There’s an old Cherokee tale about two wolves, and I have been thinking about it a lot these days.
The story goes something like this:
One evening, an elderly Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside each of us.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
“The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one that you feed.”
The last line of this story keeps coming to mind as we navigate through the days and weeks of this pandemic.
I have always understood the story’s message, but I feel like I am regularly being presented with opportunities to take the wisdom of the story to heart—to ask the question: which wolf am I feeding?
Feeding the Bad Wolf
As humans, it is natural for us to experience a wide range of emotions. This is why both wolves reside inside of us. Experiencing some amount of grief, fear, anxiety, or uncertainty, would seem to be both a natural and normal emotional expression of the current situation.
However, how much of these emotions do we allow?
Do we continually feed them to the point that our bad wolf is dominating?
Your Wolf Among the Wolf Pack
I am finding it increasingly apparent which wolf other people are choosing to feed right now. Would you agree?
The bad wolves are showing up in various forms:
- The person who incessantly texts every unsubstantiated bit of information they come across…
- The man on the trail who yells because you accidentally got “too close”…
- The company that terrifies you by stating that there will soon be a national food shortage (and they happen to also be selling their premade shakes)…
- The practitioner whose newsletter updates her 200 current clients that, extrapolating from the most recent statistics, 12 of them will “be dead from this virus”…
- The doctor that worries patients that they are at “higher risk”, simply because they fall into a group of people who all happen to have the same condition…
The good wolves are certainly appearing as well:
- The loving friends and family, both near and far, who regularly check-in…
- The abundance of expertise, programs, prayers, meditations, and healing resources being offered…
- The 89-year-old neighbor who sends funny videos daily to be sure you are remaining happy and smiling…
- The group texts of classroom moms offering ideas and support…
- The employees who are both understanding and flexible through various transitions…
These are some of the actual wolves, both bad and good, that have made recent appearances in my life.
In order to “protect” my good wolf, I have had to become increasingly more selective about turning down (or, in some cases, turning off!) the voices of these other wolves. Many of them are howling quite loudly these days!
However, I believe that we ultimately decide which “pack” we belong to.
“When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out – because that’s what’s inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside.” — Wayne Dyer
Feeding the Good Wolf
The tale of the two wolves is a great reminder that we have choice over what we let reside inside of us.
Once we become aware of the two wolves, we gain the power to stop feeding the bad wolf and start putting that time and energy towards the good wolf, so that it can thrive.
That doesn’t mean that we will ever completely rid ourselves of fear, worry, or doubt. We simply move around them—towards love, kindness, generosity and hope.
We practice keeping our perspective focused on the things that are positive, productive, and beneficial—both for ourselves and for others.
This feeds our good wolf.
And this choice can define how we will experience the weeks and months ahead of us.