I’m not a mean person, but I have a capacity for it.
A Cherokee grandfather tells his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world. He describes it as two wolves fighting inside a person’s heart, one is vengeful and angry, the other is understanding and kind. When the boy asked which wolf will win, the grandfather responds, “the one I chose to feed”.
I hear stories everyday about large and small cruelties in modern life, which lead to all forms of suffering, and when endured over the long term, chronic illness. Recent indignities I have heard from clients include being excluded from important decisions in the workplace, being denied a much expected promotion, by way of a voicemail, overhearing toxic gossip about ourselves, and being cheated on.
People do things that hurt us and if you are experiencing modern day “slings and arrows”, they need not be corrosive and eat away at you, nor do you need to become the vengeful wolf. How is it possible to feed the right wolf?
It is dependent on our own mental readiness. We can intentionally train ourselves to feed the right wolf when life is unfair or unkind. We are always self-treating any condition with the thoughts we have about it. So why not choose the course of treatment that stems from compassion? As insults hit, we can avoid sending the angry email, reaching for the thing that is bad for us, or acting out, as these don’t provide relief.
Interrupt the usual chain of reaction by making a choice, a commitment to let go. We can summon our own natural warmth at anytime to more effectively stand up for ourselves, have the difficult conversation or make the hard decision. Taking the slightest gesture towards feeding the right wolf, our highest self, can shift any situation.
You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.