I can be very impatient. Driving behind a slow or erratic driver, I start telling them what to do — “Drive with a purpose!” Even when I am not in a hurry, I get annoyed. When someone races past and then cuts me off, it’s even worse. I call the other driver harsh (unprintable) names and feel angry at how that driver endangers the rest of us.
Then I think about the Cherokee wolf story: that there are two wolves within every one of us, one evil and the other good, and that they are constantly fighting to take over. Who will win the fight? The wolf we feed.
So I start to feed the kind wolf. I start imagining all the different reasons for the behavior of the driver who’s annoyed me. Maybe he’s sick. Maybe she’s exhausted. Maybe he’s grieving a death. Maybe she’s recovering from surgery. Maybe he’s worried about his wife. Maybe she’s anxious about her son. Maybe he’s late for an appointment that is going to change his life. Maybe she’s racing to get to the hospital.
The minute I choose to cut the other driver some slack, I begin to relax. Instead of assuming mean things (he’s a jerk, she’s an idiot), I assume kind things (she’s in trouble, he’s suffering), and my whole attitude changes. I give them room, physically and emotionally. I allow that there is some reason for their behavior, and that I do not know what it really is. It might be something stupid or foolish, but it might be something I would understand and sympathize with. Even if their reason seems foolish to me, it may be vital to them.
Giving others the room to do what they need to in the moment without judging them for their choice allows me to let go of any anger or resentment I might feel. I stop feeding the evil wolf and start feeding the good one, and I feel better.
Do you struggle to feed the right wolf? How do you go about it?