The story of two wolves is a Cherokee Indian legend illustrating the most important battle of our lives―the one between good and bad within us. Here is how the story goes:
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.”
Feeding ourselves with negative thoughts can bring out the worst in ourselves. Although it’s normal to think negatively, if we continually fuel ourselves with disempowering thoughts, then envy, greed, arrogance, anger, and self-pity, as the story says, invade our lives. Conversely, positive thinking fuels the goodness within us. We exude joy, peace, hope, kindness, and love.
Most of us, however, would agree that our thoughts come and go so quickly that it seems impossible to manage them. But by saying affirmations and practicing self-compassion, we gain confidence and shape life in the direction we want it to go.
Are you allowing negative thoughts to rule your mind? You can learn to manage your thoughts by becoming more aware of them. Then, you can change negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, if you think, “I can’t do anything right,” first understand that this thought is false. You may think you are a failure or not smart, but it’s simply not true. Unfortunately, these false beliefs are shaping your life. So if you notice yourself having negative thoughts, recognize that they are not valid and then create positive affirmations to counter them. If you think, “I’m not lovable,” instead think, “I deserve love, trust, and peace in my life.” Affirmations are powerful and can launch you on the path to positive change.
Being kinder to yourself can radically change your life, especially when you are suffering or feel inadequate. Mercilessly judging or criticizing yourself can keep you stuck in anxiety and depression. If you feed your mind with thoughts of “I’m not good enough” and “I’m a failure,” negative emotions like self-pity, anger, and resentment appear. But when you are more compassionate towards yourself, you feel happier.
So how can you become more self-compassionate? You can encourage and support yourself with the same words you would use if comforting a good friend. Also, you forgive yourself for any mistakes you have made. You go after what you want and treat yourself with respect. You stand up for yourself and set healthy boundaries. In essence, you become your strongest advocate, your biggest cheerleader.
Ultimately, by recognizing the harm you may be doing to yourself, you can apply self-compassion to bring out the best in you.
Our negative thoughts can create anxiety, anger, resentment, jealousy—an array of disempowering emotions. Positive thoughts can create greater peace, confidence and a better outlook on life. We can learn how to manage our thoughts by saying affirmations and practicing self-compassion—all we need to do is exercise our power of choice and choose to feed the good wolf within us.
Which wolf are you feeding? Remember, you always have a choice!
- The Legend of Two Wolves by Celestial Elf (animated video of the Two Wolves story)
- The One You Feed podcast