I always tell people that the only difference between me and a person with multiple personality disorder, is that all my personalities communicate and are all named Colleen. It’s just unfortunate that we all get punished when one of the Colleens does something stupid - but it’s great when we all get to benefit from one of us doing something kind, brilliant or wise.
It reminds me of the native american legend/parable about “the wolf you feed:
One winter’s evening whilst gathered round a blazing camp fire, an old Sioux Indian chief told his grandson about the inner struggle that goes on inside people.
“You see” said the old man, “this inner struggle is like two wolves fighting each other. One is evil, full of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, deceit, false pride, superiority, and ego”.
“The other one,” he continued, poking the fire with a stick so that the fire crackled, sending the flames clawing at the night sky, “is good, full of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith”.
The grandson pondered his grandfather’s words and then asked, “So which wolf wins, grandfather?”
“Well”, said the wise old chief, “The one you feed!”
I’d like to think that if I have a totem animal it would be the wolf (although it’s probably a fat golden retriever), but regardless…
I have to be conscious of which wolf (or which Colleen) I’m feeding, and how I’m feeding her (them), and not just symbolically but literally. Do I want to feed Colleen (literal and mataphoric) crap and make sick Colleen sicker, or do I want to make healthy and strong Colleen healthier and stronger (physically and metaphorically).
Apathy and other negative states makes it easier too feed on junk. Not just junk food for the body, but junk food for the mind. Creating a negative mental/emotional environment by bitching, whining, and all-around pessimisim is so much easier (it often seems) than creating a positive environment with creativity, industriousness, and optimism. The “default” setting can easily become a slowly (or not so slowly) descending spiral of negativity.
But we do have the power to change the direction of the spiral, and it doesn’t take a dramatic conversion experience. We don’t have to become a different person, or change our outlook entirely, a small change can make dramatic change.
If pessimism is your natural state, you wil not become an optimist overnight (and possible never), but you do have to start with a glimmer of hope. “There’s a chance that life doesn’t have to suck entirely as much as it does now,” may be as far as you can push yourself in the positive direction. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a start. And afterall, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.