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Which Wolf Do You Feed? – A Cherokee Legend
A young boy, angry at a friend who had done him an injustice, went to his wise old grandfather for advice. His grandfather said, “I’ll tell you a story”.
“I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.”
He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offence when no offence was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing. Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”
How do you feed the good wolf?
Whilst most of us don’t intentionally feed the bad wolf do you too often find yourself reacting in ways you regret and then wondering why? The following story might help explain what’s going on in your brain and how hypnotherapy can help change your responses.
How emotional learning was essential for our ancestors’ survival
One day when out hunting with his tribe, your hunter-gatherer ancestor heard a rustle in the grass. Before he could react, a tiger leapt on him, claws digging into his flesh. It was only through the courage and lightning fast reactions of his friends that Brin, heart pounding, pulse racing and sweat pouring off his body, survived to see the animal run off.
Weeks later after his wounds had healed, Brin ventured out with the hunting party once again. Hearing a rustling sound, faster than he could think, with pulse racing and heart pounding, Brin threw himself to the ground. And … nothing. After a while Brin’s body calmed down; realising it was just the wind, he got up and rejoined the hunting party.
Fear, anxiety, anger and hair-trigger responses were essential to keep our ancestors safe in this simple, savage world. It didn’t matter if the primitive, emotional brain, which generalises circumstances to err on the side of caution, sometimes got it wrong and treated a gust of wind as a deadly predator. Better to be safe than sorry because survival is what mattered.
But in our complex, modern world emotional learning from our past can be a real hindrance. For example, if a comment, a tone of voice or a situation reminds you of an earlier unpleasant experience, like Brin hearing the rustle in the grass, you will react from your unpredictable, emotional brain.
Hypnosis can be a very effective way of teaching your brain to learn new resourceful ways of negotiating present reality that are not based on those old hair-trigger emotional responses. And you will be feeding the good wolf!