Infertility – Are You Feeding the Good Wolf or the Evil Wolf?
The story below has been attributed to different Native American tribes, usually agreed upon as Cherokee. I’m including a link below for one that felt most authentic to me.
Tale of Two Wolves
ONE EVENING, AN ELDERLY
CHEROKEE BRAVE TOLD HIS
GRANDSON ABOUT A BATTLE THAT
GOES ON INSIDE PEOPLE.
HE SAID "MY SON, THE BATTLE IS
BETWEEN TWO 'WOLVES' INSIDE US ALL.
ONE IS EVIL. IT IS ANGER,
ENVY, JEALOUSY, SORROW,
REGRET, GREED, ARROGANCE,
SELF-PITY, GUILT, RESENTMENT,
INFERIORITY, LIES, FALSE PRIDE,
SUPERIORITY, AND EGO.
THE OTHER IS GOOD.
IT IS JOY, PEACE LOVE, HOPE SERENITY,
HUMILITY, KINDNESS, BENEVOLENCE,
TRUTH, COMPASSION AND FAITH."
THE GRANDSON THOUGH ABOUT
IT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN ASKED
"WHICH WOLF WINS?..."
THE OLD CHEROKEE SIMPLY REPLIED,
"THE ONE THAT YOU FEED"
How Does This Apply To Infertility? And Why?
Because that’s the question that I normally ask myself when something intrigues me; how does this question or quandary affect those of us struggling with fertility problems? Here’s the reason that I apply it all to fertility- because I believe we can figure out our entire lives when we start to see a pattern, when we see how we handle life’s riches and life’s sorrows.
Whether it is infertility, the death of a loved one, a crushing disappointment or a betrayal that touches you deep to your soul. How do we handle it, which wolf do we feed, and how much? How about when we are feeling blessed? Do we see it, feel it, and touch it? Wander around, joyfully reveling in it? Do we skimp on feeding the wolf then?
I would switch it up, this story, just a little bit.
First, what are those things that are listed? Are they emotions? Or character attributes or moral traits? Or all of the above?
I see them as part and parcel of the human condition. We feel those things, so they are emotions, maybe. They flow in and flow out, not always staying for long or taking firm hold. Some, we hold onto and strive for and they become a core way in which we see the world. We experience all of them, all that is described in this moving poem. At some point or another, in some large measure or some small measure, each and every one of us experiences all those emotions listed. Even when it’s just the tiniest bit or the most unshakeable piece of our belief system.
Evil, on the other hand, to me, is a judgment; that somehow we are bad if we experience those feelings listed that we should not feed. Good is also a judgment and, I might add, can contribute to an out of control ego when not carefully checked. If I only feel those good feelings, only acknowledge the good wolf, am I better than you? And doesn’t that feed the evil wolf- adding to the superiority and ego?
And if all those emotions are felt by all of us, at some time or another, can’t we have enough respect for ourselves and each other to drop the judgment about them? Can we consider that feeling jealous is perhaps a normal and natural reaction to seeing someone else achieving what we have been wanting for ourselves, what we have been striving for and that is eluding us?
Take self-pity. Perhaps not what we are all hoping to achieve, certainly not on a daily basis. Still, couldn’t it be considered a normal and natural response to being disappointed over and over and over again? Is it ok for us to feel it and acknowledge it for one minute but not five? Or one day but not one month? Is it truly not ok for us to feel ever? Not even for a moment?
I’m all for feeding the good wolf.
To be truly compassionate though, let’s save some for the evil wolf. He’s in there too, for a reason. And when he rears his head, he reminds us of our own humanity, humility and empathy. What we are capable of and what we can choose.
We are more than enough when we are human. Sometimes compassionate, sometimes greedy, sometimes loving and sometimes insensitive.
We all do the best we can, at any given moment.
Infertility can teach us which wolf is being fed at any given moment. And our compassion towards ourselves needs to be fed at all times.
Thank you for feeding yourself. Your whole self. Your true self.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.