There is a story about a Native American tribal leader describing his own inner struggles. He said:
“There are two dogs inside me. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.”
Someone asked him which dog usually wins, and after a moment’s reflection, he answered,
“The one I feed the most.”
[Cited in Living a Life That Matters; Harold S. Kushner]
I have these same two dogs inside of me too!
I, generally, am good-natured. But sometimes I am enemy-centered, obsessing over another’s ill-conceived action; attributing malintent…
I really do prefer to do good, be good, and share good. But I know that there are times when I am overly harsh; my critique overly critical, even hurtful.
I really do want to help others; to give them something that might be helpful or take away something that is problematic. But, then again, sometimes I hear that other dog barking out that it really is all about me …
When — many years ago during my facilitation of a training session — I was sharing my awareness of my two dogs, I was challenged by a participant who posited that instead of this being a mere manifestation of my personality, it was an indication of a flaw in my character. That got me to thinkin’!
Our psyches are a curious thing! Even as we exhibit a self awareness that holds considerable possibility for learning and growth, self-correction and self-improvement, there’s also a disquieting feeling that seems to come with it. It has its own bite!
Underneath it all, though, what I find reassuring — no, that’s not strong enough — what I find enabling — wait, better yet: what I feel blessed about (in the sense of being fortunate and appreciative, because I have not done a single thing to bring it into being or allow it to be active) is the capacity to be self-aware; because with it comes the capability to imagine options and alternatives; and the capability of activating my conscience to decipher which of those options are feeding the dog I want to feed; and, lastly, the presence of a will, a free will, to take developmental action.
Yes, these two dogs are indeed inside of me; and while I am confident that I will continue to feed the good dog, I suspect that other one will nonetheless survive and continue to lurk…