So I’ve been on this old childhood movie kick lately and last night I watched the Wizard of Oz. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this movie, but this time I decided to watch it from a “grown-up” perspective.
As the storyline goes, four strangers meet and set out on an adventure with a dog to be granted things they were wishing for, but already possessed.
The Scarecrow wanted brains, but throught the movie used common sense and ingenuity to get everyone out of various situations. The Tin Man wanted a heart but displayed sincere care and compassion to all. The Cowardly Lion put himself in harms way when Dorothy was captured by the Wicked Witch. And Dorothy? Well, she just wanted to go home and she was home the entire time – she just didn’t know because of a little bump on the head.
“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it”. This is one of my favorite quotes from Alice In Wonderland. It is a very special quote because it rings true in several areas of my life.
As a therapist I don’t really give advice. I like to think that I work as a guide to help people discover positive solutions and make the best decisions for themselves. My motto is to “help people help themselves”. Sometimes I think it would be nice if I could help me help myself.
I recently read Alice in Wonderland again, and afterwards watched the Disney version of the movie. If you’ve never watched it, I would suggest it. If you can move past the drug references in the movie including the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, Alice eating mushrooms and chasing the White Rabbit, and what many would describe as psychedelic trips – there are quite a few lessons to be learned. Here are my favorites.
I was convinced I was dying. As a matter of fact, there was no way you could convince me otherwise. Oddly I accepted my fate and whispered to my husband “call 911, I’m dying”. I was sweating profusely, I could feel my heartbeat in my neck and my pulse echoed in my ears. I couldn’t breathe, my face felt weird, my hands were numb, and I was shaking like a leaf. EMS arrived and tried with all their might to convince me I wasn’t dying, but I was convinced they just wanted me to die peacefully without a fight. After some deep breathing and close monitoring I realized I wasn’t dying and was told I had an anxiety attack.
A few months ago a very good friend of mine said to me, “the majority of your frustrations are due to your unrealistic expectations.” I didn’t know how to feel about her statement. There I sat venting to her about the frustrations of my life, waiting for her to co-sign on my misery, and that’s what she gave me. I have to admit that it stung a little, but I slowly began to realize it was the truth.
My parents taught me to follow the Golden Rule – to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. This is something that followed me into my adult life. The funny thing is that I missed a very important piece. The rule is do unto others AS you would have them to do unto you. The reality is that you don’t always get what you give.
We have all experienced a moment where we have been approached by a friend, co-worker, or maybe even a spouse and asked to do something we really didn’t feel like doing. We’ve also had those moments where instead of saying no, we’ve smiled and responded with the dreaded “yes”. So why do we have difficulties telling others no when we don’t feel like doing something?
The Golden Rule Effect
Many of us were instructed at a very young age to “do unto others as you would have them to do unto you”. Sometimes we may avoid telling someone no because we would want them to tell us yes.
Fear of a Missed Opportunity
It began with her morning feeding. I watched her feed herself and become frustrated with my efforts to help. That afternoon, we played with her blocks and as I’d build a tower, she’d knock it down and reconstruct it to her liking. Throughout the day, I watched her tackle her newest feat – running.
I watched her take off with no fear; moving obstacles, running blindly around corners, and beaming in pride as she reached her destination. Later that night, much to my surprise and fear, I discovered she’d conquered the stairs. As I sat back and reflected on the day, it hit me… what if we had the courage of babies?