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Which Wolf Do You Choose to Feed?

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

On a summer evening, a Cherokee grandfather told a story about the everlasting inner conflict within people to his grandson. He said, “My son, within all of us there rages a battle between two wolves. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is 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 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 the words of his grandfather for a while and then asked: “Which wolf will win?” The wise Cherokee answered: “The one you decide to feed.”

If you think about your “energy,” you probably think about your day-to-day energy level. Is it rather high or low, do you feel like an eager beaver or do you experience a blue Monday?

We can take care of our psychical energy level by getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, doing sports, or enjoying a well-deserved holiday.

However, even with the right lifestyle, a draining energy game can be at play. Signals like lethargy, anxiety, anger or restlessness show that there is an unhealthy energy dynamic active within ourselves. In the everyday rat race of work, family, friends, and hobbies, we tend to neglect and rationalize them.

When we disregard our signals, we allow toxic energies to creep into our minds and bodies. We trigger toxic energy by allowing toxic thoughts, emotions, and intentions to drain us.

Let’s demonstrate with this example:

  • A toxic manager stacks you up with an enormous workload, even though he knows that you have a packed agenda. You accept it because you can’t say no. Being a perfectionist; you feel an adrenaline rush to get everything done and deliver with quality in time. Stress is omnipresent, physically but also mentally.  There is an internal dialogue going on. Why did I not say "No?" How could he give me that extra work? He is taking advantage of my goodwill. You feel mad, mad at yourself and mad at your manager. This toxic thought pattern brings you toxic emotions and has an exponential impact on your overall stress level, performance, confidence, and motivation. 

In this example, you permit internal (your thoughts) and external (the intentions of your boss) toxic energy to absorb all the positive energy out of you.

You have fed the angry wolf.

How can we break free from a toxic cycle like the one above? We truly believe in the power of Energy Leadership, a concept of Bruce D. Schneider.

1. Be aware of toxic feelings, thought patterns and situations that cause them

We are a leader in all aspects of our lives. Allow yourself to take a step back and analyze your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. What is your part in this toxic pattern? Which situations/people reinforce toxic signals? Why do you allow toxic energy to drain you?

2. Take leadership over your internal energy sources

Challenge yourself to change the way you look at situations. Your thoughts trigger your emotions and actions. Start with something simple: think of something you have hated for years, Brussels sprouts, for example in my case. Although I hadn't eaten them since I was a kid, my stomach contracted each time I thought of them. I consciously changed the way I looked at them: "Brussels sprouts could actually be delicious"! Instead of being nauseous, I easily became curious to try them again. When positively changing the way you look at things and changing your internal dialogue, you can shift your internal energy from catabolic (destructive) to anabolic (constructive).

3. Don't allow stress to undermine you if it's unnecessary

We usually allow stress more than for our good. Some situations, reactions, or people can easily trigger our stress-buttons. Once these stress-buttons are pushed, we immediately fall into the stress trap where toxic energy flows. We feel then frustrated, annoyed, angry or uncertain and can have unnecessary and negative stress reactions. By being aware of your stress-buttons, your pitfalls, you can increase your stress-resistance and teach yourself how to shift your reaction to them.

Just like in the wise Cherokee’s story, we are in the driver’s seat to decide which energy we would like to prevail over the other. Do we need to avoid toxic energy at all costs? No, toxic emotions are a powerful messenger. They warn you about a possible danger or misalignment to what is important to you. It’s an art, however, to not step in their roller coaster but to embrace them as messengers, listen to them and see them as an opportunity for growth.


Do you want to read more on how to detox your life from toxic energy, discover Marjan Decat's debut book "Detox Je Leven".

We can help you explore, embrace and transform your internal game of energy with executive coaching. Read more.

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