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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Wolf We Feed

I read this Native American wisdom a few years ago, and I was pleased when a cyber friend recently posted it on her Facebook page. It is definitely worth repeating.

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth." The boy thought about it, then he asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee quietly replied, "The one you feed."

I think the wisdom in this brief tale is profound. If we don't feed our negative emotions, they are more likely to go away, or at least to become less powerful. I know that if I am in a bad mood, the whole day can quickly spiral into a deep, dark hole. If we focus on the positive, we are more likely to enjoy the benefits a positive outlook can bring. We will feel better, and those around us will feel better, too.

Over the years, I have had opportunities to practice this lesson. A few years ago, it seemed that my world was collapsing around me; I was incredibly stressed. I started to think about all the 'what ifs.' My thoughts were full of worry, anxiety and fear. I had trouble sleeping and eating. Nothing was going right. I then realized that I had a choice. I could continue to spin in a downward spiral, or I could change my way of thinking. It took a few days, but eventually I started to focus on the positive aspects of my situation.

The other reason this appeals to me, of course, is the reference to wolves. Followers of this blog know that I frequently write about wolves and government-sanctioned efforts to 'manage' (i.e., exterminate) them. Having had several opportunities to spend time with these magnificent animals, I still find myself in awe whenever I am with them. A powerful spiritual teacher in many Native cultures, the wolf has lessons to teach all of us, Native and non-Native alike.

We all have wolves within us, engaged in a struggle. Think about your life at this time; which wolf are you feeding?