I was inspired recently watching the movie Tomorrowland and wanted to learn more about the Cherokee story about the Two Wolves. I love the story but learned that what appears in the movie is only piece of the actual story that was passed down by Native American Cherokee elders. In fact, the ending of the original story is quite different from the shortened version, and it has quite a different message to teach, as well.
Check out this video which explains the full Cherokee story of the Two Wolves.
The full story gives us something far more substantial and rich. It touches closer to our full experience as human beings. The shortened story is simpler and easier to digest for the Hollywood big screen; and it’s an easy, positive message to relay across the internet in the quick sound bytes of our short-attention-span tech-driven world. Our culture values quick hits of positive feelings or fast laughs, and in this case we miss a deeper, more profound and valuable lesson. The full message provides a roadmap for how to be authentic despite all the competing emotions that are a reality for us.
But check it out. If we only listen to the first message, clearly we want to feed the white wolf. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t really tell us what to do with the black wolf. What do we do with the negative feelings, the raw energy, the urges and lusts? Yes, we can try to ignore them. Doing so suppresses all that energy and over time we spend more and more energy to keep that stuff tucked away, hidden beneath the surface. But it’s still there, in perpetual search of an outlet. We can’t eradicate it from our minds. I’m no psychologist but maybe if a person finds themselves unable contain the negative energy it occasionally discharges in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways? Think about the recent terrible mass shootings, and how the perpetrator’s friends are always surprised that person was capable of so horrific an act. Or on a far smaller level think about the sources of road rage and bar fights and “going postal”. I can’t help wondering what happens to negative energy when we suppress it.
The original Cherokee message provides gives us something more to work with. It is a clear and helpful message for people who want to live their lives genuinely. Be willing to acknowledge the darker feelings exist and they are a part of you. We can inspect and be curious about them without indulging them. If we are willing to coexist with them, they won’t be constantly vying for our attention. There will be no eruptive pressure because they won’t be contained in the first place. The easiest way to avoid expending energy to suppress negative feelings, is to not suppress them in the first place.