The Legend of The Two Wolves

Hi there!

Have you ever read the Cherokee legend of the two wolves? It seems to be doing the rounds again and recently popped back up on my FaceBook feed:

An elder brave tells his grandson about life.

“Grandson,” he says, “Within all of us there is a battle of two wolves.”

“One is evil. He is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other wolf 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 of you, and inside every other person too,” explained the wise Cherokee.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

Very dualistic, very black and white, but also ‘sweet’ I thought, and moved on. Only, I couldn’t move on. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I didn’t know why. So I went back and read it again. It still had a hold. I turned to my trusted journal to try and bash it out, like I do!

Hmmm! I wrote a list of all the not so desirable qualities mentioned in the story and decided to see how many of those ‘evil’ things I gave time to in my life. It turned out to be quite a lot. Infact, ALL of them! Oh dear (why exactly had I started this exercise?).

So I moved swiftly to the ‘other side’ to hopefully counter-balance my apparent evilness. Only I was shocked to find that this list wasn’t nearly as full as I thought it would be! Nowhere near in fact! There on the page lay the apparent answer to the wolf I fed the most. And it wasn’t the one I was expecting (not happy!).

I tossed the list aside (in anger) annoyed at myself for even starting it in the first place (regret), and sad that the outcome hadn’t been more desirable (sorrow, arrogance, self-pity…..).

It was blatantly clear I needed to give a lot more time than I had been to the ‘good’ stuff. But how?  I grabbed the journal back, started at the top of the list, and wrote, ‘How can I bring more joy in my life?’ and waited for the answer…..

Sit quietly.

Breathe deeply.

Relax.

Think about the things that have brought you joy.

Focus on how that feels. Rest for a while in that feeling.

Now, what can you do to bring more joy into your life?

That worked! My mood definitely began to shift and very interesting things came out onto the page. So I moved on to ‘peace’. The interesting thing is, the answer was pretty much the same for each: sit quietly, breathe deeply, relax, think about the times when you’ve felt (insert word)……..

I’m not quite so horrid after all! But it was still obvious I needed to practice sooooo much more of the good stuff and waaaaay less of the bad.

Having said that, I’m naturally not an ‘it’s either black or white’ kind of person….more a ‘flowery in between’ type. So I naturally wanted to somehow meet in the middle. If I could learn to be kinder to my faults, rather than take a sledge-hammer to them, (which only left me feeling guilty and yuck anyway), then perhaps I’d learn to be more compassionate to myself. And if I could learn to be more compassionate to myself, then maybe I could be more understanding of other people’s weaknesses (one can but hope!).

It’s certainly been true thus far that the more intolerant I am of my own faults and failings, the more intolerant I am of other people’s.

So perhaps if I can see the not so desirable stuff as my teaching aids whenever they arise, I can actually learn to get to a place of balance somewhere between my weakness and my goodness (preferably more towards the goodness eventually!). And if I can accomplish that, then maybe my relationships will flourish (I’ll let you know!).

In the meantime, let me ask you the inevitable question:

Which wolf do you feed most my friend?

xx

Write A Letter

This was something I posted on my personal Facebook page recently. I received so many messages afterwards so I thought it would be good to add it here too, especially as I’ve found a (cheaper) way to continue the blog. Please do ignore if you’ve already read it!

WRITE A LETTER!

Lovely friends – I’m not wishing to seem like everything’s all doom and gloom here at the moment, and I’m certainly not seeking your sympathy, but I did just want to share this in the hope that it may help someone else.

A good friend of ours very, very sadly lost her battle with cancer and died in the UK at the end of April. I found it very hard to comprehend. She seemed to be doing so well. It became even harder for me on the day of her funeral. I was devastated not to be there and say a final goodbye. It’s been tormenting me ever since. I was going to sleep thinking about her, waking up in the middle of the night thinking about her and thinking about her family and how they must be. I couldn’t let it go.

In the early hours of yesterday morning I finally sat up in bed and prayed for help to find some peace in this. Almost instantly I had a thought:

Write a letter!

Write a letter? To who?

To her!

So I did! I wasn’t really sure what to write, so I just started with ‘I can’t stop thinking about you’ and then it all came pouring out! I told her how I felt, how sorry I was we hadn’t seen each other for a while, the snippets of conversations, holidays, memories that came flashing through my mind. I promised I would be so much better at keeping in touch with her husband and three children, especially her youngest…my godson. I told her she’d never be forgotten. I said I looked forward to seeing her on the other side. I said goodbye.

When I stopped, I felt like something had been released. Let go of.

But it wasn’t finished yet. Another thought came:

How would she respond?

What?! I don’t know….

Write it down!

What?!

Write it down!

So I gave it a go! As my pen hovered over the page, I imagined her in a place of love and light and peace. Then I just started writing and what came out was, simply put, absolutely beautiful and so full of the most amazing love. (That bit is private!)

