Feeding the Two Wolves
Group size: 5 - 50
Purpose: increase awareness, recognition of how beliefs, thoughts, and actions either propel us forward or backward.
- Feeding the Two Wolves story – can be copied as a handout or projected on a screen.
- Prep time needed: 5 minutes
- Directions: Facilitator will read “Feeding the Two Wolves” story, or have a group member read the story.
- Activity: 10 – 20 minutes, with discussion.
- Debrief: 10 minutes; may be more with larger group size.
- The activity can be accomplished in any setting: individual or group setting.
- Participants may be seated in a classroom style set-up or gathered around in a circle
- Have participants find a seat or gather together – they may be seated in classroom style or round circle group.
- Explain the purpose of the activity
- Read Facilitators Script and The Story of the Two Wolves
Facilitator script: “Alright everyone come and have a seat. I wanted to share a story with you today. It is a wise old tale known as the story of the two wolves. There once was a wise old grandfather Joe and his young grandson Johnny walking through the woods. The grandson was going on about his experiences in school and how he sometimes struggles to listen to the teacher and get his homework done on time. Grandfather Joe listened patiently to all the struggles little Johnny was experiencing. Johnny was complaining that he just didn't understand why he was always getting into trouble. Then all of a sudden they came across a clearing. Grandpa Joe put his hand out to stop Johnny in his tacks.
Johnny looked up to see in the clearing that there were these two wolves in the process of a showdown. They were snarling at each other and it looked like at any moment they would pounce into an epic battle. Little Johnny looked with fascination and Grandpa Joe took the moment to explain the scene to little Johnny. Grandpa Joe said, you know we have this same scene going on within us every day. The dark wolf is our anger, resentment, lies, superiority, pride, and shame. This wolf only seeks to hurt us and all those around us. This wolf is also known as the voice of our addiction and it seeks to take us down.
The other wolf is the light wolf. It is happy, joyous, and free. It is hopeful, serene, humble, kind, generous, faithful, and authentic. This wolf only seeks to help us and those around us. This can also be known as the voice of recovery and it seeks to lift us up.
Little Johnny listened deeply to Grandpa Joe as he watched the scene unfold in front of him. As the tension mounted both inside Johnny as well as between the two wolves in the clearing he turned to Grandpa Joe and said, which one will win? And Grandpa Joe smiled and said, Whichever one you feed.
You see we feed the wolves through every action we take. We feed the wolves through every thought and belief we have. When we do the right thing, we feed the light wolf and when we don't we feed the dark wolf. Every time we go to a meeting, call a sponsor, reach out and ask for help, we strengthen the light wolf while starving the dark one. Every choice we make and every step we take feeds a wolf. It us up to us to ask moment to moment which one am I feeding.
- What was your experience as you listened to the story?
- What thoughts were you aware of?
- What are some of the challenges one faces about feeding one wolf compared to the other?
- What might be getting in your way when you look at the bigger picture?
- What are the pros and cons of feeding each wolf?
- Which wolf are you feeding?
- What are two small steps you will focus on to strengthen you recovery and wellness?
Recovery / Wellness Metaphor: Clients who are struggling with their addiction or mental illness, and even those in early recovery, can sometimes experience an internal battle of negative versus positive thinking. From a change perspective, there is a belief that we attract that which we focus on. When one is only focused on the negative, it can lead to a gloomy outlook and feelings of hopelessness. On the contrary, when we help others focus on the positive, we give them permission or an opportunity to consider all possibilities.
Role of Facilitator: Take time to debrief the story with participants, helping them explore their perceptions or thinking errors that may keep them off track from their recovery. Explore with participants their challenges, what is useful to support their recovery, wellness or desired outcomes, and what is not; and what may keep them stuck by holding on to their challenges versus letting go. Also explore with them what they may need to embrace their perceived challenges or thinking errors, and possibly gain an openness of acceptance or surrender. By moving from being stuck in one’s challenges to embracing their possibilities, participants can explore what is needed to surrender in order to move forward.Gradually move to small steps, easily achievable, to help group participants see success in one small step at a time.
Variations: this can be accomplished in individual sessions or given as homework.
Reference: The Story of Two Wolves is adapted from Virtues from Live, http://www.virtuesforlife.com/two-wolves/