Life Imitates Art…so they say

There’s that saying that “Life imitates Art”, yet I think really that art documents life, parodies life, suggests life.  Art also creates opportunities for us to escape, to feel and to embrace things that we may struggle to connect with in our day-to-day life.  From the minute we are born we are peppered with messages, both direct and indirect, about who we should be, how we should act and what we should want in our lives.  In some ways, art mimics life – or the life we’ve been told we want – or a life we might like to escape to.  Considering the many different forms of art available to us, I think we often forget that movies and television shows are considered art.  We can lose ourselves in them without seeing them for what they really are.  Like most artistic creations, they have the capacity to be a valuable learning tool!

This brings me to my confession.  I can most definitely be described as a movie fanatic.  In fact, I’ve been known to conduct entire conversations using only movie quotes, I consider it to be one of my quirky gifts.  For me, movies (and books) have been a safe haven for many years.  They’re reliable, predictable and easily digested.  I re-watch old favourites when I need to ground myself, I have special “crying movies” that I use when I need the cathartic release of a good cry, but don’t really have a reason for crying.  I have routines built around specific movies to signify certain times in my year.  One regular routine is watching all eight Harry Potter movies at the beginning of each school holidays so that I know it’s “school holiday time”.  Another is watching the best Christmas movie ever, Die Hard, to signify it’s nearly Christmas.  These routines allow my brain to switch into holiday or Christmas mode.  When I don’t follow these routines I can tell you that my holidays feel ALL WRONG.  It’s like wearing your favourite pyjamas when you’re relaxing. 

One of the beauties of this little quirk of mine though, is that I usually have a movie or scene to help reveal concepts about a situation you may find yourself in.  It reassures you that you aren’t unique or alone in what you’re going through.  I mean, if what you’re going through is in a movie, I think we can assume it’s a pretty common experience right?  It validates what you are going through and shows you that you aren’t alone at all. 

For instance, do you identify with this iconic scene?

Mean Girls has immortalised the struggle of surviving “girl world” in high school.  I often recommend that girls (and often boys) watch this movie with their parents to gain an understanding of the pitfalls of being a teenage girl.  Witty one-liners, hilarious scenes, eye-opening experiences all translate into a learning opportunity that is both fun and funny.  We learn about the “misfits” and lessons on friendship and honesty.  The moral of the story?  It’s better to be yourself than to be “plastic”. 

It’s also worth point out that there are also hidden dangers in movies as well.  One I find difficult is how romance movies often glorify abusive behaviours such as stalking, not taking no for an answer, punishing each other in relationships, the list goes on.  We adore the most interesting things, yet these all support a stereotypical outcome.  Boy meets girl, boy asks girl out, girl says no, boy keeps trying, boy stalks girl, boy hurts girl, boy eventually wears girl down until she agrees to go our with him.  It’s right up there with “he’s only treating you poorly because he likes you”.  I find this a terrible message to give our daughters, sisters and friends.  What we are actually saying is “you will be hurt by those who love you”.  Spend some time watching “traditional” romances and really look at the behaviour, it’s quite confronting.

Despite these dark sides, movies are a fun way for us to share our experiences and connect with others.  You only have to look at the myriad of fandoms to see how much connectivity can be generated by a movie or tv show.  We use them to escape reality, spend time with reliable “old friends”, to give us a justification for expressing an emotion we struggle to express by having crying movies, or watching a comedy when you need a good laugh.

Using movies as examples helps demonstrate to us ways of interacting, learning lessons about life and often starting to engage with long shut down emotions.  Movies are a way to have great examples for clients to learn, without having to suffer through all the uncomfortable experiences.  You get to project your feelings and experiences onto the fictional characters which makes it easier to process the feelings yourself.  In a way, it becomes less personal.

So, how exactly does this all relate to coaching?  Part of the coaching experiences is about identifying your personal barriers to growth.  These are often difficult to see from inside your own life, so watching a movie that shows the issue means you can gain greater perspective and start to objectively assess what you see.  This usually brings about a giant A-HA moment for you.  This moment is often the start of a shift in your life where you move out of the rut you have been in.  

You gain insight and experience with nit-picking your own life. It’s a gentle way to learn and unpack what has happened in your life, with the added bonus of relaxation time. It’s a fun way to deal with difficult topics and it’s great “homework” for you. I think we can agree that this can be a fun way to learn about your life lessons. Well guess what, when you work with me, that’s exactly what you get. Not only do you get access to all my experience, knowledge and skills, my training as a counsellor and coach and my years of working with women who are having the same struggles you are, but we get to have a bit of fun doing it as well. Homework like watching a movie and having relaxation time. Aligning your life doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, you’re allowed to have a bit of fun with it. No one wants to be working through their past without an entertainment break right?

Do you already channel movies for learning and want to keep doing that? Do you learn best by watching other people do things? Want to know more about how you too can have super cool homework and relax? Are you sitting there wondering if I have a movie recommendation that would help you understand your own unique story? Want to know more about how you can work with me to build an aligned life, and actually have some fun on the way? You can book your Alignment Call now or check out my Life Alignment Program to find out more!

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