The inverse bamboo syndrome

In part one of ‘Toxic Personality and the Inverse Bamboo Syndrome‘, we shared a story illustrating the long term impact of being with toxic friends. In part two, we share how the story of the Chinese bamboo tree has lessons for us on the imperceptible impact of toxic friends on our psyche and how this toxic can suddenly sprout up within us over-night many years later.

At the end of the story we show the immediate and long term impact on the success of any endeavour you put your mind to.

A few weeks ago my friend Joanna called me again and asked if I was free to go for a drink to celebrate her new life. As my evening appointment had been postponed, I said that would be fab. So off we went to celebrate in a lovely Stockholm pub by the sea.

I don’t know why,” she said as we sat down to enjoy our drinks, but I have never felt so free in my life.”

Ooh what happened?” I enquired.

Well, shortly after we spoke a few weeks ago, I made the decision to split up with my boyfriend.” Joanna replied.

Umm, how does that make you feel free?” I asked in surprise. Most people are normally in mourning for at least a few months.”

financial balance
Free at last

I was becoming someone I didn’t like and I was losing a lot of confidence. Since our chat, I realised that I was absorbing his personality and slowly becoming a person I didn’t like. I feel like after breaking up with him I am rapidly getting back to my old self.” Joanna explained. But there is something I don’t really understand,” she continued,up until the day we spoke, I was having a great time. I was laughing, happy and enjoying myself for over a year. Then… wham! Suddenly I hated myself… almost overnight.”

“Hmmm,” I thought for a moment… “I believe what youve experienced is the inverse bamboo syndrome.”

What do you mean?” Joanna asked incredulously.

Well, do you know the Chinese bamboo story?” I asked.

“No,” Joanna replied, how does it go?”


The Chinese Bamboo Story

There was once a farmer who decided to grow some Chinese Bamboo. This farmer had heard that Chinese Bamboo contained very many special properties. These special properties would surely help him and his family solve their numerous financial problems. So one day, he planted the seeds to grow this special Chinese Bamboo tree.

During that whole year, the farmer would religiously water the soil and ensure the land was free from any weeds that could harm the treasure he was growing. After the first year, nothing had popped out of the land he so carefully tended to. Not even a peep. No tiny shoots, and no glimpses of this mythical Chinese Bamboo anywhere.

The farmer however was not perturbed. He had faith. He knew if he stuck at it, something good was sure to happen. So during the second year, the farmer made extra certain that this bald patch of land was properly watered, weeded and received appropriate sunshine.

However, at the end of the second year, still nothing had happened to the land. His friends made jokes and encouraged him to plant a different crop that the land might like. The farmer however was resolute. He had faith. He had read that if he persevered, the magical Chinese Bamboo would grow.

purse, money management, finance
Good habits and skills take time to grow

So during the third year, the farmer was extra vigilant in ensuring the land was able to get the most sunshine and water and was properly tended to. And at the end of the third year, you can guess what happened… Boom! (Or rather no boom). Nothing had happened.

You can imagine that if you had spent three years trying to develop something, a new habit, or a different way of investing, and still had nothing to show for it, you would probably lose interest and give up. The farmer was very close to doing the same thing. Some of his friends thought he should perhaps dig up the ground and make sure the seeds were still there. Perhaps they had been stolen or something had eaten them.

The farmer called a friend who had had experience in growing this magical Chinese Bamboo. Please stick with it,” his friend begged. You have spent all this time tending the land. If you give up now, you will lose everything and will have to start all over again. I promise you that one day, these Chinese Bamboo trees will grow.”

The farmer listened to his enlightened friend and persevered with tending the land for another year. He ignored the jibes of his less educated friends. He ignored his own natural tendencies to grow what he knew would work. He tended the land with extreme care, ensuring sufficient sunshine and watering was given to his bald patch of land where the Chinese Bamboo seeds were planted.

At the end of the fourth year, nothing had happened. However, during the following week in the fifth year the farmer witnessed a tiny shoot poking through the soil. In the second week, this small shoot grew to the size of a small plant. Six weeks later the Chinese Bamboo tree had grown eighty feet high.

The farmer and his family had finally got their success.

rat race, winner, financial freedom, inverse bamboo syndrome
The losers at the back have inverse bamboo syndrome.

Inverse Bamboo Syndrome

Now, there are many lessons to learn from this story. One important lesson is that if you want to grow something good in you, such as a good habit, it will take time. Over time, and almost in an invisible manner, you will suddenly gain that ability. This ability will bloom after the years of cultivation but it could take a week, a month, a year or even several years depending on who you are and your situation.

However this law does not select between good and bad habits. If your best friends have toxic personalities, then over time you too will have these toxic personality traits. It won’t happen in a week, or a month, it will just imperceptibly happen over time until one day you become just as toxic as the people you hang out with. I call this the ‘Inverse Bamboo Syndrome’, where ‘Inverse’ represents the qualities we don’t want.

The Inverse Bamboo Syndrome is what happened to my friend Joanna. Over a period of a year, Joanna became more and more selfish at a deeper and deeper level. One day she opened her eyes and could no longer stand looking at that person in the mirror.

Just as you are about to reach a level of success this toxicity then sabotages everything you’ve tried to achieve. Unless dealt with, higher levels of success will elude you and your team.

The Chinese Bamboo Story is a true story. There are many great lessons that we can learn from this unusual tree. However, the only lesson I wanted to share from the Inverse Bamboo Syndrome is to just be careful of the habits you are practicing and the friends you keep, lest one day you don’t like what you are looking at in the mirror. What you grow inside of you makes all the difference in achieving your dreams.

If you found this article helpful and useful, please do share it with your friends and give us a comment below.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about self-sabotaging behaviour, check out the following articles from our library.


In the meantime, if you enjoy reading about people’s property success stories check out the following articles:




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