The Story of Two Wolves

Years ago now I heard an old Cherokee story that has stuck with me. When I find myself thinking negatively, I remind myself of it. I came across it again recently and thought it would follow on nicely from my previous two posts on self compassion and meditation.

The story goes that a grandfather is talking with his grandson. “I have a fight going on within me,” the old man says. “It is taking place 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.”

The grandfather looks at the grandson and goes on. “The other embodies positive emotions. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. Both wolves are fighting to the death. The same fight is going on inside you and every other person, too.”

The grandson takes a moment to reflect on this. Eventually, he looks up at his grandfather and asks, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee replies simply “The one you feed.”

If you find yourself thinking negatively, then acknowledge the thoughts (without judgement) and your awareness of them before letting them go. Avoid getting caught up in them, analysing, ruminating. Don’t feed them. Equally, nurture positive thoughts and feelings. Dwell on those, give them more of your attention, feed them. Learn what generates those positive thoughts and feelings in you and do more of that, whether it is sleep, meditation, music, exercise, a creative activity, getting out in nature, being with people you find uplifting, whatever works for you. By uplifting yourself, you will uplift those around you too.