The Wolves We Feed…

You’ve probably heard that old parable about the Native American grandfather who is talking to his grandson. He tells the boy that there are two wolves inside each and every one of us, a light wolf and a dark wolf. They regularly do battle inside a person’s heart. The boy asks, “Which one is stronger, Grandfather?” The elder man replies, “The one you feed.”

I’ve been thinking about this story a lot lately, as I have been wrestling with my inner wolves and trying to decide which one to feed. The obvious answer should be the “Light wolf”, because that would seem to be logical if I want the “Light” to win. But life is not always as clear cut as black and white, good and evil, light and dark. There are always those damned infinite shades of grey…

We always have a choice which wolf to feed, but I’ve also found that the Dark wolf tends to be cunning – it can snatch the food from the Light wolf without us even ever being aware of it. It’s possible to subconsciously feed the Dark wolf and it gets stronger.

I’m using the analogy regarding behavior. Behavior gets reinforced by the choices we make, most of the time. But there are also behaviors which are so ingrained and so…’internalized’, for lack of a better word, that they are subconscious – they can become a habit, and before you know it, you’re back to repeating the same mistakes and doing the same negative behavior almost without realizing it.

The problem comes when you recognize it for what it is, and yet still feel compelled toward the negative behavior anyway.  This is where I am at the moment. I can see how feeding the Dark wolf would just be reinforcing behavior I have worked very hard to overcome. But, at the same time, by feeding it, I will get answers to something I want very desperately to know.

I don’t do well with unresolved problems – they fester inside and eventually drive me batshit. So I usually find a way to solve the problem. This time, I know the way to solve the problem, but it involves feeding that Dark wolf. If the end result is peace of mind, can it be justified? Do the ends ever justify the means? I recently told a good friend that people (myself included) are very good at justifying something if they want it badly enough…and if you have to justify it, it’s probably not something you should be doing in the first place. I whole-heartedly believe this.

My intention is good – set my mind at peace and move past it by granting myself knowledge. The action to get that knowledge is not good. Which is more important – right intention or right action? In all my studies, they are equally important. But I am still conflicted. Perhaps the feeling will subside in awhile, although I know better. For me, anyway, it sure does seem like the wolf you starve is the one that howls the loudest, and as perverse as that is, I don’t know why that should be the case.

Have you ever been so conflicted? How did you decide which wolf to feed?

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About dragonkatet

Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.
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15 Responses to The Wolves We Feed…

  1. Ash says:

    Very true!

  2. booguloo says:

    I ask myself is the karma worth the effort. The answer is normally no because there is no such thing as a small sin. A sin is what it is…

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks for the comment, M. I think we all have to find our own answer(s) to that question, and everyone’s answer will be different. Is it worth it? I suppose the answer depends on how “long-term” your scope is. If you believe in karma, then you know that one doesn’t do good or evil in order to ‘get’ something in return. Karma is both action and thought, and humans have a very limited understanding of everything that makes up the Divine (or God, if you prefer). But if you take a long view of how your own actions and thoughts will affect your future (i.e. not just in this life, but in those which follow), then whatever ‘effort’ you expend now may be reaped in this lifetime OR a future one. If it is only ‘worthy’ to you if you can experience the results of it in this lifetime, then perhaps it would not seem worth the effort…

      As for sin being sin, regardless of the nature of it, I again would say that it depends on the person and their individual belief(s) regarding “sin” and whether or not they take a “sensible” or “intelligible” view of morality.

  3. wightrabbit says:

    An interesting dilemma, Corina and one which you will probably have solved by now. But your words have made me think. I have been revisiting forgotten territory recently and fell into negative ways of thinking, prompted by another’s selfish actions at a time when my spiritual defences were unguarded. It shocked me how judgemental and arrogant my thoughts about this person became, the instant I felt under attack. As I allowed the drama to work itself out, I gained so much clarity on past events which have shaped my thoughts and feelings about myself for over twenty years. Far~reaching, myth~busting revelations! What a huge relief! Now I am moving through those false, negative beliefs. And I am grateful to her for unknowingly being the catalyst which brought these buried emotions to the surface, allowing me to process them, in the light of what I now know to be MY truth. At the time I didn’t have the choice about whether to embrace my dark wolf or turn him, empty, from my door. And, as you say, the more I tried to ignore him, the louder he howled (interesting that I naturally assume the dark wolf is male!) So I gave in to self pity, self righteousness etc. and wrote and wrote and wrote about my feelings, until the truth smacked me in the face. And it was the complete opposite of what I’ve feared for two decades. I believe this is a clearing time, when dark thoughts surface to be dealt with, once and for all. And then our light can shine! With deep gratitude for your amazing insights, Jacqueline 🙂

    • dragonkatet says:

      Why, thank you, J! Any insights I may have provided have certainly been hard-won, as, like you, I have had to have them hit me square in the face after much hard work of trying to process negative emotions and tough moments in life (or “opportunities for growth” as I look at them now, haha). The Dark Wolf/Light Wolf idea is not mine, but it sparked something inside and gave me an “Aha!” moment which I felt compelled to share.

