An old woman is telling her granddaughter about a fight that is going on inside of her. She says it is between two wolves.
One is dark: full of envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, superiority, and pride.
The other light: full of joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, honesty, compassion, faith, and gratitude.
The granddaughter thinks about it for a minute and then asks her grandmother, “Which wolf wins?”
The grandmother simply replies, “The one I feed.”
We all have the voices of the two wolves swirling through our thoughts daily. In every moment we choose to nourish the wolf of darkness or the wolf of light. Both wolves live inside our minds and thoughts, and we often determine that the dark wolf is bad, and that the light wolf is “better than,” and still they are both a part of who we are. Our wolves grow, learn, and gain their voices from the journey of our experiences.
The distinction is not to make the voice of the dark wolf bad and to push it away—but to listen to and acknowledge her. There is a saying that “what we resist persists.” The more we try to push the dark wolf out of our heads and out of our lives, the more attention we are paying to her. Every moment of pushing away and judging the voice of the dark wolf adds yet another juicy morsel to her meal.
Think about this: how much time do you spend worrying, feeling guilty, speaking negatively to yourself, telling yourself that what you are thinking is wrong or bad, or that you are wrong or bad? In all of those moments, you are feeding the dark wolf the exact food it requires to grow even fatter, plumper, and more comfortable inside your head.
Consider instead the possibility of gently loving and acknowledging the dark wolf. Letting the dark wolf know you hear her, but that you are going to choose a new and different thought, action, or way of being; that you are going to be, speak, and act in the ways of the light wolf. We nourish the light wolf when we act with kindness, when we choose love over anger, when we show appreciation for another, when we have compassion, and when we practice forgiveness. And we feed the light wolf its most savored meal when we practice this with ourselves and deliver love, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness to our very own dark wolf.
- Meditation. The practice of meditation is one of the most powerful ways to nourish the light wolf. In this practice, sit quietly for fifteen to twenty minutes a day and focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath. As the voices of the wolves float through your mind, acknowledge them, say hello to each, and then go back to your breath. Do not judge the process or yourself. Consider compassion and loving yourself as you deepen the focus of your practice.
- Write a letter to the dark wolf. Perhaps you might even want to name the dark wolf. Write a loving, forgiving, and appreciative letter to her. Let her know that you hear her voice and acknowledge her thoughts, her pain, her anger, or her confusion. Let her know that you understand her feelings and that you are grateful for the lessons you have learned from her voice. But at the same time you can let the dark wolf know that you are no longer going to feed her. That it is time to move on, to focus on the light wolf, and to practice loving yourself.
- Nourish the light wolf. One of the simplest and most wonderfully gratifying way to nourish the light wolf is to practice acts of random kindness. Make a commitment to yourself to practice one act of kindness every day for the next thirty days. This is your own practice, shared with you and your light wolf only. It is a quiet practice and comes from a place of authenticity and love.