Things we can learn from Cinderella

A couple of days ago, my daughter and I went to see the new Disney Cinderella film. We all know the story. A young girl is forced to work as a servant by her wicked stepmother and step-sisters when her father dies. She meets a prince and lives happily ever after.

Disney do a good job of re-making films like this. They are also very good at including powerful lessons – if you are listening for them.

“Have courage and be kind” says Cinderella’s mother on her death bed.

With this mantra, Cinderella is able to take on what happens to her when her whole life changes. For each thing that happens to her, she uses this mantra to appreciate the moment. When she gets put in the dusty old attic she appreciates that she will have peace from her sisters. When she gets locked away from the prince when he is looking for someone to try on the shoe, she dances and smiles because she will always have her memories.

As I discussed it with my daughter after the film, I pointed out that most of us struggle to enjoy the moment in that way. Things that comes from our past or worries about our future become a story that defines us. We don’t see that we can write our story in a better way.

It reminded of a book I read which really resonated with me. In “The Obstacle is the Way” Ryan Holiday looks at how we approach those things that challenge us. It is a lovely, easy read.

At a point later in the film, Cinderella is being locked in her room.

Why are you doing this to me? She asks her stepmother

It’s interesting phrasing. Most of us would ask “What have I done wrong?”. We assume there is something wrong with us. Because her mother told her to be kind and have courage, Cinderella does not take her stepmother’s behaviour as being about her, but rather as being a problem with her stepmother. This takes some doing; to not feel like we have done something wrong, to accept that everyone is screwed up and that people acts based on their own issues, not yours.

So I took two powerful messages from the film (which was also nice to watch, by the way)

  1. A moment is as good or as bad as you make it. It is your thoughts that define your experience
  2. You are only responsible for your own behaviour, not that of others.

Now these lessons are all well and good, but when your subconscious hijacks you then you no longer have the freedom to choose to see things in a different way. You lose your ability to think.

That’s where I come in. I free you up to think. So if you need my help, drop an email to and let me work with you to free you.

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