Something to Think About

Good Wolf / Bad Wolf

A traditional Native American story describes a boy who was feeling angry and upset at an injustice, who goes to his old Grandfather for advice. The Grandfather tells the boy that he, too has felt these feelings of hate and anger. The Grandfather shares that he has also realized how these feelings have no effect on his enemy, but they do cause him great pain.

“It is as if I have two wolves living inside me,” says the Grandfather. “One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.”

“But the other wolf,” Grandfather continues, “fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. The smallest thing will send him into a fury. He cannot think because his anger and rage are so great; however for all its fury, his anger changes nothing.

“Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looks into his Grandfather’s eyes and asks, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

His grandfather replies, “Whichever one I feed.”

Kevin B. Burk

Have you experienced these wolves inside of you? If not, I congratulate you. For myself, I have certainly made friends with both of them. Over time, I too have come to realize that the angry wolf harms ME, and does not harm my “enemy”. Even if I act upon the angry wolf’s recommendations, my actions seem to hurt me more than they hurt someone else. On the other hand, the Good Wolf soothes me and makes me better able to handle the problems I face. Which one do I feed? I work to always feed the good wolf.

One of the significant truths that I have come to believe is that a lack of forgiveness can keep anger alive in us.  It keeps us angry, it raises our blood pressure, and it makes us less likely to handle everyday problems with grace and dignity. We tend to hold on to our unforgiveness, believing that holding on to that unforgiveness somehow harms the “enemy”. In my experience, holding on to that unforgiveness really harms me, while at the same time my “enemy” may not even be aware of (or care about) my unforgiveness. I’ve come to believe that it really boils down to a simple choice: Do I want to live my life with internal peace and daily enjoyment, or do I want to hold on to and act on my unforgiveness? If I want internal peace and daily enjoyment, I need to let go of the anger, the sense of injustice, and my unforgiveness. I can’t have inner peace and unforgiveness at the same time.

Secondly, many people I have talked to relate an experience of feeling like a doormat when they consider simply forgiving their “enemy”. In truth, extending forgiveness does not mean we should forget. In reality, in our state of forgiveness, we can still make daily choices about who we want to associate with, and who we will trust. If we need to protect ourselves or others, we can do so without the sense of inner rage that can accompany unforgiveness. Our protective action can simply be a responsible action that results from our desire to take care of our individual selves and others.

Lastly, I think that this holds true not only on a personal level, but also holds true for society as a whole.  Does that serve us well, or simply keep us from living a life of inner and outer peace?

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. “


Something to think about……

October 16, 2009 - Posted by | Anger, Forgiveness | ,


  1. its true that somethings in life happen’s for a reason, I work for a network provide company and I got to know about this story through a customer I was helping out with her phone, because she had a wolf as her wall paper and I asked her why and she related the story to… I then log on the internet and read the story myself
    Before I read the story I was so bitter and I had a big fire of anger burning inside because of certain events that took place at work, home and in my relationship but after I read the story, I realised that the very same people that hurt me are not even awear of the anger I have inside that’s hurting so bad. Truth is they don’t even care less about how I left…. I then dust of myself and on with a smile life went on because really the pain was just eating inside and it was hurting me more… I chose my wolf… But have?

    Comment by Nthabiseng | May 9, 2012 | Reply

  2. I thank you for creating this. I was searching for this story as told by someone else (Joel Osteen). I just wanted to point out that the story, as I heard it, was a little different and that made all the difference (also see Robert Frost poem ‘The Road Less Traveled.’)

    If you make the wolves in the story simply good and bad, instead of angry and not angry, you will be able to convey the real human battle within for all of us; a battle that many of us do not recognize. A constant subtle ploy by “bad” to undermine our “good.”
    I hope this is helpful.

    You might want to check out Ester and Jerry Hicks as great resources to help all of us connect with our inner self.

    Please feel free to continue this at

    May knowledge and inner peace,
    Johnny Appleseed

    Comment by Johnny Appleseed | February 24, 2013 | Reply

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