be the fox

There is old Irish proverb that states ‘Chan fhuair an madra rua teachdaire a riamh a b’fhearr ná é féin – The fox never found a better messenger than himself’. It is one that reminds how clever the fox is – to be so self-contained and present to his own needs but also wise to be the keeper and carrier of his own tale – no ‘off message’ slips here, only pure fox. It reminds us that we can do likewise.

From the mythmaking fables of Aesop to local folklore worldwide, the fox is the epitome of cleverness – cautious when required, shrewd by nature, resourceful, patient, precise, well thought out, even as an arch manipulator.  Genius status and accolades come when one learns to ‘out fox’ a quandary or complicated situation. The fox of political strategy, Niccolò Machiavelli, reminds his would-be Princes that ‘because the lion is defenceless against traps and a fox is defenceless against wolves. Therefore, one must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves.’

With anxiety there are many pitfalls and both real and imagined wolves. There are also many traps that we set for ourselves. So, we too must become something of a fox and develop some skills and knowhow to outwit the traps, whomever laid them and to discern the howl of the wind from the howl of an actual wolf. The exercises in this blog and my books will hone those skills – will guide shrewdness in place of overthinking and awareness over hypervigilance. The fox does not fret its day, it survives and thrives by its wits, its nature is to survive and thrive.

This proverb reminds us that its clever to carry our own message, to bear our own truth, to have self-reliance and like the fox keep our wits about us by taking charge – we are our own best messenger. We don’t have to carry the story of gloom and fearful anticipation; we can be a tale of joy and achievement yet.  

We are the stories we tell ourselves; we are only encumbered by the baggage we carry. The trick here is to drop the long story and shape a better narrative. Let the message you carry be fortitude not friction, triumph not fear, success not shame. Communicate to the world your true strengths not the fallacies of assumed assumptions. Be the fox … and when you need to be, be a lion.

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