The Tale of Two Wolves

I have noticed in recent months the nervous systems of a lot of my clients are what I would term “in overdrive” and there’s good reason for that as one only need to switch on the news or turn on our phones before our system is bombarded by headlines of doom and gloom.

I would like to share an old Cherokee teaching sometimes referred to as “The Tale of Two Wolves” that captures the internal workings of our systems and hopefully you will find this story helpful. The story goes like this:

One evening, an elderly grandfather is telling his grandson about the inner conflict within him.

He says to his grandson, “A fight is going on inside me. 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.”

The grandfather continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

He looked at the grandson and went on, “The same fight is going on inside you, and every other person, too.” 

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The grandfather replied simply, “The one you feed.”

What comes up for you when you read that story? When you stop to reflect, which one of the two wolves within you have you been feeding more lately?

Have you been feeding the parts of you that lead with gratitude, optimism, empowerment, compassion, peace, and joy? Or have you been feeding the parts of you that embody things like regret, envy, guilt, fear and resentment?

Today, I invite you to reflect on which wolf you’ve been choosing to put your time, energy, attention, and fuel towards… And if you haven’t been feeding the parts of you that you would like to lead the way and thrive, that’s okay! What can you start doing now to nourish those parts more? 

Below are ten practices Dr. Leif Hass and his colleagues at Sutter Health (USA) have been prescribing to their patience titled “Prescription for Health and Happiness”.

1. Take a few deep breaths

2. Call an old friend

3. Give someone a hug

4. Help a friend in need

5. Write a thank you note

6. Sing in the shower

7. Dance to your favourite song

8. Go for a walk in a beautiful place

9. Forgive someone

10. Talk to yourself with a kinder voice

Which of these prescriptions could you use today? What do you need a dose of in order to feel better? What will help you to feel more calm, connected and well?

I’m personally going to give myself a dose of #3 today – give someone a hug.  How about you?