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Starve your wolf

Embracing discomfort.


There’s an old tale, usually attributed to the Native Americans, which is possibly and likely erroneously attributed to them but I’m unsure of the validity and accuracy of the origin, and it's likely one you’ve heard or read of at least once, it's often used.

But the metaphorical tale is nonetheless still valuable.

It is a story about a young boy talking with a wise elder, and the wise man tells the boy,


“There is a battle raging inside of me between two wolves.

One is fear, anger, hate, jealousy, envy, self-pity, lies, ego and the negative traits we all carry.

The other wolf is the embodiment of all the positive traits we are all capable of.

Peace, love, joy, hope, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, faith and kindness.

Both wolves are in a continuous back-and-forth battle. The battle is not just within me, but in us all.”


The boy looks to the elder and questions

“But which wolf will win?”


“The one you feed.” Replied the elder.


Now, I’m likely doing a disservice to the original apocryphal tale, but I wanted to use it, and a quick version at that, to begin this post with how we battle with our minds every day.

See, our minds are constantly seeking ease if we allow it.

The ‘bad’ wolf is always in search of comfort.

It’s easy to gossip. It's comforting to sit alongside a pal and talk negatively of someone bettering themselves when we feel guilty for not applying ourselves with more vigour. The jealous feelings sit just right with the bad wolf. The self-pity provides us validation for our struggles and failings and comparisons. But it hurts later. It costs us with how we feel about ourselves.


But if we listen to the good wolf and allow ourselves to interrupt the flow of a companion talking ill of a mutual friend, prevent the gossip and instead talk positively and proudly, we can feel good for others' successes.


If we listen to the bad wolf when we are facing a fearful moment, and instead of taking action, we cower away behind excuses, never willing to expose ourselves, then we will create more fear within us that destroys our self-image.

Yet, if we face the fear, irrelevant of the outcome, win or lose, we will be filled with pride and confidence the next time. Creating a stronger ‘good’ wolf.


But the elder in the tale is certainly correct with his belief.

The one you feed is the one that wins.

And this is why the act of cold plunge works so well for so many.

That “wolf” crying out not to do it, not to submerge in the icy water, is the same wolf that tells you negative stories about yourself, that sabotages all your willingness to succeed.


Meditation offers us similar benefits, albeit with possibly more difficulty.

Sitting still and alone with our thoughts, or possibly the bad wolf for many of us, can be extremely difficult.

To quieten the mind and sit still for fifteen minutes whilst doing nothing except breathing can cause our mind to shout at us to move. Distractions popping up in our thoughts, that voice in the back of our minds telling us to quit.

But this is where we can starve the wolf if we build up our resilience. If we can face against the chatter as we aim to stay still and keep bringing our focus back to our breath.

If we can bring ourselves to stay submerged in the icy water as our wolf is screaming to get out, each time we do, he gets weaker and weaker.

Each time we say we’ll do longer because you’re asking for less, our good wolf gets fed as the bad one starves.


Seeking to be comfortable with being uncomfortable will really help to quieten that wolf, or those inner demons that cause us so much pain.

Have the uncomfortable conversations, sit in the uncomfortable heat or ice and sit quietly with nothing to do as your mind aims to distract you.


Choose something that will help and build upon it.

Starve your bad wolf.







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