Your Best Moment

Which Dog Will You Feed?

There is a battle going on in every single one of us.

An old Cherokee legend has it that a grandfather was 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 dogs. Dog 1 is evil.  He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

Dog 2 is good.  He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, Dog1Dog2compassion, and faith.  The same fight is going on inside of you, and every other person.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which dog will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
(Story of two dogs courtesy of FirstPeople.Us)

There is a constant daily influx of thoughts to each one of us about our circumstances and our self-worth.  Dog 1 is telling us, “You can’t do this.  You will fail.  No one cares what you have to offer.  You can’t make a difference.”   Dog 2 is faithfully countering those thoughts with positivity, saying, “You can do this.  You have something to offer.  You will make a difference.  You matter.”

Most of us subscribe to the voice of Dog 1 without even realizing it.  This is especially true under pressure.  We have come to the false belief that if we acknowledge failure as a potential and probable outcome, it will lessen the blow if we do not reach our goals.

However, just like a vehicle will advance in the direction the driver is looking, we influence our progress in life by the voices to which we choose to listen. Listening to Dog 1 leads easily to failure, while cultivating the voice of Dog 2 inevitably leads to success.

Next time you are faced with pressure and negative thinking, here are three tips to help you feed Dog #2.

 1.     Observe yourself.  We often do not realize Dog 1 is influencing us until we are swept away in a whirlwind of self-doubt.  By noticing what we are feeling and thinking in a pressure situation, we can begin to learn our mind and body’s signals that we are heading in the wrong direction.  If your stomach is tightening, take a deep breath.  If you are contributing to the negative mental self-talk, pause and take a step back.  Replace those thoughts with confident and positive thoughts from the voice of Dog 2.

2.     Let it come to you.  In any pressure situation, a performance, a speech, a test, it only harms the outcome if we rush ahead of ourselves with worry and negativity.  Negative thoughts are usually based on some conception of possible failure, which means we are jumping to conclusions about possible outcomes.  Living in the future will always cause you to falter in the present. It is the difference between a musician’s fingers fumbling and rushing ahead to the next notes while the mind races, versus the musician simply allowing the notes to come under his or her fingers as the music tells the story.

 3.     You can’t care if you succeed or fail.  What?  I know, it seems counterintuitive when we are discussing successful performance in life.  But if your worth, or even your future plans, hang on the outcome of a pressure-filled situation, you will have unintentionally given the edge to Dog 1.  The negative self-talk will take over.  However, if you are able to go into every performance and tough life situation to give it your all regardless of the outcome, then you will grow your success record and leave failure in the dust.  There is something powerful about knowing yourself, staying in the moment, and fearlessly delivering your very best.  It not only gets the job done, it builds character and a strong foundation for future success.

What tips would you add to this list that help you focus on and feed Dog #2?

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10 Responses

  1. You are so right. Your post makes me think of the phrase that helps me often: “Be here now”. One of my biggest breakthroughs has been realizing that just being in the present moment and giving it my best is enough. It is what God designed us to do. Love it.

    • Elyssa Smith Elyssa Smith says:

      Staying in the moment is definitely top priority when it comes to pressure situations. Love that saying “Be here now.” Thanks for the comment!

  2. Caity T says:

    Your last point reminds me of Kiplings “If”- “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same”. I have always loved that line. 🙂

  3. Benay Blume says:

    Awesome, Elyssa! Look forward to reading more and send others to read also. (like a certain aspiring soccer player I know….) Beijos!

    • Elyssa says:

      Thanks, Benay! I think that soccer player is awesome! Anything I can do to help him stay on top of his mental game, I’m up for it!

  4. Sarah says:

    Such a pertinent story! The tough part for me is that trying to feed Dog 2 becomes yet another way of feeding Dog 1, i.e. “I’m nurturing the wrong parts of myself! I’m so negative! Why can’t I get past these thoughts/fears/failures?” Of course, the antidote is no. 3 on your list, and I really ought to listen more often: disengaging your identity and self-worth from outcomes and instead hitching them to effort is key. I shall certainly try to do this more often. Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂

    • Elyssa Smith Elyssa Smith says:

      Sarah, You are welcome! I can completely relate to having it turn on you by realizing how negative you are being – and “that’s bad”! But you are right. There is a perspective shift where we become more focused on the current moment, and less focused on the results. Then we can really soar! Thank you for your comment!

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