The One That You Feed — Facilitating Transformation Through Positive Regard.

By Skye Dowell

When I was a teenager, I was sent to a lock-down facility for teens with drug, alcohol, and behavioral problems. The program employed tactics designed to break a person down so that they might hit a “bottom” and be motivated to change. It was a very emotionally and psychologically violent atmosphere, in which I suffered greatly. I was there for 6 years, and I am still recovering from the experience over 10 years later.

The best way I have heard to describe the impact of this time in my life involves a well-known story about two wolves fighting: a negative wolf and a positive wolf. A boy observing the wolves’ struggle turns to his grandfather and asks “which one wins?” The grandfather replies, “the one that you feed”. During this time in my life, the “negative wolf” was very well fed.

It is for this reason that I highly value the community and mission at WCS. At Windhorse, I found an environment where I felt intrinsically safe. We all have an internal script that shows up when we enter into relationship with another person, telling them how to treat and engage with us. It takes a significant amount of personal work and awareness to not blindly follow another’s script, particularly if that person has internalized a negative self-outlook. Finding people who can see beyond our external maladjusted behaviors to the core of health and sanity beneath, and who can then reflect that wholeness back to us, is foundational to the healing process.

Windhorse Community Services aims to produce this type of restorative community by employing contemplative principles and practices. The team format and mindfulness approach promote accountability and self-awareness, acting as a safeguard against projecting unexamined personal issues onto a client. Even more crucially, the Windhorse model is based on the principle that all people are fundamentally sane, and that no matter how extreme a state a person is in, they always hold the inner potential of transforming dysfunction into a unique, individualized version of health.

As a Team Counselor, I get the opportunity to practice the art of presence in relationship. Learning to accept and love another person unconditionally, exactly where they are, helps me to adopt an increasingly positive self-regard. Working for Windhorse has helped to nourish the “positive wolf” inside of me. I feel deep gratitude to have come full circle and to now take part in a therapeutic process that I believe is a force for good in the world.