My clients come to work with me for a variety of reasons. Some clients come to deal with anxiety, insecurity, or unhealthy relationships with food. The ‘presenting problem is often different, but the common motivator is usually the same – there is a part of their life that isn’t working and feels confusing. They feel lost. They want something different but don’t feel they know how to get there. Everyone comes seeking more clarity and better solutions for moving forward.
Have you ever felt this way about life?
Have you ever felt dissatisfied or unhappy and didn’t know quite what to do or how to change your situation?
Have you ever felt as though you couldn’t make a decision, or that there were a million different people living inside your head, and all of them want something different?
I may as well be asking you – “By any chance, are you a human being?” because this happens to every single one of us.
One of my favorite topics to present on is the use of metaphor in therapy and healing work. I absolutely love it (and anyone who has worked with me will tell you I use it all the time). One of my favorite metaphors for developing our inner strength when life gets confusing is the Wizard of Oz (yes, you heard me right).
There are many reasons that the Wizard of Oz is one of the most famous movies of all time. It’s a great movie, but in my opinion, it is also one of the greatest metaphors in our common cultural sphere – and I want to break it down, as I see it, to help you look at your situation a little clearer.
In the movie, Dorothy finds herself in a confusing and unknown world. She just wants to go home.
She is told that she has to find this great, all knowing, Wizard to find answers, so she sets out to find him, believing that he has the answers.
On her way, she meets the Lion without courage, the Tin Man without a heart and The Scarecrow without a brain. She also meets a wicked witch, and a good witch. And then there’s Toto.
So, here we go – metaphor time.
In your life, you are Dorothy. Along your path, you get lost from time to time in situations that feel scary and unfamiliar. You just want to go “home” – and in real life – “home” is the reconnection with ourselves. It is back to living our authentic life.
As we go down the yellow brick road (which is life), we face some scary stuff. (Flying monkeys anyone??)
We also aren’t alone. We travel with a cast of characters, much like Dorothy, only – they are in our mind. We all have our own version of the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man. We have our inner good witch and bad witch as well. In therapy, we get all fancy and call these inner parts “ego states.” The theory is, that we have parts of our identity that exist, that play different roles and have different functions.
We all have that part of ourselves that can be really frightened, and we all have the part that can really be courageous (both parts of the Lion). We all have the intellectual part and the capacity to not “know” something and be confused (The Scarecrow). We all have the connection to heart, and have part of ourselves that is able to disconnect from that (usually out of defense) and be without our heart (both parts of the Tin Man). We also have the wicked witch ego state, which is commonly referred to as the “inner critic,” who is the voice in our head that torments and criticizes us.
Lastly, we also all have our good witch. This is the ego state that I believe is connected to the divine and is there to support our highest good. This is where I want to focus.
As adults we have the capacity to choose which “part” we want to feed. We can actively and consciously choose which ego state gets to run the show. We can choose which voice we listen to and which voice we actively reinforce. We can choose to listen to the good witch, and let her advice and direction guide our journey.
Okay – so now for the Wizard. Oh, how I love this part of the metaphor. So, Dorothy is going down the yellow brick road of life thinking that there is this amazing wizard who has all the answers and if only she could find him he will fix everything and show her the way home.
Only, as we all know, when she finally finds this amazing wizard, it turns out that he’s really just some short little guy with no power and just a lot of smoke and mirrors. He has no power at all!
This of course is the metaphor for our thinking that the answer or the truth lies outside of ourselves. The Wizard of Oz could be a myriad of things, but to name a few it could be seeking approval from others, fitting in to societal norms, or thinking that anyone else is going to “save us.”
Dorothy comes to realize, thanks to the wise words of her “good witch” (higher self/higher power), that she is the one who has the answers.
This, of course is when she realized that all she had to do was tap her slippers and get really clear on her intention and she could make it happen for herself. She had what she was seeking all along.
So, what do we do with all of this? Well, I want to use this to encourage you to remember a few things as you journey down your own yellow brick road.
- You have the power you are looking for. You always have your ruby-red slippers. They are inside of you.
- Beware of false idols. The “wizards” in life are all just little humans, just like you who don’t have your answers. You are the wizard you are seeking.
- Your traveling companions, or your ego states (i.e. the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin man) have good and bad traits. It is okay, and it is part of the journey. We all have fear and courage, intellect and confusion, heart and defensiveness. We are all parts of what it means to be human. It is more fun on this journey if you make friends with all of your companions.
- Don’t listen to your Wicked Witch. If it is cruel, nasty, mean or discouraging, then it’s Wicked Witchery. Don’t give her attention. Need I say more?
- Cultivate your Good Witch. Your thoughts that are kind, supportive, encouraging and that speak to your own power are “good witch” thoughts. Feed her, follow her advice, and heed her wisdom.
- Every life has its flying monkeys. If you can remember that you’re the source of your power and that you are always wearing your proverbial ruby slippers, you will remember your way out. You are the source of your power. (Can I say that one more time?)
- Lastly, there is Toto. I am going to just make this really simple and state that life is more enjoyable with a dog by your side. That’s probably not the metaphor that was intended on this one – but this is my article, so that’s my take away.
Remember, as Glenda said to Dorothy:
"You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”