The Wolves Within. Wisdom for 2022.

As we enter 2022, I (like many) am thinking of the state our world and committed to continuing to navigate it with some sense of inner calm. I am reminded of The Parable, The Wolves Within also known as The Two Wolves Fable. The parable is a popular legend of unknown origin, sometimes attributed to the Cherokee or Lenape people. It follows in both its original form and in a secondary and less shared version.

Version one: One day a wise elder sits down with his grandson to teach him about life. “A fight is going on inside of me,” he says to the boy. “It’s a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is full of rage, jealousy, arrogance, greed, sorrow, regret, lies, laziness, and self-pity.”

He continues, “The other is good – he is filled with love, joy, peace, generosity, truth, empathy, courage, humility, and faith. This same fight is going on inside the hearts of everyone, including you.”

The grandson thinks about this for a few minutes, and then asks his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?” The wise elder simply replies, “The one you feed.”

Version Two as shared by Dr. Kathleen Allen in her writing The Wolf You Feed Gets Stronger: In essence provides an alternate ending to the fable. In this version the wise elder ends with, “They both win if you feed them right”

“You see, if I starve one wolf, the other will become imbalanced with power. If I choose to feed only the light wolf, for example, the shadow one will become ravenous and resentful. He will hide around every corner and wait for my defenses to lower, then attack. He will be filled with hatred and jealousy and will fight the light wolf endlessly. “

But if I feed both, in the right way, at the right time, they will live side-by-side in harmony. There will be no more inner battle. Instead, there will be inner peace. And when there’s peace, there is wisdom. The goal of life, my son, is to respect this balance of life, for when you live in balance, you can serve the Great Spirit within. When you put an end to the battle inside, you are free.

In our less than perfect world this parable can take on many meanings. I am struck by the secondary ending which always makes me think of the work of Carl Jung and the concept of the shadow self. Jung, a Swiss Psychologist who is often referred to as the Founder of Analytic Psychology, identified the shadow concept as the darker side of human personality. A component he believed we each possess. A place within that holds the aspects of self we do not want to and most often cannot see. He hypothesized that it is an instinctive part of human nature to tuck these unwanted aspects of self away in our psyches only to be projected onto others as a deficit or moral flaw.

In truth, both what we attend to and what we try to deny become stronger. If we can identify and look at the inherent aspects of self-hidden from view (within our shadow self as Jung suggested) we will have no need to project these unwanted (often experienced as shameful) parts of self (feelings, thoughts, experiences, and resulting beliefs) onto others. Within theory, we can then live in balance and gain what the second version of the parable suggest. We can put an end to the (known or unknown) battle inside and, in many ways, the battle that manifest outside of us when accusations, blame, or condemnation of others occurs.

The concept of both wolves winning if fed right, is appealing and captured in the ideology of honoring one’s shadow self. To truly understand ourselves, accept ourselves, and accept others owning what belongs to us is an important ingredient. This comes through listening and placing value on the others perspective and needs. In theory, this seems not only manageable but honorable. In reality, the lack in acceptance and even tolerance of opposing views continues to cause harm in our world today.

There are many theories as to why we need to hide from ourselves. And there are many as to why projection onto others occurs. When looking through the lenses of human attachment, development, and analytical psychology it is understood as defense and at its core an attempt to survive. The sad irony is, this survival strategy can through time lead to destructive forces and the literal ending of self, other, larger society, and even the democracy we have unwittingly believed is solid.

As noted, in the beginning of this article there are many places this paradoxical parable can take us. And there are many factors as to why the darker sides of human nature unfold into larger issues. The internal self (the human shadow) is only one of these issues, but it appears to be a core issue. Further it could be addressed beginning with our most essential societal elements our children and families. There is much research to support that early learning extends through one’s life, filtering into the lives of others and generations to come.

It is a loving and comforting concept to think of wise elders (in the form of informed parents, grandparents, institutions, and governing bodies) who hold the best interest of a balanced self and society (along with all that this implies) as the most important for long-term sustainability.

