Internal Battle of the Wolves

Divine Within

There is a Native American story that I love and gives a great visual for us to understand what is going on within us at different moments in our lives. The story is about a grandfather who tells his grandson that there are two fighting wolves within us.

One wolf is full of anger, resentment, jealousy, blame, hate, guilt.

The other wolf is full of love, acceptance, kindness, faith, peace, hope.

The grandson asks, “Which wolf wins?” The grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”

Isn’t that the truth? We all have these feelings inside of us and we possess the ability to create our reality based on which wolf we are feeding. I made a picture of this particular story a few years ago for my son and it is hung in his room as a reminder that we all have the ability to choose our actions and “feed” ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with feeling angry, jealous, or even resentful from time to time. The feeling is what it is.

However, whether we act on it is totally up to us.

Sometimes the anger is so overwhelming that we feel powerless and react through yelling, violence or self destruction (over-eating, drinking, etc). Through present moment awareness (mindfulness practice), we train to be with our feelings and cultivate an inner awareness that provides space so we don’t feel that strong impulse to react.

Instead we can use these feelings as signals to go inward. Our emotions are constantly guiding us and sending us clues to heal from the inside out.

For example, I never liked feeling angry. I actually would feel guilty if I was angry — so on top of the anger was guilt and then later resentment. Wow — can we dig ourselves into a hole. I have now learned to appreciate my anger. I can use it as a sign that something is off.

When I am present with the anger, I realize that most of the time I am feeling this way due to not supporting myself, for example, not getting enough sleep or not having enough quiet time. I most likely have over extended myself and have not been clear on my boundaries. I will then take my power back by restoring myself and my boundaries. No longer is there a need to look outward and point the finger at another. Our feelings are a call to look inward. We then can respond from a loving place because we have processed our feelings and activated our healing power.

Just by being human, we all encounter internal battling wolves. However, we each have the capacity to feed the wolf we want to experience in our lives. If we want more love, we have to give more love. If we want to be supported, we have to support ourselves and others. If we want to be understood, we have to learn to understand.

Next time you feel the strong pull to blame, gossip, yell, or compete, just remember you always have a choice. The more you choose to respond instead of react, a new pattern will start to develop.

We have to continually feed ourselves and make choices that are aligned with the life we are creating. We can begin to see our emotions as guides that are directing us to heal. Use it as an opportunity to go inward instead of reacting outwardly. In time, we build new patterns and our old ones will no longer entice us.

If we find ourselves “feeding the wrong wolf,” we simply course correct. There is no need to shame ourselves. We forgive, clean up our mess if possible, and do better next time. There is always a new moment presenting itself to us to start again.

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Mindfulness is a limitless tool for self-discovery. It is an experiential process, meaning that you cannot just read about mindfulness to understand the process and receive its benefits. You actually have to practice and develop the skill to be present.


-- Amanda Votto

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