RAF Alconbury, England --
The Cherokee Proverb regarding the ‘Battle Between Two Wolves’ inside all of us has been a long-time favorite and truly resonates with me. The proverb explores the struggle between opposing elements within us: the ‘Good Wolf’ which represents qualities like kindness, love, humility, and truth and the ‘Bad Wolf’ who represents greed, anger, arrogance, and dishonesty. The idea is to ask and answer the question: “Which wolf wins?” The proverb indicates “the one you feed.”
For me personally, I use this as a daily reminder to ask myself, “Which wolf wins today?” I remember that I will have multiple choice points each day about where to spend my energy. We all have a choice. In the midst of life circumstances, happiness and positivity are choices. This is similar to the idea of whether you see the glass half-full or half-empty. If you reflect for a moment and feel that your glass is half-full, ask yourself if your thoughts, words and actions are truly in sync with your answer.
Both the Cherokee proverb and glass analogy help remind us that we build and strengthen resilience in ourselves and our community through our focus and perspective. Life happens. Obstacles appear. Challenges occur. People disappoint. Although the bad wolf may appear or the glass may seem half-empty, the ability to bounce back and experience growth comes down to acceptance. This doesn’t suggest we must like or agree with a situation, it means we will allow it, and then either take appropriate action to change it, or let it pass and move on. The point is that every person has to do their own work and consistently take responsibility for the energy they bring to the game and the space they hold at the table.
Let me share a personal challenge that has been a source of growth. I sometimes struggle to remain outwardly positive amongst negative situations or behavior that does not respect boundaries. I could easily feed the ‘Bad Wolf’ or empty my glass. However, the utilization of resiliency tools and constructive focus on positive growth have strengthened my confidence and helped me enforce healthy boundaries, which creates a deepened sense of inner peace. I continue to experience marked improvement in these areas as I navigate each day. Instead of resistance, I use frustrating situations as a trigger to relax and release. To become present, to honor each moment, and then take any necessary action or let it pass. My general philosophy is to do the next right thing in front of me with the knowledge and resources at my disposal, from a perspective of optimism and adaptability.
For me, it is not about which wolf wins. My deliberate objective is to balance both wolves. Instead of trying to suppress or destroy one wolf, the ideal situation is to help them coexist in harmony and with stability. I find both wolves to be helpful in my life. What about my glass? Half-full or -empty? Again, a non-standard answer; my glass is overflowing. The remarkable thing about resilience is that the glass is refillable! On most days, I successfully choose happiness and joy amidst potential chaos because the life I live is reflective of the moments I experience.
My challenge to you – find your truth. Make peace with the wolves inside you. Take another look at your glass. Discover the grit within yourself. Build an encouraging community around yourself to support becoming the best version of you….and take that version wherever you go.
For a variety of tools to connect, build and strengthen relationships and foster resilience through deliberately and purposefully developing balance in life, visit the USAFE-AFAFRICA Operation GRIT website: https://www.usafe.af.mil/GRIT.