This to me is one of the most beautiful and powerful legends, usually attributed the American Indian Cherokee wisdom tradition – I invite you to read on:
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.”
If we are even slightly honest with ourselves, deep at heart we know this is true. Inside ourselves, we have both the good wolf and the evil wolf lying next to each other. And it would just be anecdotal if it were not so transcendental: the wolf we pay more attention to wins and rules our lives,
We can be honest and sweet and caring and generous and compassionate and, a second later, we can be dishonest and bitter and selfish and cheap and non-caring. And sometimes we don’t even have to wait a second for us to turn into the evil wolf; it seems that we can even be both wolves at the same time. We give ourselves such a feast without even noticing that it is happening! We would reason: “it is just life being life, just me being me.”
Actually, there is quite some truth in the fact that we can be the bad wolves and that when we are, it is because it is “me being me.”
Ever since Adam and Eve lost the paradise and were thrown into the jungle, I have been genetically wired to remember danger and to look for it, to be aware that fear is my friend, that it protects me and it warns me of all hazards and risks, and helps me kill and destroy the enemy in whichever way I can.
At the slightest provocation and hint of fear, my ancestral body-- the bad wolf-- was ready to fight or flight. The jungle that I roamed was full of dangers and I needed to be ready for it. I had to make sure to feed my bad wolf so he would be ready to help me get out of danger or to attack. Spending time smelling the flowers or becoming enraptured with the beauty of a sunset was out of the question. The risk was immense, without vigilance for what could go bad, made me an easy target, unable to respond to threats.
I don’t live in the jungle any longer. At least not in nature’s jungle. We as species have evolved and the need to feed the fearful, ferocious wolf that would keep us safe has passed. Most of us live lives in which we don’t need to sharpen our teeth to kill our enemies. Our ancestors’ evolutionary need for keeping fear alive is quite irrelevant in our lives today. But we still keep the physiological and neurological memory of those days, and we remain wired for fight and flight. Thus the bad wolf is still roaming inside us, always on call.
The emotional, psychological and physiological traits we inherited from our ancestors have a side effect that is quite pernicious. This harmful side effect is called: negativity bias. What psychologist Rick Hanson describes colorfully saying that we are Velcro for bad and Teflon for good.
This bias feeds and grows the bad wolf inside us, and left unchecked it colors our entire life experience with negativity, mistrust, drama and fear.
If you don’t think it is possible that we have this active Velcro gene directing the way we relate to life, take a minute and think about a few instances. For example: what do you remember more, the four times when your partner interrupted you last night or, the times when he did not interrupt and you both had a nice interaction; what does your teenager son remembers more, the few times when you were late to pick him up at school or, all the other times when you were on time; what do you remember more, the compliments you received for the way you looked in a particular outfit or, the outfit you felt so “ugly” in; what do you remember more, the good time you had last week at work or, the damaging remarks you heard from one of your colleagues.
I hope you get the idea, because next time when you find yourself in that thought route, know it is your Velcro bias acting up and feeding the ugly wolf. And if you are not aware of this he can definitely shape your life in a way that is not really conducive to creativity, abundance or happiness.
The Velcro in you shapes your life not only in remembering and noticing the negative more than the positive but if left unchecked it is behind all your choices as well as behind all your important life decisions. It is the shadow that envelops you when you have a dream you want to bring into your life, a new job you would like to explore, a change of careers, a new book you want to write, even a new look, anything that is new and you are passionate about!!! All your decisions are shaded by the blanket of fear that is at the base of all negativity. It keeps you safe in the stable; it immobilizes you into surrendering to what is acceptable and normal.
I am sure you will agree that happiness is not evil wolf's favorite instrument!
Fortunately you have another wolf too: The Good Wolf. He is not afraid and he is all love and compassion and he dreams big dreams, and he applauds and fans your passions, he wants true happiness to be your life experience. And when you allow him to work with you, he delivers true happiness.
Problem is that most of the time we don’t hear or notice the good wolf. The gnawing noise of the bad wolf is so loud that it may drown the enticing softness of the good wolf’s music. And happiness passes us by.
THE QUESTION IS THEN: HOW DO WE GET RID OF THE BAD WOLF?
By learning to feed the good wolf. By learning what to feed him and how to feed him.
We feed him the fruit of our inner strengths. Those attributes, conditions and states of mind that characterize the good wolf. Those described by the old Cherokee as joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
As we mindfully develop them and they start to take roots in ourselves, the good wolf becomes stronger, and the bad wolf weakens and withers away.
We feed him using a similar method to the one we use to attract what we want, that which we desire. But in this case the objective is not to create from the un-manifest to the manifest, but instead, to create and grow inner strengths. We focus on a conscious inner process of encoding those attributes in the nervous system. A slight subtle change of focus but the process is quite similar. In the book Happiness No Matter What! I go into detail teaching on how to consciously create and bring that which you want into your life.
In the next post we will work with the specific method that will lead you to identify those attributes you want to attract to you and also on how to incorporate them into your being in a way that they become permanent.
In a way, it is a magical method, because as you will see, it is a very process that is extremely powerful and it will transform your life. You don’t need to believe in anything, it is based on the scientific cognitive principles of the learning process.
I will walk you through the specific steps to grow your inner strengths so that they stick with you into a happier and more creative and peaceful life for ever!
Till next time!
In the meantime, if you enjoy it please share with friends. And if you have a moment, please leave your comments. I would love to read them.
Be well, be happy,
PS. The wolves could be feminine or masculine or a mix. Fear is not gender dependent.