I am sure most of you are familiar with the children’s stories by A.A. Milne about Winnie-the-Pooh and his 100-acre woods friends. Although these stories were written for children, they tend to resonate with us adults as well. Why? Because the characters have flaws and challenges we can all relate to. Pooh’s adventures are exciting yet can be perceived as anxiety inducing to some. It would make me anxious to see honey eating monsters called Heffalumps. Which got me to wondering how Pooh and his buddies deal with anxiety. In this post we are going to take a tongue-in-cheek romp with Pooh, Piglet, and Rabbit to see how they react to and cope with stress and anxiety. Which character is most like you?
Pooh describes himself as a "Bear of Very Little Brain"and is bothered by long words. Most of his daily activities center on curing the "rumbly in his tumbly." For all his humble nature Pooh does spout off much wisdom and is loved and revered by his many friends.
Pooh’s Biggest Worry:
Pooh is most concerned about satisfying his cravings. Even if he has ten pots of honey, he is worried about the pot he does not yet have. The honey is a bit of an obsession and borderline addiction. He is willing to get stuck in a tree and have bees sting him repeatedly over his endless honey pursuit.
Possible Diagnosis: Binge Eating and Honey Addiction
How does Pooh react to anxiety?
Pooh responds to anxiety by overeating. He finds comfort and solace in eating honey but so much so that he has put himself and his friends in danger over his obsession. He has also ignored the fact that his one red shirt no longer fits and is about two sizes too small.
How does Pooh cope with stress and anxiety?
Fortunately Pooh has some friends who aren’t afraid to give him some tough love. When Pooh eats too much at Rabbit’s house and can no longer squeeze through the front door Pooh tries to say that Rabbit’s door is too small. Rabbit confronts Pooh by telling him the truth that his door is not too small, but that Pooh is too large. Rabbit and other friends stage a sort of intervention by telling Pooh that he can’t have any more honey until he slims down enough to fit through the door. Pooh is good-natured about the whole ordeal but goes right back to the honey as soon as he loses the weight and gets through the door.
Pooh’s words of wisdom: You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
Piglet is a timid pink pig who likes balloons, bright colors, and blowing dandelions. He is Pooh’s side-kick and best friend.
Piglet’s Biggest Worry: What doesn’t Piglet worry about? Piglet’s fears and worries include: Heffalumps, being abandoned, his small size, and being jumped on by Tigger for starters.
How does Piglet react to anxiety?
Piglet shows classic signs of nervousness such as shivering, shaking, and startling easily. Piglet is also prone to stuttering when feeling fearful. You may find Piglet hiding under the covers during one of his anxiety attacks.
How does Piglet cope with stress and anxiety?
Despite piglet’s timid nature he does face many of his fears head-on. Piglet confesses to Rabbit how difficult it can be to be brave. “Piglet”, said Rabbit, taking out a pencil, and licking the end of it, “you haven’t any pluck.” “It is hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffling slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.” Yet Piglet never backs down from any challenge or expedition especially to help his friends. He even faces fierce creatures such as Heffalumps, Woozles, Wizzles and Jagulars. What is especially brave about piglet is that he openly talks about his anxiety and fears with his friends.
Pooh uses cognitive psychology on Piglet:
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
Rabbit prides himself on his intelligence and responsible nature. He even tells Owl, "You and I have brains. The others have fluff." Rabbit is a practical creature and not prone to daydreaming or following Pooh’s flights of fancy. He is seen by the others in 100-acre-wood as a bit of a nag and a party pooper but also a leader with good ideas. Rabbit’s greatest passion is gardening.
Rabbit’s biggest worry:
Rabbit’s biggest worry is loss of control. He becomes very unhappy if someone upsets the order of things, interrupts him while he is busy arranging things, or makes any mess.
Possible diagnosis: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Rabbit’s reaction to stress and anxiety:
Rabbit spends an inordinate amount of time re-arranging and fixing things just so in his garden and home. Rabbit worries excessively if things are out of place. He can also get pushy and takes over planning and organizing any sort of group event. Rabbit may be accused of being a control freak for trying to micro-manage his friends. He even tries to stop Tigger from bouncing.
How does Rabbit cope?
Rabbit has some good friends who recognize his need for order but also challenge him to get messy and be a little more spontaneous and carefree. Tigger is very good at enticing Rabbit to loosen up and have some fun. For example here is Tigger showing Rabbit how to find joy in bouncing. Despite his issues, Rabbit is well liked and accepted by his friends.
Rabbit’s philosophy on gardening:
[after his last carrot is stuck to the ground] It doesn’t matter whether you think you’re ripe This is Rabbit’s garden, and Rabbit does his harvest by the BOOK!
Pooh, Piglet and Rabbit have one huge thing in common. And that is that despite their individual idiosyncrasies they are accepted and loved by their friends. Who doesn’t have issues? But we get through our challenges so much more easily when we have the support of family and friends.
I will leave you with one last quote from the Winnie-the-Pooh books on friendship:
If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together"¦ there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart"¦ I’ll always be with you.
–Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh
In addition here is a fun questionaire on finding your inner Pooh or Piglet in this 100 Acre Personality quiz.
We are eager to hear from you. Which character from the Winnie the Pooh books is most like you? Are you a Pooh, Piglet, or Rabbit? Other characters we didn’t have time to discuss include Tigger, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Gopher, and Eeyore. Looking forward to reading your responses!