Category: Daily Discussion

Flexibility moves mountains.

Published: April 29, 2010

Be Soft Like Water - Dr. Wayne Dyer

By Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Grow strong by going with the flow.

“Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water. But for attacking the hard, the unyielding, nothing can surpass it. There is nothing like it.”

In researching, studying, and putting into practice the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching, I’ve been struck by the many references Lao-tzu makes to water in its various forms: the sea, rain, fog, mist, snow, and rivers and streams. The esteemed master seemed to find his spiritual strength in all of nature, but he must have had a special reverence for water and how it functions in all of our lives. Be like water seems to be repeated throughout the Tao Te Ching. This element is closer to being Tao-like than anything else in this world, so it is a perfectly suitable symbol for teaching about the Great Way.

Water is as mysterious to us as the Tao is. When you reach into the river and try to squeeze it tight, you end up losing it all. Water is elusive until you cease grasping and let your hand relax and be one with it—paradoxically, you get it by letting go. Lao-tzu advises emulating this element in all of its undecipherable and mysterious ways, even if it seems contrary to what your intellect and conditioning are telling you.

Lao-tzu reiterates three themes that derive from the true characteristics of water:

  1. Overcome the unyielding parts of your life by yielding! Hard and rigid are overcome by the relentless application of gentle things, such as water’s soft flow or steady drip. So be persistently gentle and willing to surrender, and watch the resistance of the harsh and implacable wear away.For years, one of my family members who insisted on damaging herself and her relationships by ingesting intoxicating substances has been met by my loving but firm response. Slowly, over time, her hardness began to wear away in the face of the steady drip, drip, drip of gentle but resolute kindness, acceptance, and love. It can be discouraging at times, but as Lao-tzu points out in this verse, we must act just like water and use a soft approach, “for attacking the hard, the unyielding, nothing can surpass it.”
  2. Water appears to be something you could easily overpower. However, it’s so flexible that once you push it out of the way, it will find its own level below all strong things and patiently enter where nothing solid can block its resting place. Put up barricades, erect levees, and make everything waterproof; yet with enough passage of time, the flexible quality of water will triumph. “The weak overcomes the strong” is a powerful message for you. Remember to stay flexible, willing to lower yourself in humility and appear weak, but knowing that you’re in harmony with the Tao. Lao-tzu urges you to be like the master who remains “serene in the midst of sorrow,” and evil will not be able to enter your heart.
  3. Water is so soft that it can’t be harmed, damaged, or destroyed—it simply returns to its Source to be used over and over again. Boil it until it disappears, and its vapors enter the atmosphere, ultimately to return. Drink it, and it returns after nourishing your body. Pollute it, and it will return after enough passage of time to become purified nourishment again. This is all accomplished because of the element’s mutable softness.When you stay soft and surpass the hard, you too will be indestructible. There’s nothing softer than water under heaven, and yet there’s nothing that can surpass it for overcoming the hard. There’s so much wisdom to be found in this analogy: Stay in your soft mode. Hang back when you’re about to show how hard you can be. Try patience rather than attempting to rigidly control. Trust your innately gentle self.

Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of self-development. Wayne holds a doctorate in educational counseling from Wayne State University and was an associate professor at St. John’s University in New York. Visit:



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Don’t place a question mark where God has placed a period… Know when to get on with your life.

This could not be any clearer than in the treatment process. I see this day in and day out; clients placing the question mark in reference to whether they are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. For example, the idea that a person can drink socially again after it has been substantiated repeatedly that is not likely to happen. The “period” has been placed by numerous consequences such as DWI’s, previous treatments, lost relationships, blackouts, on and on. Nonetheless, people come to treatment, have some clean time and amazingly forget about these “periods” and begin to question whether it was really that bad. They have to test whether it is really a disease? The following is from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter Three, page 31, it describes the countless ways that alcoholics and addicts place the question marks.
In some instances, there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse. Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it has not done so yet. Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic. If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a person, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!
Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums – we could increase the list ad infinitum.
It is obvious to anyone glancing in from the outside that a “period” has been placed, the addiction has been established, and has settled in for the long haul. All that is called for is acceptance of the addiction and some movement forward. Unfortunately, the addiction has a stronghold and has taken over the addicts mind and body. As most of us know, old ideas are difficult to let go of. Old ideas=question mark?
We inform people when they come to treatment that letting go of an addiction, is equivalent to letting go of a cherished one. The process in doing this is called the grief process. Within this process, it is common to “question” and take the “period” away. All the same, there is time for movement. Is it your time to let go and move on?

The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
—Virginia Woolf

Yes, laughter…something, I experienced this past week-end.  I thought it had disappeared from life.  On Friday, I met with  an Attorney, and he suggested that I get my ‘good nature’ back.  Wow, that simple statement opened eyes.  What perception for a man who had just met me. Then I spent the weekend laughing…oh, how I have missed laughter.   The world does have two edges and mine has been the world  of  distress that I have created.   True, there are  contributing events, but I have a choice on how to respond to those circumstances.   I have let that edge suffering take over.   Today,  I’m choosing laughter, not anguish, no matter the circumstance.