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There is a Native American parable that says we all have two wolves battling inside of us. One is good and one is bad. Each time we make a choice in our lives, we are feeding one of the wolves. The one that wins is the one you feed. The moral of the story says we should always feed the good wolf. The more we feed the good wolf, the more good we bring into our lives.

While simple, this parable reminds us that we are what we repeatedly do. Whether it’s taking time to read every night or smoking cigarettes every day, those behaviors shape our lives and our identities. But addiction and mental illness can trick us into thinking the bad wolf is really the good wolf. They can trick us into making bad choices that can negatively impact our lives.

Think of it in terms of working out. If I go into the gym and start with 5 lb weights, eventually, if I’m consistent, I can move to 10 lb weights. If I continue to stay consistent, I can move all the way up to 50 lb weights. The key here is consistency. The same goes for the good wolf. Each time I feed the good wolf, I make it easier for myself to make more good choices. The same stands for the bad wolf. If I stop going to the gym, I lose my progress. I will have to start over with 5 lb weights. If I make one negative choice, if I feed that bad wolf even once, I give it power. That power can grow quickly, changing the course of one’s life forever.

The Bad Wolf

The bad wolf is driven by fear and ego. It’s driven by insecurities, anxiety, and even trauma. When we feed the bad wolf, we tell the body it’s okay to want that behavior, and ultimately, it tells us the behavior in question will benefit us.

Take Mariana for example. She’s been through a treatment program and is a few months clean. She has started to uncover her trauma from a tumultuous childhood and is working on self-love. However, when triggered, the bad wolf chimes in and makes Mariana want to revert to old behaviors. It seems the wolf gets louder and louder until she hits a breaking point and wants to give in completely.

This “yelling” is the bad wolf’s job. It will trick you into thinking feeding it will quiet it down. That is the ultimate lie. When you feed a stray animal, it will always come back for more.

The Good Wolf

The good wolf is harder to hear, especially after years of mental illness and addiction. Why? Because we’ve told it to shut up. Over and over and over again. We’ve silenced its cries for help. We’ve forgotten what it sounds like. But here’s the thing about the good wolf–it’s always there waiting for us to call its name. It, like the bad wolf, is waiting for a chance to be fed.

Let’s go back to Mariana. With practice, she will begin to hear the good wolf and only feed its needs. She will use her coping mechanisms and consistently remind herself that hard work does pay off. Being sober and clean does pay off. The first time she hears the bad wolf calling for food, she goes for a run. That night, she heads to an extra group session to talk out her feelings. A few days later, she hears a louder call. The bad wolf is really hungry. She phones her mentor and writes in her journal. Now, the bad wolf is screaming. It’s starving for attention and food. But Mariana has prepared herself for this moment. She has been working to prepare herself in therapy, she has set up supports with her friends/family, and she’s focusing on the little wins every day that is slowly helping the good wolf’s voice grow louder.

Eventually, Mariana can barely hear the bad wolf. It never goes away, but with practice and discipline, it gets so quiet, most days, she forgets it’s there.

It’s All About Balance

Balance does not mean balancing bad behaviors with good ones. Balance means finding inner peace in a world of chaos. Life is ever-changing, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t control fate. However, we can control our thoughts and actions. We can control which wolf we feed.

That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to make the right choice, but this is where treatment programs, therapy, and group sessions are key. These support systems can help you quell the voice of the bad wolf and focus on ways to strengthen the call of the good. They are also a huge reminder that you are not alone in your pain. Addiction and mental health issues are real, and when they begin to take over our lives, it becomes impossible to hear the call of the good.

We have a choice when it comes to our physical behaviors, and we have a choice when it comes to our thoughts. We can’t control the outside world, but we can control how we react to it. If you or someone you know is struggling with making healthy choices, call Summer House Detox Center today at (800) 719-1090. We will get you clean and sober in the comfort of our luxurious facility in the heart of South Florida. Why wait any longer? Call us today for detox treatment options in Fort Lauderdale, FL. You can also visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.