books, talks about our negative inner chatter.  In the book Do the Work, Steven Pressfield suggests ““Our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.”  THE ENEMY IS RESISTANCE  “The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self justifications and a million reasons why we can’t/ shouldn’t/ won’t do what we know we need to do.””  He says “DO THE WORK, START BEFORE YOU ARE READY.”  He calls the negative chatter our dragon brain, Goldie Hawn calls it our guard dog, and both Jonathan and Marilee call it the Judger.

I am also working through John Kehoe’s Mind Powers CD training set. He says dispute your negative chatter with several minutes of your positive affirmation until you effectively change your mind.

The never ending challenge is to quiet the negative chatter and listen to the quiet inner knowing within, which Steven calls The Knight, Marilee and Jonathan call the Learner and Goldie calls the Wise Old Owl.

Is this stuff easy?…NO!   

Once everyone has an affirmation, we share them. First we agree on the order each person will speak and make sure that everyone is aware that no other conversation is permitted.  This is an emotionally moving exercise.

A few years ago we recruited 22 people (most of which were men) to our community and helped them get a class One Drivers License.  We did this exercise and as each person in the room read their affirmation I could feel the energy shifting.  I suspect, that for some of the participants this might have been the first time in their life that they were conscious of having a positive inner conversation.  It was a deeply emotional experience.