You’re never alone. Even if you’re all by yourself in the room, you’re still not alone. But this doesn’t mean that you’re crazy – though it might be possible – or that your house is haunted by ghosts. Nope. This means that the white and black wolf inside of you are fighting. Yes, there are two wolves living inside of you. One white and one black. And the winner will be the one you feed.
Obviously, there are no wolves living inside of you. Unless, of course, you’re not Wolverine or Michael Corvin from the famous movie Underworld. What I mentioned above is based on the famous parable: The Story of Two Wolves.
The story goes something like this:
A fight is going on inside me,” said the old Cherokee to his grandson. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, resentment, lies, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The wolves are fighting to the death.
Wide-eyed, the boy asks his grandfather which wolf will win. The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
If you heard the story before, you probably know what these two wolves represent. That’s right, they portray your lower self and your higher self. And though the black wolf is the reason you’re overweight and you’re not in a good relationship with your mother, it’s inseparable part of you. Meaning, you can’t banish him from the pack. These two wolves are like the two sides of a coin – different, polar opposites of good and bad, yet, undividable. And in order to live a good life, you need to cope with them both and summon them depending on the situation.
3 Lessons I’ve Learned From The Tale of The Two Wolves
The same fight is going on inside you. Actually, the same wolf-bash is going on inside every other person you know – whether they admit it or not. But unlike them, you’re here and reading this.
Even though the moral of the tale is quite clear, there are 3 things not so obvious. Below I’ll extract the 3 hidden lessons from this short parable so you can help the wolves you’re sheltering have a clean fight and eventually even assist them to live together in harmony.
1. The Fight Between The Two Wolves Continues Forever
The clash between the two wolves in the two wolves tale is eternal. There is never a real ending. You can beat the hell out of the black wolf but you’ll still see him resurrect, making you do nasty shit. Things like: Lying to your spouse; Envy your friends when you see pics of them vacationing; Or even burst with fury every time the internet connection is slow.
The same applies if you decide to choke the white wolf who is always trying to sprinkle joy. You can act macho. Post stuff online to inflate your ego. Don’t give a f*ck about others. Become an internet troll and bombard people with nasty comments. Actually read the book about not giving a f*ck… Still, at some point, the white wolf will take the wheel and eventually make you help others, smile, donate some cash to strangers, recycle, and even suddenly start crying when you watch Leonardo in Titanic.
As I mentioned, the two wolves will always be there, living inside of you. Fighting over taking control. One day the white wolf will be the one controlling the mother ship. The other, fury and arrogance will be your defaults.
That’s why you will never be 100% productive. Nor you should be too hard on yourself when you eat a vanilla ice cream with a chocolate topping on top when you’re trying to lose weight. You will slip here and there but this is normal. We’re humans, and we do stupid shit every once in a while. But as the old Cherokee mentioned to his son, if you want to help the white wolf win more rounds than the black one, you should feed him.
But what does this means?
2. Feed The White Wolf More Often
Let me ask you, how do you feel after eating a couple of cheeseburgers, some fries, and say a double-sized cheesecake for dessert? Good? Probably yes. At least initially. But what happens after a while? Anxiety. Panic. Unease. Even feelings of disgust. You start worrying about your weight. About how to photoshop your belly for your next Insta photoshoot. You can even start questioning your existence. On top of that, free-flowing gas erupting from your behinds might suffocate the neighbors.
This is what happens when you feed the black wolf. You see, the black wolf is not stupid. Yes, he is the representation of everything bad you might do, but definitely not stupid. He’s actually quite clever and insidious. He sugarcoats bad things and presents them as they are cool and trendy.
The scene that immediately erupts in the back of my mind is when the dark Sith lord – Darth Sidious – was persuading young Skywalker to join the dark force. He was presenting the dark forces as a not-really-bad thing and as something that will help him resurrect his mother but eventually turned him into a half-breathing, lighting-sprinkling machine with a black funny-looking mask. Yes, quite famous till this very day, but still a total jerk who is trying to rule the galaxy and kill the mighty Jedi. The dark Sith lord was feeding his mind with poison.