While this ideology may sound naïve, or much to simplistic, to some, I encourage further research and resulting thought into the human condition intergenerational transmission of belief and behavior, and its implications for our larger world. Additional writings, from Perspective on Trauma, which provide resources for further exploration, include, Ho’Oponopono: Ancient Wisdom for 2021 (January 2021), The Intergenerational Transmission of Belief and its Role in Systemic Racism (May 2021), Shadows Voice: Red Man, Blue Man (November 2020), and/or Collective Pain and Unrest: A Change is Needed. (May 2020). These and additional resources are added in the following section of this article.

As always, I hope you find something that resonates, and spurs further thought. I send you my deepest care and value your presence here on Perspective on Trauma. May your 2022 be full of health, happiness, good experiences and those you love.

LaDonna

Copyright Protected Material: © 2020 LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW. All rights reserved. Written content on this blog (Perspective on Trauma) is the property of the author LaDonna Remy, MSW, LICSW. Any unauthorized use or duplication without written permission of the author/ owner of this web log is prohibited. Excerpts or quotes may be shared in the event the author is fully cited with reference and direction to this blog.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational. It is not intended to provide advice, assessment, treatment, or diagnosis. Content is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, or to engage in an informed treatment relationship within this format. If you or a loved one need support; it is important that you access this care from your own (specifically assigned) health care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the Perspective on Trauma blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. In the event, support is needed it is your responsibility to seek care from your own health-care provider.

National Hotlines: 
Treatment Referral Helpline: (1-877-726-4727)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (1-800-273-8255)

Photo: Image found on Pinterest

Resources

Web Based Resources:

Allen, Kathleen. (July 2020) The Wolf You Feed Gets Stronger. https://kathleenallen.net/the-wolf-you-feed-gets-stronger-2/

Remy, LaDonna. Perspective on Trauma Blog Articles . Perspective on Trauma – Building Perspective on Trauma, Loss, Attachment, Familial Pain, and Moving Forward.

Ho’Oponopono: Ancient Wisdom for 2021 (January 2021) Ho’ Oponopono, Ancient Wisdom for 2021. – Perspective on Trauma

The Intergenerational Transmission of Belief and its Role in Systemic Racism (May 2021) The Intergenerational Transmission of belief and its role in Systemic Racism. – Perspective on Trauma

Shadows Voice: Red Man, Blue Man (November 2020) Shadow’s Voice: Red Man, Blue Man. – Perspective on Trauma

 Collective Pain and Unrest: A Change is Needed. (May 2020) Collective Pain: A Nation in Need of Repair. – Perspective on Trauma

Yeo, Alyssa. (February 2018) The Story of Two Wolves. https://www.urbanbalance.com/the-story-of-two-wolves/

Books:

Jung, Carl G. (2017) Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Harper Collins Publisher, New York. (Original Publication 1933)

40 thoughts on “The Wolves Within. Wisdom for 2022.

  1. Thank you, LaDonna. I’m in process of reading bell hooks’ All About Love, and I think what you’ve written here pairs well and resonates with part of what her message was for that book.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Well documented presentation, based on truth that can be examined and observed! It matters what we believe and some things we believe we do not recognized they come from others. This was very insight. Have a fulfilling New Year and may peace surround you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Until we can face the darkness trauma lives within instead of continuing to project it we are doomed as a society.. I just listened to a long lecture by Donald Kalsched where he addresses how caught we are collectively within a victim complex.. it made a lot of sense.. we need to learn how to sit with that darker side of the wolf and see where healthy action needs to be taken and that may mean containing both our own dark side and that of others if that makes any sense.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do think this makes very good sense. I appreciate your thoughts and insights. We are truly interconnected as people and across time. Our own introspective work is an important component in creating a genuine and lasting change. I will have to listen to Donald Kalsched, and I look forward to doing this. Thank you for this resource. I wish you a happy and healthy 2022.

      Like

  4. Reblogged this on Emerging From The Dark Night and commented:
    The shadow and in particular attachment hunger is very real, we cannot just continue to project it, disown it or become completely possessed by it. We all have a dark and light side.. those who run from and project it end up splitting in their humanity and working through trauma means its that so called dark side of the wolf that may contain much of our necessary and healthy power..

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t know how I missed your post, LaDonna, but what a beautiful parable about the wolf and life. I agree with you 💯 with this statement: “there are many factors as to why the darker sides of human nature unfold into larger issues.” What an insightful and very wise piece you’ve written my friend. I hope many who read your post take this message to heart. It makes us reflect on who we are and what we have become.

