Recently I came across the classic Cherokee story of Two Wolves.  An elder is speaking to a grandson — about life, no less.  Two Wolves is particularly poignant for me because I know the experience of an internal push-pull so very well.  The push-pull of conflicting feelings, sometimes even values; wanting to be here but also wanting or needing to be there; wanting to be included, wanting to be independent…

Push pull, two wolves, who could be seen as fighting inside me.  Two wolves – One dilemma!  Here’s one version of the story.  

The Story of Two Wolves

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 the photo of the wolves, and find it helpful to remember that wolves are pack animals, they nurture their young, they care for and help each other.  And they are killers.  

So is this really a dilemma? Here’s one way to parse it that is helpful for me.  

From story above, it becomes clear, once again, that where we put our attention carries the day. The wolf we feed is the one that grows; this “wolf” affects our thoughts, our feelings, our actions.  What we feel and notice, cultivate and nurture, thrives, and actually is who and what we become.  Those pathways deepen in our mind, and those patterns, habits and ways of being deepen in our psyche…which brings in the exciting new field of neuroplasticity, the promising and mysterious workd of mind-body connections.

two wolves

How rad 🙂 and what a huge opportunity!   Will we notice and take it? Let’s do! Our lives and survival depend on it.

Are there two wolves you notice that seem to be warring within you?  I’d love to know.  We’re in this together!   It is a great opportunity, the beginning of this new year and decade, to take stock.  

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook. 🙂

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