So here we are. COVID-19 has struck 2020 with a global pandemic. Counts of the virus rise daily, hospitals have overflowed, and people are not allowed to leave their houses. Some have lost their incomes, businesses, or jobs and everyone has lost their old norms. It’s now Day 17 of quarantine (…or is it? I’ve lost count…) and it’s just been extended another thirty days. We really don’t have a clear end in sight and can’t do anything about it. Or can we….
This strange moment in time reminds me of one of my favorite stories that resonated with me and has stayed with me for years. (I shared this story virtually via my IGTV feed – so check that out if you prefer that version of storytelling.)
One evening, an elderly Cherokee grandfather sat down to tell his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “There is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is an evil wolf, filled with anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is a good wolf. That wolf is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. And every day, the two wolves fight – every single day the battle between the good wolf and the evil wolf persists.”
The grandson thought about this for a minute then looked to his grandfather filled with concern and asked, “Tell me! I need to know right now. Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee looked down to his grandson and simply replied, “The one you feed.”
The one you feed.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve caught myself feeding the Bad Wolf more than I would like to admit – especially as of late. I think we can agree that it’s easier to feed the Bad Wolf. Take COVID. We can choose to go to the store, hoard all of the groceries and toilet paper (I just know we are going to look back in time and face-palm about that one). We can choose to drown in worry and self-pity about the economy and our jobs, or resent not being able to finish the school year in the normal setting, or be angry that we can’t go to our normal social establishments. We can feel guilty about not doing every at-home workout video posted or feel sorry that we aren’t being as productive as we think we should be.
It’s exhausting to exert that kind of energy on things we cannot change. There’s a slippery slope between coming to terms with a new reality and being consumed with Bad Wolf feelings that result in falling down a rabbit hole of misery, finding it very difficult to remove yourself.
We cannot change what has already been done. We could dwell on the decisions that were made or weren’t made – or we can shift our energy to the Good Wolf.
We can appreciate our health. We can appreciate the comradery we have with each other, as we are all in this together. We can act with compassion and lend our neighbor a roll of toilet paper. We can continue with hope, and trust that for every unforeseen problem is an unforeseen solution. We can appreciate the innovation and creativity that challenge us as we establish a new normal. We have to encompass our humanness and let go of control – it is not our job to always understand, but to trust. We can use this time to love people – I personally have been loving all of the extra time to call and FaceTime friends I haven’t talked to in years!
Due to businesses temporarily closing down, I currently do not have the ability to work. I was stricken with the initial worry of how I’m going to pay my bills and continue living. I was jealous of paychecks others still had and I felt sorry for myself. Honestly, I was filled with a moment of panic. The Bad Wolf was barking loudly. But I chose to take a deep breath and trust God on this one. I shifted my energy from lack and fear to appreciation. I appreciate my health – and my family’s health! I appreciate that my situation will be temporary. I appreciate that I get to focus on what “I haven’t had time for” in the last few years.
The other morning, I sat on the balcony with my dog and enjoyed my coffee. It was an absolutely beautiful day. Had I been caught up in the normal grind and hustle, I would have missed that. We are complex beings – and we often overcomplicate things. Subconsciously, we can even want things to be difficult and drive from the need to overcome. Let’s just take a breath and allow ourselves to slow down. Back to basics. Back to simple. Simple can be so beautiful – let’s not miss it.
Feed the Good Wolf. I promise it will make the struggle more bearable at the very least. Shift your energy from focusing on the bad and try to find the light. If you can’t see any light yet, shift your energy into imagining all possibilities for the light to come through. Focus on how you will feel when the light actually does come. When we shift our energy into feeding the Good Wolf, we open ourselves up to receiving endless unforeseen solutions.
How do we do this? Begin by analyzing your time and your actions to see which wolf you are feeding. If you catch yourself feeding the Bad Wolf, see what small actions you can take to shift your energy into feeding the Good Wolf.
Consumed by reading the reports and news and feeling worried and hopeless? (Bad Wolf.) Stay informed, but if you find yourself worrying, maybe take a small break from the media, and just focus on how you can contribute to the solution – practice safe social distancing and stay home as much as you can. Meditate, pray, or find comfort in talking to people who will lift you up and not fuel your fears. (Good Wolf.)
Sitting around bored with nothing to do, waiting for this to be over? (Bad Wolf.) Call an old friend, organize something, watch Tiger King so all of the memes make sense, or play more with a pet. (Good Wolf.) Get creative! One thing on my list: mail hand-written cards to people!
Missing your old workout spots and snacking in defiance? (Bad Wolf – but can we talk about the snack battle, y’all? It’s so real.) Did you know that your body will acclimate to your normal workout routine and you won’t get the same benefits as when you started? Use this as an opportunity to shock your body and try something new. There are so many local workouts being live-streamed right now! Worried about looking stupid?….in your living room…by yourself. (I’m just going to leave that there.) This is the perfect time to try new things! If you are missing the social aspect, FaceTime or Zoom your workout friends and do it together. Bonus: If you love the social part about working out, think of how many cool new people you will meet after this is all over when you check out the new spot you live-streamed! (Good Wolf.)
Realize where you are placing your energy. Shift your energy. Control your energy. It is yours and you can do whatever you want with it. When I began to practice catching myself feeding the Bad Wolf and shifting my energy into feeding the Good Wolf, I was amazed to see the chain reaction. It was hard at first, y’all! And it still is – some days, it’s really hard to feed the Good Wolf. But amazing things happen when we do. I promise you that.
When did you recently catch yourself feeding the Bad Wolf? How did it make you feel in the end?
How can you shift your energy into feeding the Good Wolf if this happens again?
What’s one thing you haven’t made time for that is important to you that you have time to start now? What’s stopping you?
Think of a situation in your past that was a very difficult moment for you, where you saw no answers, had no outlet, no light at the end of the tunnel. What did you do? How did you come out of it and get to this stronger version of yourself today?
We got this, y’all. We will overcome this. Feed the Good Wolf now and take this mindset into the future when we come out of the stronger and more united than ever.