Tag Archives: bend like a willow

Bend Like a Willow as a Psychotherapy Strategy

Photo: Getty Stock Images

There is an ancient wisdom by Lao Tzu that a strong wind may topple the sturdy oak, but the willow bends and lets the wind pass through. Life sends plenty of wind our way; a belligerent person, unexpected hardships, losses, grief, and difficult changes. In the face of that foul weather, we often glorify those who “stand up” to the winds or “hold their ground” or “don’t let them get away with that.” An alternative common message is to get over it, or “suck it up.” The thing is, over time, these oak trees get brittle, and when being tough proves ineffective, their egos suffer. When the wind gets strong enough, even the “tough” oaks will break if they’re too rigid to bend.

The willow tree rarely falls, as it survives storms with bendable, flexible branches and, of note, an extensive, supportive root system.

Clients say to me that they can’t bear it. A terrible boss, a narcissistic partner, health problems, grief and bereavement, or, like 2020 where the blows keep coming. They feel besieged.

Bending like a willow is NOT passive. Its not weakness. It’s a mindful decision to let the storm buffet, and even tear off some branches. But you stay standing, and the root structure remains strong, with watering from our support network, our self-care, our personal spirituality, and when needed, from therapy. It’s putting up with the storm knowing that it’s temporary. We can learn a lot from trees.

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

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