This is what happens when you allow the black wolf to take over. When you feed him – by mistake or intentionally – you start beliving that arrogant behavior is the normal behavior.
But how do we feed these imaginary wolves inside of us?
Well, we surely don’t feed them with dog food, say Pedigree Pouch, we feed them with thoughts. For instance, if you constantly think about robbing a bank, you’ll probably, at some point, attempt a robbery.
In contrast, if you think about making the world a better place – as cheezy as it sounds – you will most probably help strangers, recycle, inspire others, and support causes.
So, let’s go back to the initial question in this section. But this time, let me ask you this: How would you feel if you exercise regularly and if you daily eat vegetables, broccoli or other greens? Surely not as good as eating a burger, but you’ll undoubtedly feel better after a while.
3. Feed Both Wolves
Remember when I said that we should feed the white wolf? It was in the former section, just above. Well, it’s not totally true. Actually, the story of the two wolves doesn’t end as mentioned above. There is actually more.
After saying “The one you feed.” The old Cherokee continuous…
If you feed them right, they both win.” later he adds the following:
“You see, if I only choose to feed the white wolf, the black one will be hiding around every corner waiting for me to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he craves. He will always be angry and will always fight the white wolf.”
“But if I acknowledge him, he is happy and the white wolf is happy and we all win. For the black wolf has many qualities – tenacity, courage, fearlessness, strong-willed and great strategic thinking – that I have need of at times. These are the very things the white wolf lacks. But the white wolf has compassion, caring, strength and the ability to recognize what is in the best interest of all.”
“You see, son, the white wolf needs the black wolf at his side. To feed only one would starve the other and they will become uncontrollable. To feed and care for both means they will serve you well and do nothing that is not a part of something greater, something good, something of life.”
“Feed them both and there will be no more internal struggle for your attention. And when there is no battle inside, you can listen to the voices of deeper knowledge that will guide you in choosing what is right in every circumstance.”
“Peace, my son, is the Cherokee mission in life. A man or a woman who has peace inside has everything. A man or a woman who is pulled apart by the war inside him or her has nothing.”
“How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both.”
Or in other words, it’s all about balance. That’s why the yin and yang symbol is so widely spread and that’s why all living, and not so, monks are/were talking about inner peace.
Feeding only the white wolf makes a lot of sense, but trying to neglect the black wolf will only lead to impulsive behavior and probably even worse outcomes.
That’s why there are so many stories of kids with really good backgrounds, parents, and a lot of potential turning into drugs addicts or end up becoming alcoholic, or both. These folks were neglecting their black wolf for so long that at some point he erupted and started drinking, shouting, and hitting on everything that moves. Savage!
As the old man is saying, you need to feed them both and take advantage of their qualities.
For instance, the black wolf represents arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. However, even these qualities can be good if they are used in the right way. Ego, can turn into self-respect and also respect towards others. Channeled properly, superiority can help you build confidence in yourself and help you overcome self-doubt. Something you absolutely need if you want to excel in your career, start a business or overcome a bad relationship.
The qualities of the white wolf – kindness, empathy, generosity – sound good on paper and in fairy tales, however, try to win a girl or to run a business when you’re kind with everyone. From time to time, you need to use the qualities society marked as negative to defend yourself, your family and to create the world you want to live in. And this doesn’t happen only when you take care of the white wolf, this happens when you feed both wolves and help them live together in harmony.
Some Closing Thoughts
We all make mistakes and stupid things like setting a 1-2-3-4 password for our email box. We feel envy. Jealousy. Anger. Fear. And every now and then we want to hit our spouse in the face. Such type of feelings are quite normal. After all, we’re not born perfect and aiming for perfection is absurd.
On the other hand, we can clearly outline the moments we’re good citizens of the world. When we help the people around and when we strive to make the world a better place.
While the second – being good – statement is the one you should aim for, you can’t escape from your bad, restless behavior possessing you from time to time. The one inspired by the black wolf. But as I mentioned, every now and then, you need to summon these forces to get out of a certain situation. Still, as long as these seemingly bad qualities are channel towards something good for yourself and for the people around you.