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Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

I was thinking recently about the old Cherokee Legend, the story of the Two Wolves.  I'm sure most of you know the story about which wolf are you feeding but it's worth reading again.  

Ray Hennesy (unsplash.com)

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 think about t his legend periodically because I used to have a lot of negative self talk.  On my bad days, I would sometimes shock myself with what would enter my mind: "You're not going to make it." "You're lazy!" "You're not good enough." This wolf loomed large and scary at times.   I realized though that the wolves were my own creation. I could instead feed the wolf that is filled with compassion, humility, love, grace, good humor and action. It really is a matter of choice, even though when the wolves come, it's easier to believe those terrible thoughts. 

Think about how your day is going right now. Which wolf are you feeding?

Our thoughts are the single most powerful tool we can use to foster closeness in our relationships, to succeed in business or to get through a tough day.  It's about shifting our attention and intention to what we WANT, not on what we don't want. In our relationships, rather than spending time thinking about all the things our partner does to irritate us, we can get power, compassion and energy when we focus on all the wonderful things she or he does. When thinking about myself, my day is brighter, my energy higher, my joy wider when I give myself grace, remember my sense of humor and I do the things I need to do with integrity. I like that wolf! 

So, why do we feed the nasty wolf when the joyful wolf is so much more pleasant to be around?

While we can make a conscious choice about which wolf we feed (and that matters!), so much of what drives our negative self talk comes from the unconscious parts of our mind - buried moments that have scarred us along the way.   What has supported and lifted me out of my unconscious patterns are powerful brain-body based therapies like Brainspotting, Hakomi and personal growth seminars like Landmark Education.  It dawned on me recently that I don't really battle the wolves like I used to.  For many of us, until we get support from effective therapies, self help books and other forms of education, no matter how much we feed the "kind wolf", the bad wolf will keep coming back hungry.  That can be exhausting!

If you find no matter how hard you try, that you can't keep the nasty wolf at bay, maybe it's time to get some support and make that wolf go away for good!

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