Lupus In Fabula: The Wolf in the Story.

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Life will happen to us all at some point; whatever goes wrong will eventually go wrong (Murphy’s Law). It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. The proverbial wolf/devil will eventually show when we least expect it, and the situation could make or break us. The father of American Psychology, William James, once quipped, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” Our superpower as humans is the ability to choose the direction we want to go and the approach we want to take. We can either let the trials and tribulations that confront us constantly make us bitter, or we choose to get better, let it lessen our resolve, or learn the lesson.

The Wolf We Feed 1

One evening an elder Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us. One is Fear. It carries anxiety, concern, uncertainty, hesitancy, indecision, and inaction. The other is Faith. It brings calm, conviction, confidence, enthusiasm, decisiveness, excitement, and action.” The grandson thought about it for a moment and then meekly asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.

In his book Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age 2, author Bruce Feiler describes the Italian expression “Lupus In Fabula,” which translates to speaking of the devil. Feiler


The Italians have a wonderful expression for how our lives get upended when we least expect it: lupus in fabula. Fabula means “fairy tale.” The fabula is the fantasy of our lives, the ideal version, our lives when everything is going right. Lupus means “wolf.” The lupus is the trouble, the conflict, the big, scary thing that threatens to destroy everything around it. Our actual lives, in other words.

Lupus in fabula means “the wolf in the fairy tale.” Italians use it as the equivalent of speak of the devil. Just when life is going swimmingly, along comes a demon, an ogre, a dragon, a diagnosis, a downsizing, a death. Just when our fairy tale seems poised to come true, a wolf appears.

We get stuck in the woods and can’t see a way out. We lose sight of happily ever after. We all ache. We all hurt, suffer, and yearn. We all wallow in our bad decisions, mourn our losses, obsess over our flawed body parts, our poor choices, and our missed opportunities. We know we would be happier, richer in satisfaction, maybe even literally richer if we didn’t do these things. And yet we can’t help ourselves. We have what appears to be a genetic imperative to retell our story over and over again, sometimes tarrying a little too long on our poorest performances or weakest moments.

We can’t get past the wolves. And that’s okay. Because if you banish the wolf, you banish the hero. And if there’s one thing I learned: We all need to be the hero of our own story. That’s why we need fairy tales. They teach us how to allay our fears, and help us sleep at night. Which is why we keep telling them year after year, bedtime after bedtime. They turn our nightmares into dreams.

if you banish the wolf, you banish the hero.

We Are Not Born to Be Victims 

The wolf is always looking for the weak to feist on, and life will happen to us all, but the key to navigating the vicissitudes of life is to stay resilient and persist in the face of adversity. British Writer Vivian Greene once said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” In her book Boundaries: Where You End, and I Begin 3, author Anne Katherine noted that “Like a wolf who stalks the weak elk in the herd, exploiters will pass you over if you seem strong and feisty.”



Inability to distinguish extreme or inappropriate behavior, excessive tolerance for abuse, impossible expectations of self-perfection, inability to defend oneself these are infallible symptoms of severe childhood abuse. If a child learns that her only permitted response to abuse is to survive it, how, as an adult, can she magically know that defense is permissible?        

Unfortunately, many of us have been in situations where we’ve been overpowered physically, where someone has used violence or power to take from us. We are not responsible for that harm. An unfortunate consequence of such violence or abuse of power is that we sometimes believe we are born to be victims. We let others commit even nonviolent offenses against us because we’ve lost the sense (or maybe we never had it to begin with) that we have the right to defend our boundaries.        

The more you stop yourself from being used, the less you broadcast yourself as a victim. Like a wolf who stalks the weak elk in the herd, exploiters will pass you over if you seem strong and feisty. By learning to protect yourself, you lessen the incidences of being threatened.

Like a wolf who stalks the weak elk in the herd, exploiters will pass you over if you seem strong and feisty.


  • Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt – Progression
  • Meditation is an individual experience; there is no benchmark to track improvement; it is just you on that couch with an open mind. Meditation progress is usually noticed subtly, such as getting more connected with what is going on in our mind and body and the ability to concentrate and sit for extended periods. No lasting change happens overnight; it happens slowly over time.
  • Daily Jay with Jay Shetty – Live Your Story
  • Focus on the experience you want to have than the story that you want to tell. It is about paying attention to the motivation behind your decisions and clarifying that whatever you are about to do is actually what you want to do. When you do something because of the story, you live for others’ validation rather than your own. Instead, we should be driven by the desire to have impactful and meaningful experiences, grow and transform. We should always strive to align our actions with our values and purpose.
  • Daily Trip with Jeff Warren – Alien Intervention

We’re here for a good time, Not a long time. So have a good time. The sun can’t shine every day. – Tropper, Canadian rock band


All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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