      I have found that it is a never-ending process to be aware of one’s ego and try to stay out of the Ego-cage. Staying mindful can be a constant challenge in this day and age, although I do think it becomes easier with habit and practice. 🙂 I’m SO happy that you have come to a place of clarity and understanding and can move past the darkness and into the light. Thank you for taking the time to read and leave such a thoughtful comment.

  4. born79 says:

    wow! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog. I personally am destroying myself as i can’t let go of a past hurt that happened 5 years ago. It just goes round and round in my head and it’s not getting better. I wish i knew how, and i can’t seem to “forgive” or “just get over it” as I’ve been told.
    Glad you both have figured it out, it gives me hope. Thank you.

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks for reading, born79. I know from personal experience just the type of situation you are talking about. When you get stuck in a “loop” like that, it can be the hardest thing in the world to get your mind on something else. You may not EVER “forgive” or “get over it”. That’s the thing. But you CAN get past dwelling on it. You need to experience whatever it is you are feeling and deal with/process it in your own time, in your own way. We all process those feelings differently. The trick, I think, is to find something ELSE to focus on. If you are continually focused on the past, you will never have the energy or resources to appreciate your present or future. The past is gone. Period. You cannot change it, no matter how many tears you cry or how many times you replay scenarios or situations in your head, it still won’t change what has already happened. The only thing you are doing is keeping yourself stuck in the emotion(s) and that will not help you. One thing that really helped me, was when someone asked me to think about what I was getting out of it. What are you getting out of dwelling on the past? Is it staying stuck in a ‘victim’ mode so you can feel sorry for yourself indefinitely (not saying that is what it is for you, but that was a big part of it for me)? What’s your motivation for staying stuck? It takes time and some deep soul-searching to find the answers, but I promise you that you can beat this. 🙂 Best of luck!

  5. eebrinker says:

    i don’t know — for me, it’s almost TOO hard to be mean. so i end up backing down or being too passive, when i should have stood up for myself.

    as far as ‘doing wrong’ or wanting something wrong — i don’t deal w/that. amazing how much of those necessities go away when you aren’t living with anyone else. because then i decide what is right for me and i do it. if something is bad for me or wrong for me, i weigh the benefits minus whatever fallout or effect. in moral cases that effect other people, i side for others unless there is too much damage possible for me.

    and so why my biggest prob is in confrontation and knowing how to act/react. if you back down, you spare another person (even if they don’t deserve to be spared). but then carry that like resentment, which you aren’t doing THEM favors then, to build your own resentment to that person. (and of course those feelings will come out at other times in passive-aggressive ways which can often be worse than a direct confrontation).

    but far as a dark wolf and a white wolf …….. nope. i just don’t see it that way. even if something ‘wrong’ is done for that time frame or situation — then to ‘change’ that ‘wrong-doing’ would mean i would have to change the parameters of the situation first. AND the person i was at the time of the incident. which would be impossible because i am now the person who is post-incident, not pre-incident.

    i don’t have wolves. i have changing colors and lights — worlds of form, shape, and resolution. whole “wolf-thing” — what are doing is talking about judging yourself BEFORE committing an act. and so much of the time a continuing “judgement” is for ends that have not happened yet. so how can i judge them NOW? something that seemed wrong at the time might come in handy down that road.

    i have faith that good intent will create good ends. or rather good intent with a few brains thrown in have a better shot at creating elements that benefit everyone. all can hope for. don’t worry about how you see yourself. worry about whether the future is better or worse. and sometimes we need the freedom just for freedom’s sake. don’t forget that. only you know where you are — only you know the ground beneath your feet and the best way to get a step in front of another.

    keep hope above all things. that would be my advice. an instinct and a tool, hope is the one thing that never leaves your side. if you want to call it the white wolf, call it the white wolf. but there is no opposite to hope. there is no black wolf — some things don’t move forward and backward. they only move outward, when inward is death.

    do we sometimes feed despair? yes — but that is a different path. not a reflection in opposites of the right path. if you see a different trajectory as always something that’s opposite, well that’s how you start a spin. don’t you think it’s because we’re bi-lateral creatures? i think it’s because we are bi-lateral and have this perception of conformity as NECESSITY in the prospects of reflective sides. when life isn’t like that. i was thinking the other day, how i escaped a LOT on that, by having moles. have a large mole on my left hand, that always clearly marked it separate from the right. same way with my face. i have a large mole on the right side of my nose. and i wonder about how that effects my perception, and how dualities are processed.

    whenever see Jazz-kitty in the mirror, always sort of takes me aback. because it looks like a different cat entirely. have you ever used a webcam like a “correct” mirror? flips the reflection so that are actually looking at what other people see. it’s sort of a trippy thing. but anyway ……… do what you think will make for the better course in the long run. that’s usually the more solid action. finding a corresponding “wrong” does not make an action ‘right.’ and declaring something as the ‘right’ thing to do is not proven right in the ends by the road NOT taken.

