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The Tale of Two Wolves – A Parable for Understanding Life Choices

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 bad–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.”

There is a parable that has recently resonated with me all over again. I have heard it many years before, but it came back into my life not that long ago, and it reminded me of the impact of not only our choices, but our emotions and mindset as well on our life.

The Fight Never Ends

If you think that you can simply get rid of your first wolf, you might want to think again. Both wolves will always exist within each of us. The wolves represent all aspects of our lives, including our emotions, habits, thoughts, and behaviors. The one that is most powerful, is the one we are currently feeding.

So what happens when you stop feeding and ignore your first wolf? Simple. It becomes hungry. Your first wolf may also be accustomed to being fed regularly, so as you start to feed your second wolf, the first becomes more aggressive when it is no longer being fed. If you ignore your first wolf, it will wait for a moment when you are weak to get what it needs. This is why you may go through a period of complete and utter motivation. You feel on top of the world, focused, determined, and positive, and then one day, you just don’t. Perhaps you had been going strong in your fitness routine, staying on target every day, eating healthy, and focusing on being positive every day, only to wake up one morning and question why you are doing it all. Your motivation, waned, has also caused you to begin feeding your old habits.

This leads to feelings that you have no control over your actions. You start to feel like you are destined to struggle and that life sucks or that you just cannot catch a break. I mean, life was going great until it just…wasn’t.

Acknowledge Both of Your Wolves

Nobody lives a perfect life filled with complete bliss and harmony. Don’t strive for perfection. Focus on improvement. The truth is, everyone has moments of despair, doubt, and pain in their life. It is important to acknowledge the good as well as the bad in life. You cannot have one without the other. Yin and Yang. Truth be told, both the good and bad are essential to life. Furthermore, you cannot truly feel gratitude for the good in your life, without comparison of the bad.

Just remember, there will be times that you filled with motivation, your spirit on fire with positive emotions, and you feel like nothing can bring you down. To ignore the reality that those feelings will eventually subside is foolish. Instead, understand and embrace the inevitability that your current motivation will end eventually, and have a plan in place to move forward in the direction of your goals. This way, when that day comes, you are prepared for it and can engage your first wolf with a positive mentality. By acknowledging the bad behaviors, habits, emotions and feelings in your life, you are not giving power to it, you are simply saying, this is normal, now let’s move on.

Feeding the Right Wolf

It might come to no surprise to you that your first wolf is much easier to feed. It is always hungry and willing to eat at any time. This is why it is so easy to fall into bad, unhealthy habits, toxic behaviors, and shitty emotional states. They are easily fed.

Your second wolf requires effort, patience, and consistency. You have to work harder to feed your second wolf, but with enough time, patience, and consistency, your second wolf will greet you with a higher reward in the end.

It is easy to fuel the negative around you, instead, work harder to fuel the positive. It will take more time, a lot more effort, and a hell of a lot more patience, but you will feel more accomplished, happier, and more successful if you do.


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