Have you heard the story of the two wolves yet?
An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil—he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego. The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
They thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?” The Elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I had saved this story somewhere, and I came across it again today while looking for something to write about. It resonated with me because I have spent the past few days struggling with many of the bad wolf’s feelings: anger, sorrow, regret, resentment…
I don’t think that it is fair to label any of these emotions ‘evil’ all on their own–life is simply not that black & white. I know that every emotion has something to tell you about what’s going on in your life. Anger, for example, is often the messenger that speaks to us of a loss of power, or a transgression of our boundaries. She is a powerful emotion that can allow us to jump into action. Anger is not evil all on her own–she is evil only when you spend too long feeding her. This is where I identify with the story of the bad wolf–I do not judge myself for my anger, but I know that if I feed her too much, too long, she might grow into a monster inside of me. Then an emotion that is natural, that provides self-awareness and insight into a situation, can become distorted into the big hungry bad wolf.
I have spent the past few days feeding the bad wolf. I imagine I’ll be spending a while longer feeding it, too. And when I am ready, I will be able to turn my energy towards the good wolf. Until then, I’ll keep the story of the wolves in mind as a reminder of who I would like to win the battle.