Anxiety is a liar - Feeding the truth, starving the lie
Anxiety is such a negative mindset, and if we’re going through a rough time or we spend long enough dwelling on the lies anxiety tells us, we can get in the habit of thinking in a negative mindset all the time. Sometimes we don’t even realise we are doing it and we tell ourselves stuff like “I’m not negative, I’m just a realist” and “It’s not negative, it’s just the truth”. We often think that anticipating bad things protects us from them, and by identifying them we can stop them from ever happening or prepare ourselves for them: but that is simply not true. Anticipating bad things make us miserable all the time; no time is spent being happy because our “realist” thinking will always tell us the potential bad in everything… But there is also a potential good in everything. So how do we choose to see the good?
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 black and 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 white and 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”.
Some versions of this story actually end by saying that both wolves win, highlighting that the emotions and instincts that come with the black wolf aren’t inherently bad - they have their purpose so we shouldn’t ignore them but rather learn how to get our white wolf and black wolf to live in harmony. However, for this particular blog, and because anxiety can often lead to you mostly feeding your black wolf, I want to focus on how we feed our white wolf.
When I’m anxious it can be really hard to choose the positive thoughts and actions, and feed my white wolf. However, when I get into the habit of doing this, when I feel capable - it becomes easier, even when I’m anxious. For example, I’m able to think that my day is going to be a good one, rather than dwelling on how many things I need to get done and what I’d rather be doing… I also find that I have enough strength to resist the temptation to put myself down when I’m with others and instead choose to believe that I am enough. When I practise this, I find that I can empower myself to choose, and this helps me to catch those negative thoughts that often trigger anxiety - before they even have a chance to form.
Negative thinking can really shrink our mindsets and increase fatigue, whereas positive thinking has been proven to widen our ability to think, increase our happiness, harness hope, reduce stress, boost our confidence, improve health and many other things. Feeding my white wolf isn’t just about what I choose to think though: It’s about what I choose to say, what I choose to read and what I choose to listen to. What will you choose?