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment, Eileen. 🙂 You make several good points. It IS a lot different when it’s just you that you have to consider and may make it an easier choice for not having to take anyone else’s feelings into account. The moral problems should be easy, especially when considering another person, but you’re right, too, that it’s not always simple black and white wolves. What if the other person never knows about the action and doesn’t get hurt? If it’s still erring on the ‘dark side’ (for want of a better description), isn’t it still wrong? Like the ‘white lie’, it’s still a lie, so is it wrong, even if it keeps a person from being hurt?

      You’re spot-on about judgment. And I agree with you about setting oneself up for judgment before-hand, and not taking into account differing circumstances. However, I also think it comes back to standards – if we hold high standards/morals for ourselves, then we are not as likely to accept others who consistently flout them, and therefore, are less likely to accept toxic or bad-for-us behavior from others. Yes, the circumstances play a vital part, and you’re right that those are always changing. So, what may be a good decision today may not be tomorrow. But do the morals change that much? I don’t think so…so if you use a moral standard as a baseline, you can almost predict what you would do in any given circumstances (judging it to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ by your current morals).

      It’s true about the spin, too. I had not thought of it in that context, but I can see that it’s true. Perhaps it is because we are dual-natured and bi-lateral creatures, as you say. That makes sense. I’ve never used a webcam in that manner but you make me curious about it now! 🙂

      Thanks for the good advice, re: hope and just doing the best I can at the moment, with what I have. I suppose judging it in hindsight will reveal whether or not it was a “right action”. I want to agree with you that it’s the “intent” that matters, but when it comes to other people, all they can really “see” is the action…even if the intent is explained, I think in the end, it’s the ‘action’ that counts, because that’s what affects the outcome in real life.

      • eebrinker says:

        well that is why you have to have an intent that is consistent. if one has a consistent intent and corresponding actions that speak of care and concern, then others will asume first that a action is still from a point of concern. which when you keep those consistent intents, proves true and creates those foundations of trust.

        the bi-lateral was something i was working on at the time, and worked that into the conversation as a tangent. you know how that is — though does apply in some respects. time for breakfast, had my morning workout tromping through the new snow 🙂

      • eebrinker says:

        “AN action” ………… see, i really need that spam and eggs …. !!!

  6. There was a time that I overfed the Dark wolf, I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t do otherwise, I didn’t even feel guilty, I just wanted to get rid of every bad thing inside me as soon as possible and by crossing to the dark side of behavior I found solutions and answers, and sort of a temporary peace.
    But then, overfeeding that wolf … day by day, the wolf eventually died from a heart attack/ too much fat/ and the day that happened it was the worst day of my life, because I realized what I’ve done and how much I was wrong and being oversensitive person, believe me it was not a good feeling …
    Now I try to stay on the Light side no matter what! Sometimes relatives of the dead Dark wolf come and search for a way in and I have my own little battles, but in general the only dark things that I let in are the darkness of the night and dark chocolate 🙂
    It’s complicated when there is a storm of confused feelings inside your mind, the winds are so strong that you barely manage to stay on your own feet, not to talk about taking the right decisions. We all let a bit of darkness in our days, justified or not … There was some saying, can’t quote precisely, but something about Lightness being felt and appreciated much better, after we’ve been way too long in the dark … I guess we all let the bad wolf overtake our emotions. Some keep him forever, but some see light at the end of the tunnel, eventually!
    Mind provoking piece, Corina! I totally enjoyed reading and commenting!

    • dragonkatet says:

      🙂 Thanks, Blaga. I’m glad to know that you walk with the Light Wolf much more often these days. You are so right that the battle comes to us all, in one form or another. I cannot claim credit for the idea, nor the photo, but I think it is a good thing to step back and weigh one’s ideas vs. one’s ideals and see how closely they mesh (i.e. take a mental inventory of where one is vs. where one wants to be). It’s also very true about being able to appreciate the light so much more after an extended stay in the darkness. But, Eileen was also right that we can’t always frame everything in light vs. dark, or good vs. evil – some decisions have a little of both, and so they qualify as a “Grey Wolf” – makes me wonder if it’s possible to over-feed the “Grey Wolf”, too, and live in constant anxiety and indecision? Anyway, thank you for coming by and taking the time to read and comment! I’m at your place right now, drinking in your latest creations! 🙂

      • I know people who are constantly on the Grey side of things. With me there isn’t grey, when it comes to decisions. I’ve always been like this- there is either “yes” or “no” side, “good” or “bad” …I go crazy with all this “anxiety and indecision” thing… maybe that’s why I’m here where I am right now 🙂 but I guess we all learn with time!

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