There is a Cherokee legend about Two Wolves. I shared this story last week at a talk I gave at Erie High School to the XC team about the importance of self belief and a positive mental attitude for runners. The story went down really well, and I thought I would share it with a wider audience here.
Two wolves is a Cherokee legend that illustrates the most important conflict in our lives, the competition for attention between our positive and negative thoughts. I amended the story to match an athletic perspective:
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 negative – he is anger, regret, greed, arrogance, anxiety, nerves, self doubt, self pity, superiority, weakness, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is confidence, self belief, strength, speed, helping others, humility, joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, kindness, curiosity, benevolence, empathy, generosity, passion, 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.”
Our built in negative bias means we tend to focus more on negative thoughts than we do on positive ones. The great news is that you have also been given a gift – you have the choice about which wolf you feed. Your brain has no vested interest in whether you empower positive or negative thoughts, that is a choice that you have the power over. Your mind can be the single greatest obstacle to achieving your dreams and goals, effectively disempowering yourself when you focus on negative thoughts. Here are five key tips to help you focus on the positive wolf inside your mind, and to connect with the inevitable athlete that is inside you:
- Awareness – next time you have a negative thought or idea about yourself, ask the question, “What is this thought doing for me?” The answer is that it is disempowering you. Choose instead to let that thought go by, and replace it with a positive one about you as an athlete. You have the choice, every moment, in every day.
- Gratitude – if you are focused on gratitude there is no place for negative thoughts in your mind. Whatever is happening, you can always find something to be grateful for as an athlete.
- Celebrate moments – take moments throughout your day to celebrate the amazing athlete that you are, using only positive thoughts and perspectives
- Take action – move positively toward toward your dreams and goals. If you feel like you’re not making progress, expand your vision, think of how far you have come, and how much your fitness and ability as an athlete has improved over time. Recognizing that you’re moving forward is a foundational element to ensure you continue to take positive action steps.
- Smile – smiling is nature’s way of reminding you why you are here. When you smile, you are connected with joy, with strength, with belief, with love, with passion, with power, with all that is undeniably true about you. Smiling keeps you connected to your dreams, and helps you take the next step to a bright positive athletic future.
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Terry Chiplin, the visionary behind activacuity, provides positive coaching sessions for clients, working with athletes to enable a positive focus on their status and goals. He can also create personalized guided imagery sessions for clients, delivered as an mp3 audio file that you can listen to on multiple devices.activacuity provides a daily dose of positive guided imagery or visualization sessions. Find out what you can do when you make that mind-body connection – check out our subscription options here.
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