Today's installment of exploring Stress and Resilience through fairy tales leads us to The Beast.
An evil fairy or witch puts a spell on a young prince when he refuses her what she is asking (the details differ across versions). The spell makes the prince look like a monster, though he has a good heart. When Belle comes to live with him in exchange for her father, the Beast has to choose how he is going to behave with Belle. He can act like his outer shell, a monster, or he can try to show her his true heart. In the tale (as opposed to the movie) Belle has a recurring dream of a prince, and becomes convinced this prince is being kept within the castle walls. She does not recognize this prince as The Beast in his true form.
In a series of kindnesses by The Beast, and the magic mirror's ability to show her his heartbreak over her departure, she returns to him realizing that his behavior is true to who he is. As she cries over him he is released from the spell and regains his form of prince.
What does this tell us about resilience? That the magic lies in living true to who we are, no matter what we appear to others and what stories they tell themselves about us. Happiness comes because we honor ourselves and our true hearts, not from having wealth, possessions, or beauty. Beauty and love come to us because we live our hearts, because we behave as is true to our hearts, not because we do something for someone else.
The key to persistence while we're living our hearts and whatever it is that we desire is flitting around not noticing us? Strength. Strength of character, of truth. I don't mean truth like some universal principle that is true for everyone... but your heart truth... your essential truth.
And they lived happily ever after... which means... they kept holding truth as a path, a way of living, with no arrival. They went on forever and ever finding their truth and embracing it.
Further exploration of how fairy tales can show us the path to the life we most want to live can be had in the Moving From Stress to Resilience e-course.
Alice falls into the rabbit hole into a realm of chaos. Initially she's interested in finding the white rabbit, she's following her curiosity. It takes a bit of time to realize that she doesn't really seem to fit in here, that this land is full of "nonsense".
The Cheshire Cat is the first to suggest that Alice might benefit from getting clear about where she would like to be going. In fact, this very advice, from a parent coach when my children were little, changed my life. I had been trying to get away from what I didn't want in my life, but didn't have a solid sense of direction about where I was going... what I wanted to cultivate in my life. This is a critical step for building resilience. It provides a beacon... something we're moving TOWARD.
Alice, as a character, shows us that while she goes through many emotions, sometimes treats others badly, and is sometimes nurturing and kind... it is how she sees herself that colors the story (this is a dream, after all). The moment that we get some inkling about how to get out of this chaos, is when we meet the Queen of Hearts, who suggests to us that the answer lies within us, not within our logic (or illogic, as the case may be). Confronting the Queen forces Alice to decide what she believes to be true, and Alice decides that the soldiers are simply playing cards, and therefore have no power over her.
While the story ends rather ambiguously (don't ours too?)... it does tell us that those moments when we are consumed by chaos, are moments of deciding what we truly believe and are about, in order to assert ourselves and walk forward with strength and purpose... to get ourselves home.
Interested in going deep with fairy tales? Intrigued by the possibility that these entertaining tales can provide us with a map to ourselves? We can have fun while we dive deep, developing awareness, self-compassion, and resilience as we go. Doing our inner work can be highly rewarding personally, and in relationship with family, friends, and colleagues. And it doesn't have to be serious and curmudgeonly. Join me for Moving From Stress To Resilience online beginning November 17th!
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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