13 January 2019
I recently celebrated a milestone birthday. One that assigns you a title that delineates what stage of life you are in… whether you like it or not. Before I knew it, I found my thinking once again spiraling down a path of a self-deprecating, energy-draining, negativity centered, worrisome stressed-filled plunge. Has that ever happened to you?
By the time my executive processing skills could regain control from my amygdala, I had spent way too much time in that depressing activity. Truth be told, it may have only been minutes however even that is way too much time for you and me to lose to such internal dialogue. Through a series of recent events, I had come face to face with the reality of my growing list of physical limitations. Even though my youngest son and I won our last doubles racquetball tournament, I was clear in understanding that I was becoming slower and that the power in my backhand shots had diminished. Our train of thought leads to what we believe and what we believe leads to how we interpret our world, and that interpretation determines what we do and what we do determines our destiny. When we allow negative, self-deprecating thoughts to linger, we allow them to flourish. When we allow them to flourish, we diminish the potential for an awesome destiny. Often credited to the Cherokee people, there is a saying that “Two wolfs fight within us. One is angry with envy, sorrow, self-pity, regret, arrogance, false pride, greed, and ego. The other is good and has joy, humility, peace, generosity, love, hope, compassion, and faith. The one that wins is the one we feed.” The challenge for you and I is to ensure we deliberately feed the one we want to win and starve the other.
A group of us have annually gathered for a ski day every January. Over the years, I have gone from skiing daily to once or twice per year. I found myself focusing on how the fact that I don’t ski as confidently as I used to… I am slower, colder and in need of retiring what was once one of my favorite racing skis. They require way more work than my body now wants to do in order to enjoy them. Wait! Stop! That is step number one in feeding the positive wolf. Recognize your negative self-talk as soon as possible and tell yourself to stop. When we become aware, we become empowered.
Drop! Step 2 is to drop that “train of thinking” by adopting different thoughts. This process is called “reframing.” I choose to reframe the situation my mind and think not about what I could no longer do but to think more about what I could do! Holy cow… by lunchtime, we had skied the equivalent of 11 miles, and my top speed was almost 40 MPH. I was basking in a remarkable view at the top of the mountain with friends I was only able to see a few times per year. The fellowship was great, the view was great, and there was a good chance that I could finish out the day without any ibuprofen. There was much in which to be grateful.
Step 3 is to Roll! Now roll with the enjoyment of what is now possible. It is said that if you cannot find joy in what you have, then getting more will not do it either. The rest of my day was spent looking for the reasons to be filled with joy instead of focusing on the inevitable restrictions that come from the unstoppable passing of time. Be diligent about noticing which wolf you are feeding and when it becomes necessary- Stop, Drop and Roll.
John F. Edwards is a motivational speaker, author, and talent development expert who works with people and organizations to Lean Forward into success and avoid failure in uncertain times. His latest book, Culture- Profit or Pain is now available on Amazon. You can learn more or book John as a speaker at www.eddyspeaks.com For motivational and inspiration, follow John on twitter @Edwards_Group