There is an old story, told around Cherokee campfires for generations, about two wolves locked in a great fight. One is anger, sorrow, hatred, self-pity, greed, arrogance, and sin; the other is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and faith. It is an epic fight that rages day by day inside the heart of every man.
The one that wins is the one you feed.
If you’re just joining us, “Think Right Thursdays” are about mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and we’ve been focusing on being an emotionally healthy person since the beginning of the year.
At the end of last year, I was mapping out where I want to go in 2016, and I wrote down the following statements:
“Self esteem is the reflection of self judgement. One of the best ways to raise self esteem is to make truly loving choices that lead to increased strength of mind body spirit.
I must :
- Accept that my all my choices are a reflection of what I truly love.
- Acknowledge that love is the most creative force in the universe and use it wisely.
- Choose to love myself more than external things.
- Treat myself well. This will accelerate the growth of my self esteem.
- Keep in mind that what I appreciate appreciates.
The more I believe in myself the more objectively I will be able to take the advice of authority figures.
When people are commenting on my results and say things like, ‘Wow! You have a lot of discipline,’ I will answer, ‘NO, I JUST MAKE LOVING CHOICES FOR MYSELF.’ Reinforcing my positive behavior will help me grow even more in personal strength with mind, body, and spirit.”
In the first week, we looked at the phrase: “Self-esteem is the reflection of self-judgement.”
- How do you view yourself? Do you like yourself, or do you wish you were somehow better?
That led us to the next phrase in Week 2: “One of the best ways to raise self-esteem is to make truly loving choices that lead to increased strength of mind, body, and spirit.”
- Life and death are in the power of the tongue. You are constantly talking to yourself about yourself. Why not say good things?
Then we dug into the third statement: “I must accept that my all my choices are a reflection of what I truly love.”
- No matter what you tell me with your words, how you spend your time, money, and energy is the true barometer of your values. Your choices tell you what you truly love.
Next, we looked at: “I must acknowledge that love is the most creative force in the universe and use it wisely.”
- Love is a superpower. You have it. Use it.
After that, we took apart the statement: “I must choose to love myself more than external things.”
- You have the right and the responsibility to prioritize your own well-being higher than the pursuit of trinkets, status, or fame.
Week #6 was a tough one for some folks: “I must treat myself well. This will accelerate the growth of my self-esteem.”
- Live your life like an important guest is coming – and that important guest is you.
In week 7, we learned about magnifying the good: “I must keep in mind that what I appreciate appreciates.”
- When you pay attention to the good in others and yourself, you get more of it.
Then we looked at the root of insubordination:“The more I believe in myself the more objectively I will be able to take the advice of authority figures.”
- Rebellion is rooted in ego, ego is rooted in self-protection, and self-protection is rooted in pain.
Last week, we studied the next statement: “When people are commenting on my results and say things like, ‘Wow! You have a lot of discipline,’ I will answer, ‘NO, I JUST MAKE LOVING CHOICES FOR MYSELF.’”
- Self-discipline is the natural fruit of loving yourself.
This is the final week of this series. I hope you’ve been enjoying it as much as I have. Today, let’s consider this concluding thought: “Reinforcing my positive behavior will help me grow even more in personal strength with mind, body, and spirit.”
Feeding the Right Wolf
Every day comes to us as a series of choices. You might say your future is testing you, to see which way you will go. Your actions determine your outcomes, so the choices you make today determine which choices will be available to you in your future. Someone who chooses to slack off in school is not going to have the same opportunities for college as someone who puts forth diligent effort, no matter what popular movies might try to tell us. Someone who abuses his body with food or chemicals is going to have a very different outcome from someone who makes healthy choices.
What you choose to focus on shapes your future.
There was a popular leadership teaching for many years that said to be successful, you must identify your strengths and weaknesses and focus your attention and effort on improving your weak areas. I understand that line of thinking – I certainly don’t want to be caught weak in an area. But I’ve seen too many people burn themselves out trying to shore up their weaknesses and neglecting their strengths:
- I’ve watched talented doctors get so mired in trying to improve their bookkeeping skills that they neglect their professional development in their specialty.
- Or the sales guy who tries so hard to be efficient with his administrative paperwork that he neglects his people skills.
We were never meant to work in isolation. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, hire in help to complement your weak areas so you can focus on being great at your strengths. In the same way, a good marriage allows both partners to be good at their strengths while covering each others’ weak areas.
One of my good friends is a fantastic musician. Put a guitar in his hands, or a keyboard, or even drums, and he will play like an animal. But he always wanted to be a singer. He took voice lessons, sang in the car, the shower, and the kitchen, but he never got his voice to sound the way he wanted it to. He put all his free time into crafting his voice, to the point that his other skills – his stronger skills – began to suffer from lack of practice. Eventually, he decided his biggest contribution was on the guitar, so he set aside all his other efforts and focused on being the best guitar player he possibly could. The decision served him well.
Focus on what you want to get good at, and let someone help you in your weak areas.
If time management is an issue for you, it’s easy to get frustrated when your day gets away from you. Ask me how I know. But rather than give up, get someone to help you organize your day a little better. Then, when you have a successful morning, celebrate with a good lunch. When you get through all your tasks in the time you allotted, give yourself a little reward (not a whole box of cookies, please!). You want to reward small victories because they:
- Prove that you can do what you thought you couldn’t do.
- Light a fire under you to do more.
- Reinforce the right behaviors.
Reward The Positive
Positive reinforcement is a much more powerful and effective motivator than punishing failure (although sometimes, it’s appropriate to do both). It reminds you that you are OK, that it is OK to grow and develop gradually, and that you are loved. Who would you rather spend time with: someone who constantly criticizes you for your weaknesses or someone who cheers you on when you shine in your strengths?
The answer is obvious.
So, why do you insist on feeding the critic inside your own head?
Reinforce your positive steps, growth, improvement, and skill development, and you will see continued, sustained growth in that area. As your confidence grows, you will find yourself less apt to give in to the behaviors that have bogged you down for so long. We all have behaviors that we gravitate to in private – things we would be ashamed to do in public, but give us some warped sense of comfort in our private moments. We tend to gravitate to those behaviors because they give us little dopamine bursts that make us feel better for the moment, but they don’t last. The gratification that comes from living out the behaviors we admire is satisfying and long-lasting. Healthy behaviors beget the good self-esteem that makes us tend to repeat those positive behaviors.
In short, feed the good wolf; starve the bad wolf.
What About You?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration of some basic healthy self-image concepts that we’ve been on since the beginning of the year. If you missed any of it, start here and follow me through this journey, step by step. If you’re like me, you will likely begin to recognize some things in your own thinking that need to change this year. I sure did. It’s been eye-opening for me as I’ve thought about each statement in some depth.
Thank you so much for being a part of our Fundamental Facebook Family. At Fundamental Health Solutions, we’re the wellness coaches that each you to move right, eat right, think right, and live right. Our goal is wellness for the whole person, not just one part.
I look forward to seeing your comments on Facebook.
“At the end of feelings is NOTHING. At the end of principles is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas
P.S. By the way, I bet there is someone in your circle of friends who would appreciate the things we talked about in this series. Would you take a few seconds to share this article with them on Facebook?