Your Money and the Two Wolves

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Your Money and the Two Wolves

You’ve probably already heard this story:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life, and says, “A fight is going on inside me.”

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continues, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thinks for a moment and then asks his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee wisely says, “The one you feed.”

I love this story, but hadn’t heard it before today.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized it applies to virtually every aspect of our lives.  How we handle our friendships and our intimate relationships … our jobs or businesses … and, yes, even our money.

Let me give you an example.  Say you walk up to 50 people and ask, “Would you like to have financial peace of mind?”  How many people do you think would say “yes”?  (I would be very surprised if the number weren’t very near 50  … unless they got sidetracked asking what exactly you meant by “financial peace of mind.”)

So we can start with the premise that no one wants to be in debt.  No one wants to lie in bed at night worrying about how to meet the existing bills, or how to be sure one emergency won’t push them over the edge financially, or how to hold on to the savings already accumulated that are at risk of disappearing with the tumultuous economy.  No one wants to be poor, broke, cleaned out, in debt up to his or her eyeballs and ducking credit companies and bill collectors.  No one wants that.

So what makes the difference between those who reach financial peace of mind and those who do not?

Think of this:  there is no lack of information on what is required to get your financial house in order.  (The internet is loaded with it.)  And there is no dearth of people and services available to you in your community, your church, your library or your friends and family.

Once again, what is the difference?

Now, I’m not saying that in order to reach financial peace of mind you have to be a goody two-shoes, focused only on love, hope, humility, empathy and compassion.  But I am saying that it’s unlikely you’ll get there from a place of envy, greed, self-pity or false pride.

To bring it back to words I use more commonly when I write:  to reach financial peace of mind you have to (1) be willing to be open to understanding what baggage you bring forward from your childhood as mistaken money messaging, and let it go.  No ego.  No self-pity.   Just compassion.

You have to (2) be willing to look at your financial situation honestly, putting things down in black and white, with no squiggling or squirming.  No deceit.  No little lies.  Just truth.

And you have to (3) have clarity about what’s important to you way down deep (as in your life purpose) in order to have the motivation to do everything that’s needed to reach financial security.  No anger or arrogance.  Just pure vision.  And belief.

Honestly, now: do you ever hear yourself saying “I just want all of this mess to disappear and I don’t want to have to worry about money anymore”?   Or “Why do I work so hard and everyone else seems to be better off than I am?”  And then, even if you do come up with a plan that could change everything for you, do you then abandon it after three or four days?

Do you find that, no matter how often you talk about it, you seem to be stuck in the same place?

If so, what wolf do you think you’re feeding?

Let me know in the comment section below if you think there’s any chance you could be focusing on the wrong things, and feeding the wrong wolf.

xxxxxxx

Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers will be shared in her upcoming book “Money After Menopause.” Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her Over Fifty and Financially Free coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve … if they’re willing to do what it takes!

  • I love that story…I have never heard it before! Great message-what WE focus on, take action on is what will be! Great article as always! Thanks for sharing!

    • SharonODay

       Interesting dichotomy, isn’t it, Denny?  Evil/good, dark/light, whatever you call it, when you start paying attention it’s surprising to see where your different thoughts and attitudes are coming from!

  • Rebecca Livermore

    I have always loved this story because it is so very true. What we “feed” truly wins. I think we sometimes fail to really think about the choices we make when it comes to money, and such lack of thought can impact us in major ways. Being mindful of what we feed in all areas of our lives, including finances, truly makes a difference. 

    • SharonODay

      It’s easier said than done, Rebecca!  I’ve been trying to focus on it since I wrote this article and find I keep having to remind myself to stay aware of where thoughts are coming from … but it’s fascinating!

  • Sharon, your story is really memorable. I love stories, especially those with truth at their core. I will be thinking on this today, and all week, for sure. Thanks for going right to the bull’s eye with this post.

    • SharonODay

      I love stories too, Diane.  “Message storytelling” is a skill the ancients had down pat, and is such a great way to transmit values, for example.  But it’s not a skill that holds the same sway today …

  • Great post and I love the story too. We should  look at our financial situation honestly, this will help us to move forward. Great tips!

    • SharonODay

       What’s even more valuable, Anastasiya, is that it helps us move forward with greater integrity!

  • Sondra

    Love it Sharon! Same principles in books like “As A man Thinketh” it’s always what we nourish and feed, that will take root and grow

    • SharonODay

      You’re right, Sondra.  I hadn’t made the “As a Man Thinketh” connection …

  • maryrose

    I have had this story as a part of how I think and react for a long time..
    I honestly never thought of it in other area than how i react to actions around me..personal issues, beliefs..
    I learned something new today..and it made another piece fall into place in my life’s puzzle…which is many scattered pieces laying on the ground lately….

    Thank you… I look forward to reading your book…

    Take Care…
    You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

    • SharonODay

       Thank you, Maryrose.  I’ve heard people say “How you do anything is how you do everything.”  I guess we can extend that to all different sorts of teaching tools, including the Two Wolves story!

  • I’ve heard that story about the Indian and the wolfe before and have always loved it. Now I’ll know to remember it when dealing with my money plan, too. Thanks Sharon for sharing a touching, vital lesson of life with all of us.

    • SharonODay

      As you know, Carla, it’s all a matter of awareness.  Whatever we look at, if we’re willing to be honest about it, we’ll find lessons and cracker crumbs that show us the best path for each of us … 😉

  • Wonderful article Sharon!
    Financial peace of mind is such a blessing.
    Thank you for encouraging people to get real about their money.

    • SharonODay

      MarVeena, it’s like ringing a bell.  Or different bells.  My hope is that by sharing the message in all sorts of different ways, the people who need to hear it … will!

  • andreabeadle

    I love this story Sharon. I turned my own story around from constantly worrying about money to realising that I am always provided for. The turning point was when I effectively stopped feeding the wrong wolf! As soon as I did that my life turned on a “sixpence”. 

    • SharonODay

       It’s so good to hear from people who have made this work, Andrea.  It sounds difficult to people before they try it … until it becomes the normal way to see things!

  • Great analogy Sharon … think I’ll have to go back and asses my wolves 🙂

  • Alexandra McAllister

    I love your analogy, Sharon! Very well done! Financial freedom is such a blessing. Thanks for sharing. I hadn’t heard the story about the Cherokee and the wolves.

    • I’ve loved that story since I first heard it last year. It applies to so many aspects of our lives … 😉

  • I love your story. Of those people who do say “yes”, how many are actually willing to work towards financial freedom? How many don’t want to try again because other things they have tried in the past haven’t worked.?

    • The key, Christy, is being able to show someone who has failed before how many things they’ve succeeded at after several tries. Controlling finances is no different. There are so many simple things that we weren’t taught about money that make it harder to stay on the path towards financial freedom. I take great joy in watching women make those shifts and start down the path to that freedom …

  • daniele holmberg

    Great article! It is so important to have financial piece of mind. I love your analogy:) Thanks for another great article!

    • Thanks for the kudos, Dani! I’m always happy to see that you’ve been by for a read … 😉