Feeding the right wolf
A boy and his grandfather are hanging out. The boy says to his grandfather, How is it you never seem to get upset? Don’t you ever feel angry?
His grandfather replies, I sometimes feel there are two wolves inside me, each of whom fights to tell me what to do. Whenever something angers me, one of the wolves is full of fire, and wants to attack and act nasty. The other is calmer, thinks clearly, and makes better choices. But they’re both always there.
And the boy asks, But if they are always fighting, how do you know which wolf is going to win?
The grandfather answers, the wolf that wins is the one I choose to feed.
Navigating the Wolf Pack
So what wolf do you feed? It’s a powerful question we should ask ourselves so we can look to where the quality of our recovery is . Do you know the difference between the good and the bad wolf, or do you impulsively feed the loudest wolf?
When we are caught up in emotions sometimes it feels impossible not to go with the loudest wolf; the snarling angry wolf is hungry and you are holding the food. The other wolf is the wolf of reason, of right thinking and emotion. He is the highest-self wolf.
Before we choose impulsively, what If we took a step back from the wolves to gain a different vantage point, helping to put things into perspective? Both wolves want to be fed. The wolf that shows up strong and overpowering is usually representative of how we dealt with issues in the past: our go-to wolf. By stepping back we gain perspective as to whether we are making the right or wrong decision, by allowing thoughts to come in and feelings to arise. Sit in those thoughts and play out the story before doing anything. Or, as we would say in 12-step language, pause when agitated or doubtful. Does the story take us into selfishness and self-centeredness? Does it want to put another down in order for us to feel better? Does it take us away from being present in our reality? All of this can be seductive and, depending on our quality of mind, we may even think it’s the right wolf.
Could it be that it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Understanding the wolves, as well as the actions that follow our choices, is one of the biggest keys to nurturing a healthy sobriety. In recovery we start to feel our emotions; sometimes we choose right and sometimes we make the mistake and choose wrong. We don’t always know if it’s a situation like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as we haven’t always been fully present to so many things in our lives.
When we are present, we may feel that it is too hard to be in the emotion if it is strong. We may be so used to self-medicating that life and its choices are too raw to bring in close. We want answers now and we want the situation gone now. If we do not have the right tools and cannot sit in it than what we can do is reach out. So reach out to a counsellor, sponsor, spiritual guide, friend, family member or someone you see is living life right. The gift of sponsorship and mentorship is they have been in the den with their own wolves and have fought the battle. We can learn from others and ask for guidance. They can give us the perspective we need to feed the right wolf.
Sit with the wolves before acting. Sometimes you may be sitting with the whole damn wolf Pack, but sitting with them, getting to know them and seeing what IS before making any decision has helped me immensely in knowing what the right thing to do next is. It really is a practice and we will still make mistakes. When we do, we have choices. Make sure we get the lesson, make amends if needed and move on. We are human and we are doing the best we can. Know that it’s practice and not perfection.
Show up in your life in exactly as you are. The wolves teach us about choices and how to navigate them. Know your wolves and feed when ready. They will not starve so take your time.