Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Two Wolves

There is an old Cherokee tale.  A father tucks his son into bed, and the son asks for a story.  The father tells him, "Inside everyone there are two wolves.  One is ugly and bitter, full of anger, jealousy, spite, and hate.  The other is beautiful and good, full of humanity, equanimity, loving, generosity, and contentedness."

The son asks, "Which wolf wins?"

The father answers, "The one you feed."

Our world feeds the ugly wolf.  TV and magazines tell us we should be younger, thinner, prettier, richer.  We should drive this kind of car, eat that kind of food, use this kind of shampoo so that our hair can be shinier.  All of it sending the message that we're less than we are.

So it becomes doubly important to feed the beautiful wolf.  Feed it nourishing food and give it plenty of exercise.  Take it for long walks on the beach and read your favorite books to it.  Give it your favorite coffee from your favorite coffeeshop, and do one lovely thing for it every day.

I'm reminded of these two wolves every day when I leave yoga class (which, incidentally, is where I first heard the story of the two wolves).  My yoga studio is next to a Popeye's Louisiana Chicken.  I have never, ever eaten at a Popeye's, but when I leave class, I'm usually starving, and that Popeye's smells so freaking good and all I want to do is order a bucket of Cajun fried shrimp.

But I've just spent an hour and a half on my mat, feeding the good the wolf, and fried shrimp is exactly what the bad wolf wants.  Just like it wants to sit on the couch and watch television all day instead of writing.  Just like it wants to let my inner critic have free rein, instead of silencing it with all the sweet words the good wolf has.

Being on submission for the past few months, feeding the good wolf has been a struggle.  And I can't say there haven't been days when the bad wolf has taken over my house, sitting in the middle of my living room floor and feasting on all the negativity I've fed it.

But with constant vigilance, the good wolf has come roaring back, nudging the ugly wolf into a corner, and feeding on a steady diet of good thoughts and positive attitude.  It takes work, though.  It takes effort.  The world around us - full of inauthentic people, flashing negative messages, and criticism about our choices from every direction - wants to feed the bad wolf.  So it is up to us, ourselves alone, to keep the good wolf fat and healthy.

Inside you there are two wolves.  Which wolf will you feed today?


  1. LOVE THIS! And I needed to hear it for sure!

  2. Great post, Nicole. I've been working hard for a while now to only feed the good wolf. Of course the bad wolf is pushy and a nuisance but usually I can deflect her!

    1. Thanks, Ginger. It's definitely hard work, and a lot of times it takes very conscious thought! Side note: for some reason, I think of my bad wolf as a he and my good wolf as a she. More fodder for therapy, haha!