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.”
This is one of my favorite parables. We all experience a variety of emotions- some good and some bad. We end up feeding the evil wolf when we gossip, take things personally, look for opportunities to be offended, discount the positive in our life and engage in all types of behavior that are driven by feelings of jealousy, resentment, anger and other uncomfortable emotions. In the meantime, we are starving the good wolf.
Here is the cool thing. Once we have awareness, we can make a shift- change our behavior. We have a choice about which wolf we feed. We don’t need to be perfect every day but we need to be conscious of how we are showing up and shift when we are feeding the evil wolf. So here are a few ways that we can feed the good wolf:
- Practice forgiveness for yourself and others. By embracing forgiveness, you embrace peace, gratitude and joy. Forgiveness untethers you from feelings of anger, distrust and resentment.
- Compliment others when deserved. It is a sign that you can be excited for other people’s triumphs.
- Make the best out of every situation. When you are able turn challenges into opportunities, life unfolds in a very beautiful way.
- Improve your self-esteem. Acknowledge the good things about yourself and celebrate your successes. When you can acknowledge the good in you, it becomes easier to acknowledge the good in others.
- Turn down invitations to pick others apart. Try changing the subject when a friend or co-worker wants to have a bad-mouthing session.
- Regulate your emotions. It’s okay to have uncomfortable feelings. When they show up, acknowledge them and choose a response that is helpful, such as meditation, prayer, working on helpful inner dialogue (“It’s okay. I am having a bad day today. I will have a better day tomorrow.”) or finding a temporary distraction to calm down.
- Get professional help. If you are having intense emotions that you experience for prolonged periods of time, talk to a therapist that can help you to understand what’s behind the emotions and provide you with tools to respond effectively to them.
How have you handled this fight that has gone on inside you? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.