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Two Wolves Fighting Inside You

by Katie Cullum

There’s a story about an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life. He tells the boy that there are two wolves fighting inside him. One is evil and one is good.

polar wolves
Polar Wolves - Image by Mila Kusmenko from Pixabay

One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, superiority, ego, and false pride.

The other wolf is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.  The same fight goes on inside all of us.

The grandson asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” 

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I’m not sure about the origin of the story, and neither is the internet.  It may or may not be true but it does have some application to our lives, especially today. 

Do you know people who remind you of the evil wolf? You may not call them “evil” but they tend to keep the not-so-great qualities alive.  They may have a tendency to bring people down by being negative.  They may be arrogant, or they may act out of self-pity.  These kind of people are just difficult to be around.  You may be able to get away from them, but you may have to keep dealing with evil wolves where ever you are. 

Dean Yeong suggests that the fight between the two wolves is eternal.  Both wolves will always be around.  You will never get completely away from the evil wolf and you will never fully become the good wolf.  But you will become closer to the one you feed more often. 

It’s easy to complain, to whine about your difficult life these days.  It’s easy to dismiss the encouragement from others (“They don’t understand me!”) or to ignore all the good advice.  It’s much easier to focus on the negative. 

It’s a little bit harder to press on, to learn new skills, to share, to encourage the good.  These things may take more time & energy than we’re used to giving. 

But which wolf do you want to be more like? Then that’s the wolf you should feed more.  Make a habit of pausing before complaining.  Show gratitude before critiquing.  Like any habit, it takes work.  

You could probably easily name some evil wolves in your life.  Can you name the good wolves?  What qualities do they possess that you appreciate?  What could you do today to act more like them?  I have a friend (I’ll call her B).  It doesn’t do much good to complain to B, because she almost always turns that complaint around into a blessing.  She usually reminds me to be thankful, not ungrateful, to focus on others instead of myself.  It’s not always easy to remember (especially around some people) but it’s always worth it.  I can save myself a lot of time and energy that I would spend angry, whining, and railing at the world.  Or I can turn that around, and be grateful for the good. 

Does that mean that we’re always happy?  Nope.  I saw a Facebook image the other day from @HolisticallyGrace – Yes, AND. 

Yes, we can feel grateful AND disappointed about things being cancelled.

Yes, we can enjoy extra time with loved ones AND feel overwhelmed by their presence.

Yes, we can be hopeful AND feel like everything is falling apart.

Yes, we can be a source of support for others AND prioritize our need, fill our own cup.

If you need permission to grieve, check out the Family Life Fridays blog “We’re All Grieving.” Another great resource is our “Managing Stress” publication or check out the video from the At Home with UAEX Facebook page