The One You Feed Podcast & 17 suggestions for coping with difficult emotions
(but you only have to choose one!)
Do you know the story of the 2 wolves? As Eric Zimmer, the host of The One You Feed, explains:
A grandfather is talking with her grandson.
The grandfather says, “In life, there are two wolves inside of us which are always at battle.
One is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, and love. The other is a bad wolf which represents things like greed, hatred, and fear”.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”
I love that parable – it makes me draw breath every time I hear it! And I’ve heard it many time because Eric reads it to each of his guests at the beginning of the interview and then asks the guest what the parable means for them in their life and in the work they do.
This really is a tremendous podcast. Listeners have called the show “life-saving” and the “best antidote to feeling bad I’ve ever heard”. At 24, Eric was a heroin addict, living in the back of a van and facing long jail sentences. But, thankfully, he began a journey of recovery. Now decades on, he’s the host of a “life-changing” podcast that’s had 13 million downloads. How did such a transition come about?
A lot is revealed about Eric’s journey during 330+ interviews with amazing guests and with so many episodes it’s hard to choose a favourite. Especially as every episode I’ve listened to so far is sympatico with what I believe is essential to understand if you are to have a successful separation/divorce and co-parenting: the power of your thoughts and actions to move you in the right direction.
With so many episodes, it was so difficult to recommend just one. I eventually settled on an episode from April as it has so many practical suggestions to help people living in close quarters during this pandemic. And the practical suggestions are just as helpful for many moments of separation and divorce.
Special Episode: Tips for Living in Close Quarters, 21 April 2020
Due to Covid-19, so many people find themselves at home and wresting with difficult emotions – annoyance, frustrations, irritation (and feeling bad about being annoyed, frustrated and irritated). So Eric invited 5 guests to share some suggestions with how to deal with emotions more skilfully.
Here are their 17 practical suggestions of what you can do when you notice your difficult feelings rising.
Susan Piver, mediation teacher and author of the wonderful book, “Wisdom of the Broken Hearted”
- Move your attention to your feet and feel your feet on the ground. This may seem simple but it works. Try it!
- Turn your attention to what you are feeling in your body. It may not feel good at first, but feeling it separately from the story can introduce some space. And that space, the space between stimulus and response, can be crucial when dealing with difficult emotions like anger.
- Be kind, let yourself off the hook when you mess up and apologise. I love the way Susan expresses an apology...”I’m here, I love you, I don’t want it to be this way, I want to be connected”... I mean, who could stay mad after hearing those words?
Lodro Rinzler, teacher, columnist and author of “Walk like a Buddha” and one of my favourite book titles, “The Buddha Walks into a Bar”
- Take 3 deep breaths over, say, 30 or 60 seconds. One of the reasons this works is if you're focusing on your breathing it’s hard to focus on the story behind the emotions.
- And, at some point ask yourself gently... is what I’m doing and thinking helpful?
Rosalind Wiseman, teacher and author of “Queen Bees and Wannabes”, a perennial favourite of many a mother (and a book I wish had been around when I was a teenager!)
- Acknowledge that you are in a hard situation – and part of this acknowledgment is that people we love can still get on our nerves!
- Next time you're going to have a talk with your child (or partner) and you anticipate that it could get bumpy, try and conjure a fond memory, a positive memory so that you bring that feeling with you rather than bringing negativity.
- Have and plan for family meetings - asking yourself what do you want to accomplish and let each person talk, in one minute turns.
- How you listen is crucial. A lot of people don’t listen to what the other person is saying because they’re so focused on getting them to see it their way. So, try to remember these wise words “listening is being prepared to be changed by what you hear”.
Ralph De La Rosa, psychotherapist and author of “The Monkey is the Messenger”
- We often know when a situation is likely to arise so, it helps to prepare.
- If we know we're going to face these situations, we can front load our day with some self-care, maybe a little extra mediation or extra breath work;
- When the emotion rises, name it, whatever it is – sadness, frustration, irritation – as naming an emotion changes the way our brain engages with the emotional experience and moves our brain into problem-solving mode.
- While you have to take ownership of your own emotions, you don’t have to accept the behaviour and feelings of others. Can you be like buddha, in the story Ralph tells, and refuse what is being offered?
- Befriend the emotion. As others have suggested, breath, feel it, name it - which opens a doorway to be curious about why you feel that way.
Dr Rick Hansen – the ever-generous podcast guest and co-host of The Being Well Podcast
- He suggests using a phrase that recognises that those you are living with are going through the same experience, that is, that we're in the same boat. The phrase is “like me... you...” For example,” like me, you are worried”, “like me, you miss your friends”, “like me, you get irritated”. This compassion, this common humanity and shared kinship can release oxytocin, calming us.
- Look at the big picture (literally – move your eyes to look at the horizon, the sky, out the window) and take a breath or three.
- When when we start to feel bad - stressed, irritable, pressured – take 3 slow breaths. With each breach focus on the internal sensations of your body - feel the air coming in, feel your chest rise and fall, feel your diaphragm move. You should notice the benefits within half a minute.
So, my suggestion? Pick one of these tips and give it a try, so next time when you feel the difficult emotions, you can stave off the bad wolf. And don’t forget, be kind to yourself and remember practice makes perfect!
You can find all of the most up to date crisis help & support resources that Eric is making available at www.oneyoufeed.net/help