Dr. Jeanne Robertson, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT
Dr. Jeanne is the Director of St. Paul's Center for Counseling & Education
There is a Native American story of a Cherokee elder who was teaching his grandchildren about life.
He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me. it is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents terrible, negative thoughts and feelings: fear, hate, anger, regret, envy, jealousy, lies, greed, self-pity, resentment, and arrogance. The other wolf stands for thoughts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, benevolence, generosity, truth, gentleness, self-control, empathy, and humility.”
And he said to his grandchildren, “This same fight is going on inside you and inside everyone.”
They thought about that for a while, then one child asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
And the wise old Cherokee replied quietly, “The one you feed.”
Perhaps it’s hard to admit that we all feed that negative wolf, but we do. Sometimes we do it more than at other times. Sometimes what we feed it changes. BUT whenever we feed it, the other wolf goes hungry.
Are there ways to starve the negative wolf, (we will never eliminate it) so it is less able to win the continuous fight? Are there ways to feed the positive wolf to give it strength? The more we feed the positive wolf, the more joy we have in our lives.
Common ways to feed the negative wolf includes too much time spent watching the news. Most local and national news is bad news. It is not a true representative of what has actually occurred for the 300 and something million people in America today. There were thousands and thousands of positive events that occurred, but they just don’t sell. One terrible storm strikes and we see days of devastation, yet only one or two clips of people helping. What’s really happening? Thousands of people are helping. They come from all around the country for months and months, but are never seen on the news. Can we deliberately search for the positive? Can we moderate the amount of bad news we take in, how much we feed the wolf? For every act of evil or disaster, there are tens of thousands of positive events each and every day.
Sometimes I watch 10 segments of On the Road with Steve Hartman on YouTube, or CBS Friday Night to get a positive slice of the reality of much of what’s going on in America. It’s just one way to find the positive.
What do you watch on TV or at the movies? Are your selections all violent? Do the bad guys win? What about books? What are we taking in? Are we allowing the external world to feed our negative wolf for us?
Social media can be a boost. It can help people stay connected with family and friends near and far. It can also be an emotional disaster. How much is too much? What’s being said? Which wolf is it feeding?
It’s important to be aware of what areas of our lives feed which wolf. We need to be intentional about what we feed the wolves inside. I come to St. Paul’s every Sunday to feed my positive wolf. It can always use more strength!
Blessings and eat well,
Jeanne Robertson, Ph. D., LMFT, LPC Director, Center for Counseling and Education email@example.com 504-330-2549