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
As a recovering addict I find the story truly heart warming It sums up my addict
I still have anger;envy,sorrow,regret and so so much guilt, but depending how much food you give each will can determine which wolf grows the strongest
So glad to hear that you found the story helpful! It relays so beautifully a powerful, even transformative message if we put it into practice.
That is incorrect interpretation! If you stop feeding the bad he will get weak and eventually die.
The first part of the story is telling us that we can never get rid of the first wolf, the first wolf will always be there. The fight between two wolves is eternal.
Deede Kelsey says
I believe; This is true. As humans we are Forever confronted with temptations to be selfish this is human nature, We were born into a sinful nature and these thoughts will come unconsciously, However when these thoughts come and they will come, we don’t have live in this nature because we are given a free will. So the choice is ultimately up to us.
Latricia Turner says
Excellent and rewarding post. Thank you for helping me choose which “wolf to feed.”
Callie P Roberts says
I love this..
Glad you liked the post Callie! It is insightful.
Brenda Stevens says
My Great Grandmother was Indian and simplicity of their “knowing” speaks volumes ,,,ahhhh THANK YOU!!!! Your words……recognize the burn and FIRE of truth, share on my friend…share on!!!!!
Thank you for you comment and so glad that you enjoyed the post! This Native American Indian wisdom is truly a strong message for all.
The One You Feed says
Thanks for the discussion here. We created a podcast based on this parable. It is called The One You Feed and we’d love to know what you think.
I loved watching Tomorrowland where they’ve done a good job in bringing this quote to life <3
The Native American elder tale shows how things are in reality, that we are all children of God and how we need to recognize our role and make a different in the world we live in. The way we address the issues and manage our difficult experiences dictate the outcome. The issue with the letter of Galatians is that it shows a limited God who punishes his people, it contradicts the idea that the cherokee Indians are teaching. Impurity debauchery, sexual immorality, idolatry can be misconstrued by in various ways depending of one ‘s religion and figment of imagination to me that’s too narrow. God is loving, for he allows free will and offer salvation. The Galatians is about a young Paul addressing the issue of his time, we should not read this out of context. Paul also says in his letter to the Galatians,”Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Galatians 3:3) Paul also wrote in Luke, read that and see the difference as Paul becoming more matured more aware. That is why we should not read the bible by verse, instead we should read in context. People evolve, just like religion we should do the same, open our heart,don’t try to edge God.
Tanya Bhatia says
Found this beautiful story from the drama Hello Monster.. Such an amazing message delivered by these words!
The black wolf.
Technically if u read the full story it goes on to say that u can’t feed one more than the other. If u only feed the good wolf the bad one will always be waiting. So u must feed them both because both have good attributes that the other does not where the good is kind and soft the bad is strong and assertive. Balance them both to truly attain peace.
Donald Calhoun says
Miya I am so glad that you said this. Now I don’t feel like Im the only person that sees this.
Speechless…..so strong of a message …it’s a turning point for everyone.