An Appetite for Folklore

Oh, the battles we wage…inside.

I once saw a meme that read:

Wolf soulI’m not so sure I’d describe my soul as “difficult,” but I take conflicts that arise there seriously. I try to use all my coachy, self-help techniques to evolve into a “better person,” whatever that may mean.

There is a distinct possibility I’m using my soul as a canvas, splashing pretty colours, making mistakes and gessoing over them again. Just waiting, hoping a worthy masterpiece will emerge. (click to Tweet).

There’s a tale I occasionally share when I work with leadership groups. This week, I’ve told it twice to artists, so I maybe I need a broader audience. Here it goes…

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside of people, even him.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is angry, envious, jealous, sorrowful, regretful, greedy, arrogant, full of self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joyful, peaceful, loving, hopeful, serene, full of humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then he asked, “Grandfather which wolf wins?…”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

The one I feed.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my own hungry wolves. The choice is mine which to feed. Sometimes, even knowing the consequences, I wander off the beaten path, into the thick of the woods and pitch a fine rib roast squarely in the slobbering jaws of the mean and evil wolf. Oh, how it feasts with delight! It becomes stronger, robust and is able to exert its power over the good wolf.

Sometimes I am a little wiser and remember to give the lion’s share to the good wolf. Things usually go well when I nurture the good wolf. He, in turn, protects me.

Consider yourself in the following circumstances. What is the outcome when the good wolf is in charge, verses the bad wolf? Their voices are quite different.

  • You are analyzing your work
  • You need encouragement to build a strong business
  • You seek courage to take risks
  • The outcome of a venture is unexpected
  • People you meet, perhaps difficult people, require your grace
  • You focus on gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given
  • You must patiently wait for an anticipated outcome
  • Others need the generosity of your time or resources

How do these situations vary given which wolf is being fed? How would the outcome be different if you fed only the good “wolf?” Could you even do that? It’s something to think about.

I, for one, am putting the ugly wolf on a diet. Lately, he’s a bit of a butterball (click to Tweet). If I do it right, maybe I can starve him, weaken him, cage him, enslave him…whoops, I think I went over the line. Well, awareness is the first step.

Feed your instincts!




Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

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11 Replies to “An Appetite for Folklore”

  1. I’m battling my bad wolf on one project and encouraging my good wolf on another. One of the projects is a commission and fills me with all sorts of doubts! The other a grand project that will be sent out for a juried show. You’ve given me a lot to think about Michelle! I will try to focus more positive thoughts to the commission project since I will have a result (sale) sooner than my larger project. I will keep the elder Cherokee’s words in my mind, rather than all of the negative thoughts! Thanks for your valuable insight!

    1. Commissions can be challenging, Deborah. For a lot of people, they are a way to feed the bad wolf. You’ll do a great job, and everyone will be happy, I’m sure. Let the good wolf work on that one a bit. I’m so happy you liked the post! ~m

  2. Michelle rocks! Top three for me:
    1. People you meet perhaps difficult people, require your grace
    2. Others need the generosity of your time or rescources.
    3. The outcome of a venture is expected

    Thanks for your selfless acts of encourage & support!

  3. Dear,
    She wolf is supportive looks after cubs, protects and feed them. He wolf is many times aggressive. In every male and female both wolfs exist. You as beautiful lady with artistic hair style and gentle lady is not only intelligent but guide people.
    Your philosophical understanding of Human beings is to be appriciated.
    As anthropologist I paint wild life and human beings. On getting opportunity I will show some of my post cards and paintings.

    1. Thank you for your post, Om Joshi. I sometimes feature artists’ work on my blog – with their permission, of course. If you feel there is something you would like to share, I will consider it if it fits my topic. You can submit it though the contact page. Be well.

  4. I read a lot and most of it doesn’t stick with you. I read this on Friday and I can’t stop thinking about my two wolves. Thank you for posting such a powerful story.

    1. Thank you for the praise, Cynthia. If it makes you stop and think, I feel like I have done my job. I’m glad this one has legs for you. Feed the four legs that nourish you…:)

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