Inspiring Thoughts from EAC

STRENGTH vs STRONG – Where Should We Place our Emphasis in Times of Struggle?

By:  Steve Gainey, MA, LLP, ADS, CAADC
EAC Clinical Specialist —

In this time of struggle that we (our families, friends, co-workers and others around the world) are experiencing, there is a decision to be made:  STRENGTH vs STRONG

Cambridge dictionary defines STRONG as: powerful; having or using great force or control.  The definition of STRENGTH is described as: the ability to do things that need a lot of physical or mental effort.  Being strong can also mean being mighty, hard, brave, impressive, firm, unbending, and unshakable.  Synonyms of strength include robustness, vigor, and sturdiness.

Imagine an enduring hurricane is hitting an area. Ongoing, powerful winds are tearing up everything in sight.  There is a mighty, large oak tree and a reed of bamboo. Now, place yourself as one of these (the oak tree or bamboo).  At first thought, our choice may be the oak tree.  This image gives us the feeling that we can withstand almost anything.  We are strong, impressive, mighty and unshakable compared to the bamboo, who looks small and vulnerable.

However, which one would likely survive and thrive even after the storm?

If you didn’t know, bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. According to, “…certain bamboo species grows up to 91 cm (35”) per day, which is almost 4 cm (1.5”) and hour, or at a speed of 0.00003 km/h (0.00002 mph).”   However, as it grows, it does not increase in diameter or height.  It remains thin.  In order to grow thin, yet tall, bamboo must be extremely strong!   When a storm or hurricane strikes, bamboo doesn’t break.  Rather, it bends and sways in the wind.

Looking at ourselves in this manner, we can become aware of how we handle our struggles in life. Do we bend like the bamboo?  Do our feelings in times of fear, sadness, or anger bend with the storm so we can ultimately stand up and have strength and endurance after the storm passes?  Are we able to be flexible in times of change?

The oak tree stays strong, unbending, mighty and hard.  This is often where we use our anger to be tough, but if we can’t adjust and “bend a little” our trunk will be stressed and possible break under pressure.

I invite you to look at yourself and discover how you handle the struggles of your life.  Are you like the oak tree or the bamboo?  Perhaps, you are a little of both.  Please post your experience below.


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