The Wizard of Oz and Emotional Well-Being

The Wizard of Oz has been a family classic for decades. Above and beyond the capturing story, music, and cinematography, there are six hidden messages that offer powerful insights into the emotional health and well-being of human beings. 

Getting stuck happens to everyone.

No matter your gender, ethnicity, race, age, or profession, all humans get stuck. Getting emotionally attached to everyday life situations is a natural part of being human. The main characters in The Wizard of Oz illustrate this truth. The movie opens depicting Dorothy stuck on fear, frustration, and aversion (after a mishap with her neighbor, Miss Gulch.) Later we meet the Scarecrow who is stuck on disbelief and helplessness, the Tin Man who is stuck on hopelessness and gloom, and the Lion who is stuck on paralysis and anxiety. One of the greatest strengths of this movie is the admission of the humanity of each character.

Humans require tools to get unstuck.

While getting stuck is a natural human tendency, getting unstuck is not. Humans benefit from the use of tools to guide them out of emotionally challenging situations.

When Dorothy first finds herself in The Land of Oz, she is in a state of shock. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, presents Dorothy with a metaphorical tool, The Yellow Brick Road, to support her on her journey back home. Without being equipped with such a tool to guide her, Dorothy would have remained stuck in Munchkin Land forever.  

Emotional health and well-being is a journey, not a one-stop deal.

Taking responsibility for your emotional health and well-being is an on-going lifestyle commitment, and not a quick fix. Glinda explains that Dorothy must “start at the very beginning,” rather than rushing to fix everything at once. Rather than flying to Emerald City on some magical flying creature, Dorothy exemplifies patience as she diligently places one foot in front of the other, and stays open and curious to the many opportunities from which she can learn while on her journey.

Watch the mind: It may innocently work against you.

While you may consciously desire to create change in your life, your mind may unconsciously, innocently work against you. The mind works most efficiently when it runs on default thinking in old habits and patterns, rather than new, expanded ways of thinking.

The Wicked Witch of the West appears throughout the movie trying to convince Dorothy and her friends they will never succeed in arriving at Emerald City, let alone alive. The determined witch symbolizes a person’s limiting beliefs and negative thought pattern. It is only when the Scarecrow inadvertently kills the witch at the end of the movie that the characters recognize the freedom and growth opportunities that arise when limiting beliefs are extinguished. 

Everyone needs a coach.

While creating an emotionally healthy life is possible to do on your own, having support along the way can strengthen and motivate you, and can move you forward beyond what you may be able to do on your own. Both the Wizard of Oz and Glinda empower the main characters by helping them consider other possible ways of looking at their individual stories. When each character commits to taking on a new perspective, it propels them forward in their self-image and in their relationships. 

Everyone has the power to inspire others.

In today’s age, it often feels that the people who inspire us most are the famous athletes, actors and actresses, and politicians. But, the truth of the matter is, each and every human has the power to inspire another human being. Dorothy exemplifies this when she positively influences her friends to join her to go to Emerald City so they can create the changes in their lives they want to see. She empowers them not so much in her words, but rather in her actions — modeling her commitment to creating the change she wants to see in her life.

The Wizard of Oz is a beloved movie for people of all ages. I was charmed as a child, but I was even more captivated when watching this movie as an adult and while wearing the glasses of a well-being coach. There is so much wisdom embedded in this magical movie that it’s worth watching in order to cherish those gems.

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