Two wolves: which will you feed?

By Melissa Martin

The following is a Native American parable in the public domain. 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.”

Which wolf do you have inside? How do we feed the wolf? What do we feed the wolf?

The wolf is a two-sided coin because of the fiasco in the Garden of Eden. Humanity is messy and flawed. Humans have traits of both wolves, but many strive to feed the “good” wolf.

Emotions are messy, but so necessary. Without feelings we would be like robots. But learning to manage emotions is key to balancing daily feelings. Emotions are not good or bad, but neutral. It’s how we create and express feelings that matter. We are entitled to how we feel, but we are not entitled to blast someone with our anger, resentment, and stubbornness. And feelings come and go and ebb and flow—just because you feel it doesn’t make it so.

Thoughts are just thoughts; sometimes accurate and sometimes not accurate. Humans benefit from questioning their thoughts when trying to solve relational problems.

Thoughts fuel emotions and emotions fuel thoughts. Responses, reactions, and behaviors follow.

The Bible says the love of money is the root of evil. Greed is toxic to self and to relationships. And to humanity. And to the planet and universe.

There is enough food, water, and shelter on the Earth—there really is. However, greedy land owners plunder the soil and sell crops to the highest bidder without concern for hungry, starving and dying children. Or despots and dictators choke the economy by overspending on weapons of war. Medicine and healthcare are used as pawns by the powerful. Which wolf does a megalomaniac feed?

In his famous book “Man’s Search for Meaning” Victor Frankl tells the story of how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning in the hellacious experience, which gave him the will to live through it. The meaning of life according to Frankl is about finding a purpose for ourselves and other human beings. Which wolf did Frankl feed?

Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and past humanitarians chose to feed the “good” wolf. Many religious or spiritual people choose to feed the “good” wolf. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus—how do they feed the wolf?

How do ordinary people living ordinary lives feed the wolf? Do humans change out of desperation or inspiration—or both? How do we help and not harm others? How do we stay away from the God-bless-us-four-and-no-more attitude?

How do we feed the other wolf with our spouses and families? Living in a house, hut, or high-rise with another person is difficult because of self-centeredness. Some take more than they give. So, which wolf will you feed in your marriage?

Once we are aware of the two wolves, we can choose to change how we think, feel, act, and react. Yes, change is scary, but so necessary. Listen to your internal voice and decide to change how you think about people, places, and things. Change how you talk about people, places, and things. Throw gossip, cussing, and bad-mouthing others into the garbage. Step out of yourself and your own comfort zone and choose how to treat others. Check selfish motives. Reflect on what you value and why you value what you value. Stop throwing judgement stones at others.

Which wolf will you feed?

By Melissa Martin

Reach:Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]

Reach:Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]