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Movies are a part of the fabric of our lives and influence our thoughts, behaviors and culture more than we realize.  The big screen can introduce us to new ideas, educate, inspire, scare and motivate us or create unrealistic expectations for life, romance and ourselves.

Since entertainment is a shared experience that most of us can relate to, I find that concepts we see in movies often make their way into the therapy room.  So, I have curated a list of my favorite life lessons from the movies.  Grab some popcorn, settle in and enjoy!

1) The ruby slippers.  One of my favorite quotes, that I often share with my clients, is from Glinda (the good witch) in the Wizard of Oz.  She tells Dorothy, “you’ve had the power all along my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself”.  Glinda is referring to the ruby slippers that Dorothy had been wearing since her start on the yellow brick road.  As a therapist, I know that each of us is wearing our own pair of ruby slippers, and are stronger, braver and more capable than we realize.  Sometimes you just need a little reminder to “click your heels together” and find your power to create the life you want.

2) “You complete me.”.  To me, this famous line from the movie Jerry McGuire, uttered in the middle of a divorced women’s group, is one of the most un-romantic movie lines of all time.  Yes, most of us wouldn’t mind being on the receiving end of Tom Cruise lovingly state this, but in reality it is not what you want in a relationship.  “You complete me” indicates a neediness and reliance on the other person to make you whole.  As a therapist, I would write that line as something like this, “I’m complete and I see you are complete too, want to go through this journey of life together while supporting each other’s growth?”  So, you can see why I’m a therapist and not a screenwriter!

3) Expectations vs. Reality Scene.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie 500 Days of Summer is when Tom is faced with the stark difference between what he expected to happen upon reconnecting with his past love at a party, and what actually happens.  The expectation versus reality is played out on a split screen and is a bittersweet moment full of emotion.  I often remind my clients of this scene because it is a shared experience, it’s comforting to know that we all go through times in our lives where we feel disappointed, let down and wonder if we will ever be happy again.  Spoiler alert!  Later in the movie Tom meets someone new and appears back on track in the love department…. and, spoiler alert, the same happens for most of us in our own challenges, it’s just hard to remember that in the midst of hard times.

4) “And they lived happily ever after.”.  This simple line uttered at the end of almost every Disney movie sets up majorly unrealistic expectations about relationships.  As I tell the couple’s I work with doing pre-marital counseling, “you will live happily, sadly, joyfully, angrily, lovingly, etc ever after”.  Relationships are by nature constantly in flux and changing, there are ebbs and flows in which we can learn, grow and strengthen ourselves and our relationships.  But putting the expectation that anything other than happiness is to be expected in relationships is very misleading.

Not only are you the star of your own story, you are the screenwriter too.  If you can relate to some of these life lessons and would like to apply them to your life, contact me to learn more about how we can work together at [email protected] or 424-302-8227.

Author: Stephanie Macadaan

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. I love working with couples and individuals to find strength, growth and empowerment through their struggles and challenges.