Sunday, December 04, 2011

Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he 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 will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

I love this story.

I read it the other day. It was taped up to a friend’s cubicle at work.

And I realized what I have been doing for the last four months. I have been feeding the wrong wolf.

But feeding the right wolf is hard. Especially when you face personal challenges. Feeding the wrong wolf is so easy, because the wrong wolf is always begging at your feet. And the wrong wolf rewards you with a lick on the face to say “it’s okay to feel that way”.

But it’s not okay.

The good wolf does not come to be fed so easily. He can be delusive. To the point that the bad wolf asks you why you bother to try.

You could carry this metaphor on forever. It fits so well.

We are measured by our ability to fend off the bad wolf – and banish him from our lives.

Or at least keep him at bay.

In our daily strife and toil, it is rare to find a person who takes bad wolf to task instead of rewarding him.

So how does one acquire such discipline? What drills can you do, or course can you take? Where does one learn discipline to the degree to fend off the bad wolfs.

Can it even be learned?

Or is it in you already, in some deeply hidden in small doses. Is it there for you to pull out and practice?

Do you simply have to spend time dwelling on why you let the bad wolf console you?

Or is it really better to dwell on the good dog and how to feed him? To go through the list of attributes the old Cherokee listed for the good wolf. One by one. And dwell instead on how each of those attributes could be better employed by you.

Dwell on the question that you have given so much attention as to how you want to be treated – how do you fare in treating others?

I’ll bet it’s like anything else you practice – as you exercise the muscles you need to make you better – exercise the muscle between your ears – it might resist the change in direction – but with time you will train it.

… if you can keep your wits about while you change them.

Wits are often the first to abandon you when you are faced with a conflict. When the bad wolf shows his teeth, your instinct is to calm the beast and reward them – in this case with your own self-pity.

The strongest defense one has from the consequences of consorting with the bad wolf is faith. Faith in the good wolf.

Faith in yourself.

Faith in your own self is the direct reward of self-confidence. And since self-pity or any of the other traits of the bad wolf destroy a person’s feeling of self-worth, self-confidence erodes like the sands of beach as tides of self-pity washes in and out.

Until the beach has no sand.

I have not mastered this myself.

Not yet.

But I do have faith that I will. Now that I know what the bad wolf looks like. And I will stop feeding him, saving my chow instead for the other one.

Now, let’s discuss cats …

The Legend of Two Wolves was borrowed from the website called “First Peoples - The Legends” -

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Every time you have a negative thought try to be aware of it and switch it to a positive thought. Easier said than done however, practice makes perfect I guess. If the Dalai Lama did it I can do it, eh!
Thanks for sharing the story Fred.


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