Brian's Living Yes Story

Brian (not his real name) wore his black panther beret and black clothes everywhere he went. He wore the same outfit while he was in jail. He said it reminded people he meant business. A once-professed bully, Brian was nearing fifty. A handsome guy with dark features, he liked to say how he would beat up anybody who crossed him, but he also admitted that he needed help and said he appreciated therapy because he could talk to someone who would listen. He also said he was open to new ideas.

“Nobody told us how to stop being thieves and killers.” Brian wasn’t ready to learn all the ins and outs of living yes. He was about fighting off whatever was bothering him.

I offered him a short cut. I told him the well-known Cherokee legend about the young brave who was having trouble learning to hunt. Each time he would pull back the arrow, he could feel his heart race. Each time the deer would move out of the way. The young brave was becoming frustrated and self-critical. His anxiety was increasing, and his shooting was getting worse.

Grandfather said, “inside me are two wolves: a bad wolf who is full of anger, rage, and self-doubt and also inside me is a good wolf who knows peace and harmony and brings me closer to the Great Spirit. These two wolves are always in a battle with each other.” The old man stopped as the young brave’s eyes opened wide.

“Which one wins, grandfather?”

The wise elder paused before answering. “The one that I feed.”

The young brave realized that he had been feeding his anger and had been destroying his own confidence. The next time he went hunting, he sat quietly and remembered the story of the wolves. With the good wolf in his mind’s eye, he found his breathing was more calm than before. When he drew back his bow, the arrow was true.

Brian liked the story and relaxed into the idea. He learned to breathe and began to consciously control his thinking. In the following session, Brian made a list of the foods for his bad wolf (such as: hurtful anger, judging, fighting) and a list of the food for his good wolf (such as: breathing, accepting, praying).

A few weeks later, Brian said that the battle between the bad wolf and the good wolf was going well. He was giving the good wolf all his strength, so he could destroy the bad wolf. However, helping the bad wolf destroy the good wolf was based in Brian's old battle thinking. Brian had gotten a little off track, believing the bad wolf could be destroyed by power, or destroyed at all.
Brian saw the good wolf as God and the bad wolf as Satan, which is a fair analogy. However, even in the Biblical model, the bad wolf will always exist here on earth. I suggested that rather than a fight, the wise grandfather is saying that feeding the good or bad wolf is a choice. That choice is the difference between living yes or dying no.

Now Brian is living yes more. He is writing a book about life on the streets, and he is helping other people in the neighborhood learn how to choose to live yes.