I LOVE metaphors – and so do my audiences. In my seminars, I use a giraffe and a lizard as metaphors for two different levels of thought that influence communication. I use a giraffe to represent rising above the mud of the moment, and speaking from an elevated perspective. I use a lizard to represent the reptilian, reactive self, that leads you to speak from a narrow perspective. They are useful reminders of the competing forces inside of us all that influence the way we choose our words and communicate
I call the giraffe Pippi and the lizard Izzie.
Do you ever want to be nice and nasty at the same time? Do you ever want to simultaneously affirm and affront someone? If so, do you wonder why, and perhaps even question your own sanity? Those are the two competing influences. There’s a story I read on the internet that uses a different metaphor to
The Two Wolves
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”
“One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
“The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
“This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
The children thought about it for a minute and then one child asked “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?”
The old Cherokee simply replied… “The one you feed.”
What Do You Feed?
Izzie represents the first wolf in the story. Pippi is the second wolf.
Izzie speaks in Poison Phrases. Pippi speaks in PowerPhrases.
Izzie will drop off when you stop feeding fear, anger, envy and the other emotions of the first wolf. Pippi will grow when you feed joy, peace, love, hope and the other emotions of the second wolf.
Every single thought you have feeds one mindset or another.
How Do You Feed Pippi?
The Cherokee elder was wise indeed to say that the part of yourself you feed grows stronger in your life. John Nash discovered that his life went from disaster to success when he went on a ‘mental diet’ and chose which perceptions to pay attention to. (A Beautiful Mind).You too can enhance Pippi and diminish Izzie by going on a “mental diet.”
To diminish Izzie’s role in your life,
1) Observe your Izzie thoughts rather than indulging or fighting them. The act of detached observation stimulates higher functioning.
2) Avoid Izzie conversations such as participating in gossip or negativity. Instead, be a detached observer of Izzie behavior in others. For example, if you watch reality shows, watch from a perspective of whether contestants are operating from an Izzie or Pippi mindset.
3) Become aware of Poison Phrases and avoid using them.
To feed Pippi,
1) Develop a series of statements to repeat to yourself and questions to ask yourself to elevate your thinking. For example, when going through an emotionally challenging time that triggered my Izzie, I would ask myself if I was safe in the moment. Of course, I always was, and this calmed me.
2) Listen to uplifting materials and read uplifting books.
3) Practice elevating the tone of conversations with PowerPhrases. It reinforces Pippi when your words elevate others.
Diminishing Izzie and feeding Pippi won’t mean that you will never want to be nice and nasty at the same time. It won’t mean that you won’t ever want to both affirm and affront someone. What it will mean is that when you do, you will be increasingly able to elevate your perspective and therefore your word choice. That will make all the difference, not just for those around you. It will make all the difference for you.