The wind does not break
a tree that bends.
~ African Proverb
Challenges and change are a consistent part of life. Throughout each individual lifespan, everyone will face challenges in at least several realms: physical or mental health, employment, family, relationships, housing and financial to name some major ones. Life isn't about avoiding these challenges per se, but more about how to approach and deal with them, learning to respond more than react.
If fear and anxiety are your default way of facing challenges and change, the defenses you developed to protect yourself will tend to be rigid or controlled. This makes it difficult to bend and sway in the wind or the storm; instead it may feel like you will snap in two, as you may have learned to brace yourself against the wind rather than being flexible and bending with it.
When you are able to accept and face a challenge and not be overwhelmed by fear, your defenses will not be as rigid. This will allow you more ease and space to go with whatever you are facing, to creatively bend with the figurative wind or storm, finding ways to be flexible and graceful in the face of a howling wind that feels threatening to your life or survival.
Where in your life right now could you use more flexibility in facing a situation that may be troubling or threatening? Can you imagine how you might soften your stance and bend or sway, going with the challenge rather than resisting it?
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Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley