Befriending the Hounds of More

A satisfied Satisfaction Finder emailed me to ask about the Hounds of More.

You said in your book that the “Hounds of More are petrified you won’t be able to do what you most yearn to do in your life, so they keep you running in circles, chasing your—and their!—tails. Smart people who have big dreams have the loudest hounds of all. So do people who have been told they can “have it all” and even though they don’t believe it, they still wonder…”

Jen, you can’t possibly mean this. You can’t possibly mean that my perfectionism and endlessly comparing myself to others and worrying I won’t live up to my f–king potential has some good purpose. I want to do it so badly I rarely get it done (it being my novel and growing my business – I’m a decorator – and my house and my body and…)  Please say more!

I will, dear Maggie. First, I get it. It sounds really strange to think that these ravenous pushy wanting parts of ourselves may have our best interest in heart. Not possible.

Or is it?

Saying Hi to the Hounds

Here’s what Thich Nhat Hanh says in You Are Here:

You should talk to your depression or your anger just like you would a child. You embrace it tenderly with the energy of mindfulness and say, ‘Dear one, I know you are there, and I am going to take care of you,’ just as you would to your crying baby. There is no discrimination or dualism here, because compassion and love are  you, but anger is too. All three are organic in nature, so you don’t need to be afraid. You can transform them.”

In Buddhist psychology, the idea is to be with all the parts of ourselves, and all our emotions, even if we don’t like being with those parts of ourselves or those emotions. It’s not positive thinking or denying what are we are feeling, it’s being in relationship with them.

It’s like when the Mormons come to my door with their smiling fresh-faced convictions. I don’t want to answer the door and greet them kindly and explain that no, I’m not going to start believing in the golden plates and start wearing weird underwear. I don’t want them at my door. But I do open the door, and greet them and talk for a moment, and ask them if they need a glass of water and then politely go back to my day.

The Hounds of More deserve the same. They are scratching at the door. Say hello to them. It makes them feel a whole lot better. It ends the inner violence of being at war with a part of yourself. Yes, the Hounds of More are a part of you. Sorry if that freaks you out Maggie. It freaks me out sometimes, too.

After you’ve greeted them, you might ask, if you feel like it, “What are you so hungry for?”  I let my Hounds answer through my non-dominant hand, which seems to let me tap into their yearnings more authentically.

And what do they always want? For me to express my creative truth, for me to set aside time to write and express myself, for me to dig deep and true and write and speak and teach about what most matters to me.

And there is a caveat.

Isn’t there always?

The Hounds of More have dug deep grooves in your brain. Grooves of dissatisfaction and “What’s wrong with me?” and nothing is ever good enough, etc. You need to change those grooves or you’ll never be satisfied.

That means using Conditions of Enoughness, having tender regard for yourself, speaking to yourself with respect, honoring what you have done with your life, and not feeding the Hounds too much media, caffeine or sugar or Twitter. It’s like raising a child: you give them a ton of love and a ton of boundaries.

Here’s the Goodness about the Hounds of More

They can give you a ton of energy and ideas if they are loving reined in. But you can’t rein them if from a place of “bad dog.” Rein them in from a place of, “You are so wonderfully full of energy and life. You are such boundlessly excited about life! And here is where I need you to channel that energy and life today.”

The Hounds need direction.

And if they bark and bay and chew on your shoe anyway, you say, like David Rock does, “That’s just my brain doing it’s thing,” and you firmly turn away and lovingly go about sticking to your Conditions of Enoughness, knowing that the lingering feeling of not enoughness is a habit, a groove, not permanent,  not fixed, and certainly not an indication that you are not living up to your fabled potential.

Maggie, tell me if that helps!

Please share with me your questions about the Hounds of More or how you rein yours in!

Links: I love what Laura Miller did in her review of The Shallows by Nicholas Carr which is put all the hyperlinks at the end of the article. Genius! Instead of being pulled to click on more info, you can read my post, have a complete thought, and then go click for more info, if you wish. I love this!

So here are the links: The Satisfaction Finder (which is getting rave reviews, happy making!!) the Hounds of More, You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh, Conditions of Enoughness (scroll down a bit), David Rock, and that is enough!

More help for Hounds of More aka perfectionism, overwhelm and the noise in your head:

Today at 5 pm Pacific I’m talking about all this good stuff as part of Renew You. Attend live and it’s free and you can ask questions!

Next Thursday at 1:00 pm Pacific I’m going to do a Twitter chat about Conditions of Enoughness. Basically, you follow me on Twitter and ask me questions and I try to answer them in 140 characters. Ha.

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Molly Gordon, Self-Employment Coach - June 3, 2010

In my morning Focusing session, I had a dialogue with the part of me that feels like it has a cruel bit in its mouth, like a horse. I came to see that the bit is my friend, that when I befriend it I don’t need to race forward against it. I can trust the gentle ride, my true Self, to guide me at the just-right pace in all things.

Provided I say hello to the wild and crazy Ego rider that would have me racing in pain all the time.

Shann - June 3, 2010

Thanks for a great post!

When my mental school yard bully begins to tear me down. I acknowledge the little bugger and then use positive affirmations and clean language around the experience. Purely by witnessing our darkness we shine a healing light.

Andrew Lightheart - June 4, 2010

The Hounds of More need *direction*.

That was a moment of clarity for me.

They just get over-excited, but don’t necessarily have discrimination, just like kids or dogs.

It’s my job to say, Over here.

(By the way, I just realised one of the things my hounds want is intensity. Hmmm…)

Sustainable is HARRRD – Friday Noticings — A Peaceful Resolution - June 4, 2010

[…] post from Jen helped me realise that the Hounds just need […]

Amy - June 4, 2010

My hounds feel more like hamsters in parallel wheels, each trying to outspin the other. And of course, none of them are actually going anywhere.

I appreciate the fire they ignite in me, and the fresh energy they can provide. I acknowledge this and provide it space.

But once the motion has begun it’s generally out of control and less-than-helpful. That’s when I say “Down, guys. Go play in the yard.”

I’m grateful for the juice my hounds have got. Obviously, it helps me create and continue on my path. And I’m aware of the danger that same juice provides when allowed to flow out of control.

No thanks to that.

Hiro Boga - June 4, 2010

Ah, Jen, I hadn’t thought of them as Hounds of More, but as aspects of my selves that bear, in their hearts, my soul’s truths and qualities.

And yes, their essential goodness is often overlaid with anxiety, worry, or overwhelm, which is where the not-good-enough, not-fill-in-the-blank-enough comes from.

Often, for me, they’re all a-flutter after I’ve made a big shift, in my self or in my work, or both. It takes them time to adapt to change. They don’t trust it, they’re not sure how it’s going to affect my life, and they want to keep me safe. Only, their understanding of safety is sometimes limited by their experience, which is fragmented and doesn’t see my life as whole.

Like you, I talk with them, lovingly, with infinite respect for their essence, which is the Sacred incarnate. And because they’re also sometimes very young, I give them structure, boundaries, containment–whatever they need to feel safe, loved, heard and understood.

When I focus on the essence of the truth each of them carries, it reminds them of who they really are. It reminds them of their wholeness, and then we can create together, in harmony with each other, rather than pulling apart in different directions.

I love your Conditions of Enoughness as a container. And will go off now to commune with the Hounds.

Isabel Parlett - June 4, 2010


I am working myself through both the voices that say “you need to do more, be more, and have more” and the voices that make me wrong for thinking I need to do more, be more, and have more.

I love how you brought this to life.


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