Friends, may I ask that if you’re ever in a place of anguish and not being able to talk to someone, (even if they’re alive), please remember to write them a letter. They won’t be physically seeing it but I promise it’ll help you enormously. I also promise you won’t regret it.

(I can help if you get stuck)

Bye for now

Yxx

Who Pushes Your Buttons?

Hi there!

I hope this finds you healthy and well my friend.

We’ve just celebrated our first American Thanksgiving with our very kind and hospitable neighbours and I have to say I loved it! It’s just like a British Christmas really, turkey ‘n all, but no presents. NO PRESENTS! Bliss! Just focusing on what we’re grateful for. The day after, however, brought ‘Black Friday’, where the malls are stuffed full of people buying, buying, buying. Consumerism at its worst/best! What a complete contrast to the day before (and my idea of hell!)  So, needless to say, I went nowhere near the malls, opting instead to stay at home to paint and draw (now to be known as ‘Black Ink Friday’ in my book!)

Anyway, there’s something that’s been brewing on my mind for a few weeks, so I thought I’d share it with you: it’s all about the people who push our buttons!

I don’t know how you view your public self but I think mine’s quite a happy, patient and (mostly) mature one yet my buttons still get pushed when I’m out there! In fact some people in life seem to be master button-pushers! They know exactly what to say (or not to say), do (or not to do) to transform us from calm, happy people into intolerant, impatient and, quite frankly, horrid ones!

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We know that the best button-pushers are usually the people closest to us…..our other halves, our kids, family, close friends, work colleagues…..people we see all the time (or have grown up with). But every now and then a complete stranger or someone we don’t know that well manages to push our buttons too (especially if they work for BT)!

So why is that? What are these so called bloomin’ buttons anyway? And why do they trigger such negative emotions?

I’ve been pondering on this lately because I recently had one of those nasty eruptions with someone I didn’t know that well, which really upset me. It upset me on a few levels: firstly, that I publicly lost my cool and I wasn’t able to control it. Secondly, my preference was normally NOT to react there and then but to take a deep breath, disengage and work through it in my journal at a later stage. That way I get to look at the bigger picture, prevent myself from upsetting anyone and avoid the inevitable counter-attack! And lastly, I’d really rather not be revealing that real and vulnerable side of me, at least without some prior notice, for all and sundry to see!

So what did I do? I went to my room, put a metaphorical spotlight on the whole episode and worked through it. I wanted to know what the story behind it was. Why? Because I know that if this kind of thing stays inside us, it does far more damage in the long run.

Mark Twain Quote

So it needs to be addressed. Whenever it comes up, for whatever reason, it really needs to be interrogated there and then. If we don’t work through it, ‘it’ would just ‘go back down’ and that would be like continually brushing dirt under the carpet. Eventually there’d be such a large accumulation to inevitably trip up over that we’d probably hurt ourselves! So we have a choice: either let it stay put knowing that it would keep rearing it’s ugly head at unwelcome times and potentially manifest into some sort of dis-ease, or work through it. The former is certainly the easiest route, but I prefer the latter!

If you don’t heed the messages from your body the first time they’re delivered, you’ll get hit with a bigger hammer the next time.  A delay or denial requires your body to speak louder and louder to get your attention. The purpose of emotions, regardless of what they are, is to help you feel and participate fully in your own life. Stop and experience them! Then change your behavior accordingly.

Dr Christiane Northrup

I personally believe, through my own experiences, that our bodies are so much more amazing than we believe they are. And when ‘something comes up’, whether it dulls us, drains us, makes us react unfavorably or ails us, then we really should listen! Our body is trying to tell us something. And we must have the curiosity to find out what!

Aristotle believed that everything happens for a reason, always. And that every experience in our lives was designed to shape us and reform us into the ultimate and greatest version of ourselves that we could ever imagine.

I’ve been working on this for most of my complicated, beautiful life…..and it’s still very much a work in progress…..but I do love it! Love it? Yup, love it! Don’t get me wrong – the process can be hard. Sometimes very hard. It takes courage. But the things that are released, recovered from and restored to make it so worth it in the end.

Having said all that, the most rewarding thing about all this for me started the moment I turned from looking inwards to looking outwards. I began wondering what other peoples’ stories were and how they got to the point they were at. Better still, in the midst of my curiosity, I discovered I was actually able to help people work through their own ‘stuff’ too.

Now this might sound strange but we should actually be grateful for all those button-pushers of ours out there! If it weren’t for them we may not be ‘challenged’ to work through our issues and we certainly wouldn’t be able to help others either. So let’s consider button-pushers as some of our greatest teachers!

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That’s it for now my friend. Do let me know if you there’s someone you think might be ‘stuck’ with any feeling, thought pattern or dis-ease in anyway! I’d love to help them work through it, wherever they are in the world! And if there’s anyone you think would like to read this blog…..please go ahead and pass it on:

www.naturallyyas.com

Bye for now! Until next time…..
Yx