A Native American story may be helpful in thinking about the violence we are exposed to in encounters from road rage to horrendous stories we read and watch documented in the media. In the story, a young grandson asks his grandfather why there is so much anger and hatred in the world. The grandfather tells his grandson that there are two wolves on each person’s shoulders. One is full of rage and revenge and the other is full of kindness and compassion. Both are urging the person to act. “But which will win?” asks the grandson. “Whichever one the person feeds,” replies the grandfather.
While many things, including our feelings, may not be under our control, which wolf we feed is. By noticing and monitoring our thoughts, we can decide how they may or may not be serving us and others. Examining thoughts isn’t easy when a way of thinking is “all I have ever known.” It isn’t easy when we are more informed by default group think than by making up our own minds. Nurturing negative thoughts is a choice and a habit. To mix the metaphors, we may not choose what negative thoughts may fly into our heads, but we can choose whether or not to let them make a nest there.