    Enjoy the rest of your FANtabulous weekend my friend. I appreciate ya! 😍💖🥰

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Kym. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful comment. We certainly need to look do deeper work to impact the path that seems to be unfolding before us.

      I hope you are well and enjoying a nice start to your Sunday💗.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved learning about this parable, LaDonna. I’ve never heard of it before and it struck such a chord with me. I do find the second version much more appealing, because it is also much more pragmatic and attainable as human beings.

    This is also why I found Jung’s work more appealing than Freud’s work as well. It’s been many moons since I took my psychology courses in school – very basic, not to the same depth that you’ve likely studied – and the concept of the shadow self always seems intriguing to me.

    It’s also why I think these times were in are so depressing. No one can disagree anymore and it is so divisive. Both sides are feeding on each other without trying to find common ground and balance. And a larger and darker force is pinning both sides against each other, feeding on the chaos. It’s such a scary time to be in.

    Hopefully we’ll all find a way out of this as a society and learn to live more harmoniously.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ab, thank you for this insightful and reflective comment. Listening and reflecting are truly what we need more of right now (and always). It is a strange and as you say scary time we are in.

      It sometimes feels like the importance of communication and critical thinking have been held hostage.

      I do agree with what you have said regarding Jung’s work. His concepts take us deeper, which is where we need to go.

      I appreciate you Ab💗.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you, LaDonna. I appreciate you too and always look forward to your monthly posts! 😊

        Critical thinking is so needed in days like today where we are drowning in information – and disinformation and misinformation – but with very little safeguards. It worries me when my mom gets her beliefs on vaccines from YouTube videos for example. It’s only going to get worse as governments and policies are always light years behind technology acceleration.

        On that happy note, 😂😂😂, have a great rest of your weekend!

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh, how I adore this article, LaDonna. It reminds of the necessity in theory and practice of accepting all aspects of our human beingness. It is interesting to think about this through the lens of attachment and desire, knowing that when we understand our desires, have an awareness about them, and our attachments, understanding how and why they function as they do, we begin, I think, the journey to acceptance of all aspects of ourselves. Inside of the practice of acceptance, the actually daily practice of acknowledging our myriad selves, we set ourselves on a pathway toward possible freedom. Beautiful post, my dear friend. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your insightful reflection Jeff. This is an interesting lens to view the path to true freedom through. It makes sense to me that truly understanding our desires and attachments , whatever form they may take, would require deep introspection into self and would move us toward a more peaceful internal and external experience . I appreciate this thought provoking perspective.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re most welcome, LaDonna. It’s such a pleasure to reflect upon your writing, and to share what comes up. One more thing did arise – I also think the space we are discussing is where compassion lives. It is inside this space, between and among the “two” selves where we truly get to understand being human, thus we then get to understand all human beingness. So much fun to converse with you. Have a wonderful week, my dear friend. ❤️

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you, LaDonna for sharing the engaging story and the informative article. ❤ The current divisions in our society have been very distressing to me…the loss of rationality and civility, denial of science, lies and distortions in the media, racism, the increasing inequality of distribution of wealth, incitement to violence…The parable in your post seems to be a very good analogy for our times.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Very well written, LaDonna. I appreciate how your calm demeanor shines through. The parable is important, and this is a great reminder. My favorite physician, Dr. Zach Bush, says we are a society addicted to conflict. I believe network news feeds that addiction & the hostile, voracious wolf inside. Your articles are worthy of a much wider audience. I do hope you share on additional platforms. All the best to you, my friend. 🌞

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Outstanding post LaDonna, I used to share that story with my students every year and it always had a significant impact. I like how you take it further, diving into the presence of both in all of us and the need for balance. I wrote this week on appetite and how women in particular have traditionally been denied or “starved” from exploring their own appetites! Which at times can be a source of trauma in our lives. Much to think about here, sending love and hugs to you, C

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Such an insightful post, thank you LaDonna! Although you shared a well known parable, through your wonderful writing you have given me so much food for thought. Sending smiles of appreciation your way, may your year overflow with joy, love and peace ❤

    Liked by 2 people

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