So what is wickedness or evil? And how does somebody who is evil get to be that way?
Were they born like it or did life and all its twists and turns lead somebody to it?
I started off my New Year with a trip to the theatre to see Wicked. For those of you who are not acquainted with this brilliant, thought provoking, emotive and glorious master production, let me give you the low down.
In a nutshell, Wicked is the story of Elphaba (the wicked witch), a child born who is GREEN! It is the story of her life as she goes to school, meets Glinda (the good witch), discovers she has extremely strong magical powers, and how she comes to be seen as a outcast instead of the strong, compassionate girl she really is. I love the way the plot is intertwined with parts from the Wizard of Oz. We learn how the tin man came to lose his heart and how the Scarecrow had no brain.
If you have been to see it, then you will know exactly where I’m coming from. There were some very powerful messages that I thought were worth sharing. See what you think as maybe some of us are all ‘unconsciously’ wicked (there is no light without dark). In fact, it’s when we embrace our shadows that we learn and grow.
Elphaba for one reason or another became the Wicked Witch of the West and in spite of her kindness and strength, she couldn’t shake it off. It’s so hard when you get a reputation or are known for something to change it. Reality is perception, This is the same when we label our children. Not only do they grow into the role we give them (as their whole raison d’etre is to win our love and approval), but it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.
Labels stick. Be careful how you talk about your children when they are around and what you call them. See the good as often as you possibly can.
According to an online survey, three fifths of people form their opinions of others within 5 minutes of meeting them. More than a third said appearance was everything when forming first impression. A quarter of (rather judgmental) respondents admitted that they always evaluate someone by their appearance alone. So, it’s easy to see how the cabbage green faced girl Elphaba fitted into the role of evil witch.
- Do you worry about what other people think of you?
- Do you worry what other people think of your parenting?
- Do you worry about what other people think of your children? They are not a reflection of you – they are separate human beings with a mind and spirit of their own
- Do you think your life / your children / your home has to look a certain way in order to meet a certain ideal?
If you answered yes to more than one of the above, I’m afraid you might be looking for approval in all the wrong places. This is a lose-lose situation which will give you plenty of opportunities to be annoyed. Externally validating ourselves like Glinda the Good Witch who in the play becomes addicted to being popular and liked by everybody. This is a never ending search: the quest for validation. It actually comes from inside of us. We need to know that we are good for who we are at our very core and not what we do or what other people think we should be doing.
What other people think doesn’t matter. You are not in control of what they think. They are going to have an opinion about you anyway. Just live your life and be YOU! Like yourself for who you are.
Things are never what they seem anyway. That woman who ignored you when you waved at her this morning on the way to school. You know who I am talking about; the one whose child you don’t want to come to your house for a playdate. Well she didn’t even see you. She was busy being annoyed with the useless and disorganised form teacher who had forgotten to call her. Little did she know, this teacher was frantically driving to visit her sick mother in hospital.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~Henry David Thoreau
We never really know what is going on for somebody else, so next time somebody behaves in a way that shocks or disappoints, have a think about what might be going on for them. People are rarely consciously thoughtless, difficult or angry without reason.
When it comes to our children, it’s easy for us to make judgements when they are behaving in ways that we disapprove of. That is our fear talking. She is screaming so loudly, she is going to grow up to be a spoilt brat. She is not very good at sharing, she is going to grow up without any friends. If we suspend judgement, we can find ourselves in a different place as we gently guide and show our child how to learn the ways of the world.
Judgement is not truth or fact. It is based on assumptions and opinion. Our dissatisfaction about how somebody is and our desire for them to be how we want them to be is controlling and not allowing. Allowing people to be who they really are is love.
4. The Blame Game
In the play, Elphaba is blamed for something she didn’t do. She is made the Scapegoat for the wizard when she does not follow his orders. Scapegoating is blame at its most abusive. It’s natural to want to blame somebody or something when things go wrong. Blame is not conducive to problem solving or finding a win-win outcome for anybody. When we are blaming we are not taking responsibility. Blame makes everybody defensive and less trusting. It’s the reason kids lie to their parents.
Blame causes mistrust and prevents people being accountable. This is the same when you blame yourself for your child’s shortcomings. The problem with this way of thinking is that we learn to rely on other people taking care of us and not being in control makes us powerless. What we want to feel is empowered and feel as if we have a choice in the matter. It’s not about blame, it’s about working together to solve a problem and make it better. Read more here
Can you believe I got all this from a musical? Well that’s what goes on inside the mind of a Life Coach! My work follows me everywhere and besides, it is my job to make sense of life and stories to tell my little clients of how none of these things matter. In fact last week, I used the words from ‘For Good’ to demonstrate to children that our friendships shape us and help us grow as people.
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you.
I’m proud to say that the soundtrack is now on my itunes allowing me to relive the experience over and over in my head. It has stayed with me. The words of the songs whirling round in my head. My favourite song is Defying Gravity. This is a big number with Elphaba flying high in the sky realising that she doesn’t have to conform to what the wizard wants (he turned out to be a Dictator who was all mouth and no trousers!) and if she is to reach her full potential, she is to follow her heart even if that means losing love from those around her. She sings
I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner fly
You can have a listen and see if it moves you just as much (it starts at 1:26 of this video). It had me sobbing!
So I hope I have not spoilt too much of the play for those of you who haven’t seen it and that you are tempted to go and see it. If you have seen it, let me know if there were any other messages you took away with you. Please write them in the comments below.