Pulling Back the Curtain

Pulling Back the Curtain

Pulling Back the Curtain  

If I were to ask you if you have a favorite scene from the movie The Wizard of Oz, what would come to mind? Flying monkeys? A melting witch? The Lollipop Guild? A singing scarecrow? Lions and tigers and bears, oh my?  For me, it's the scene where Toto pulls back the curtain and reveals that the previously fear-inducing Wizard of Oz is in truth just a frightened, insecure man, who at that very moment implores Dorothy and her companions to "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." 

    I love that scene because I can so easily relate to it and because I reference it so often in the work I do as a marriage and family therapist. In the context of our closest relationships, when are we most likely to treat others rudely? I know for me, it is when I am feeling most vulnerable, insecure, and unsure of myself, and am hiding those feelings behind a curtain of rudeness and false strength. When I share the image of the Wizard of Oz being exposed with clients, they almost always immediately recognize that they, too, are most prone to anger when they are feeling afraid and unsure of themselves.  

   Our Living Compass Wellness Initiative has a parent wellness program, and one of its core teachings is found in the photo meme above: "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don't say it mean." I find that the wisdom of this teaching extends well beyond parenting. 

     Many of us are familiar with the first two phrases of this teaching, but I think it is the third phrase, "Don't say it mean," that is most important, especially given the culture we live in where fear and insecurity often gives rise to "saying it mean."

     So the next time you experience someone "saying it mean"-whether that person is you, a child, a spouse, a boss, a public figure-or whomever, pause for a moment and think about Toto and the Wizard and see if that helps you to understand better what is going on. And on those occasions when that "someone" is ourselves, may we have the courage to step out from behind the curtain on our own, and overcome the fear of revealing our vulnerability to others.

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