Real Princesses Have Real Problems

1302 Relax and Succeed - Princess Grace

Blinding expectation leads many of us to struggle with achieving our goals. Since everyone’s primary goal is belong, we tend to expect the love and acceptance we seek to come in a particular form, which causes us to miss when we’re actually getting offered what we need.

A good example of this innocent mistake can be seen in the film Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman as an extremely impressive version of the real princess (and Tim Roth doing an equally brilliant turn as her husband, Prince Rainier). It’s a stellar cast and script, but in today’s age of action heroes these sorts of profoundly human stories too often get ignored.

The fact that the writer managed to tell a profoundly human story about a princess was no easy feat. I’m not sure how accurate the film is (I do know a friend of Prince Albert’s –their son– and will try to find out), but for the purposes of this piece all that matters is that the writer a) used a very real event in history and, b) he accurately portrayed the princess making a common human mistake.

The backstory is that Grace Kelly grew up as the daughter of a wealthy American businessman. Grace constantly felt inferior to her sister and unloved and disrespected by her parents. Many people can relate to those feelings which is what makes a film about a princess, universal.

People short on love from the sources we’re told we ‘should’ get it from (like our parents), will often then seek that love in a much shallower, but broader sense from a much larger group of people simply because it’s safer. Who notices a few people not clapping in a room full of clapping people? Celebrity love is spread thinly enough to act as a form of fallibility insurance.

This is why many unloved people seek to be stars of various types. (It’s also why the disenfranchised in society join gangs and hate groups.) We all move towards people who care for us. That is where we are accepted and safe, and the highest form of love is love without conditions.

That is where we are accepted and safe, and the highest form of love is love without conditions.

Needing to feel cared for and admired, it’s no surprise that Grace the disappointing daughter had a decent likelihood of ending up in a job where she was loved regularly by people too distant to disappoint her. But despite her fame and success as an actress, she still did not feel accepted or respected by her family, and her mother refused to offer anything more than cold comfort.

As a demonstration of how important acceptance is to human beings, Grace’s response to not being respected and loved was to be swept off her feet into a fairy tale wedding with a Prince. Surely being Royalty would impress her family. Surely being a princess was romantic. But apparently not.

Grace’s problem in the film is that she wants to be loved so desperately. But her husband has a duty to the State and plays the sort of role that means he cannot be the husband she seeks. He is an able and trustworthy partner, but he was raised in too rigid a life to have developed the warm sensibilities she sought.

But remember what we said about expectation? Grace’s problem wasn’t that she couldn’t get love and respect, it’s that she kept trying to get it from people that couldn’t give it. For her parents it was pride and ego that were in the way; for her husband, duty and decorum.

1302 Relax and Succeed - The Meaning of Life

Critical to the story is that her marriage overlapped a crises for the Principality of Monaco. Having no taxes, France saw all of her businesses leaving the nation for Monaco. De Gaulle –the former French Resistance leader turned President of France– wanted Prince Rainier to force a tax on the Monaco’s citizens.

France had complete control of Monaco’s utilities, supply chains and harbours. They had little to bargain with. De Gaulle was threatening tanks in their streets.

The turning point in the story is when Grace realizes that her husband does love her, but must play his role. She also realizes that Monaco needs her, and that her own role actually means something.

Grace is media savvy, and so she knows that even Presidents are subject to public opinion. By surrendering her efforts to get love from a singular source like her parents, or her husband, Grace was free to become her own person by serving her people in the greatest role of her life –that of their Princess.

Grace didn’t need love as much as she needed to be valued.

I would like to think that the final scene captures the moment fairly honestly, because the very quiet and subtle film wraps up rather neatly and beautifully with the results of Grace’s growth.

In a metaphor of her own life, Princess Grace not only cleverly saves the nation (no spoiler for you there –it is still there after all), but in doing so she demonstrates that a person’s ability to value themselves does not depend on the fickle love of others.

Our self-worth is inherent. Once we become aware of that we have few needs, from there we need only find how to serve with the abundance that is us –not enacting what we have to offer is as painful as not knowing it’s there.

We are at our best when we feel secure about ourselves. Without the debilitating drag of our insecurities, were are automatically left with an abundance of love to share with others. So rather than expecting love to come to us in the form of affection, we need to maintain an awareness of the fact that some of love’s greatest forms are actually found in the sense of exaltation that can only be created by sincerely giving our all.

peace, s

MoK: Tolerance as Kindness

Thank you all very much for your patience while I’ve been ill. It turns out that your patience is quite fitting, because today our March of Kindness assignment will involve determining the subtle difference between patience and tolerance.

We feel patience with someone when we perceive that they generate some degree of value in our lives that we do not want to lose. Maybe that value is that they’re the clerk at the store and we need their help to purchase something that has value to us, or maybe it’s a co-worker whose advice you value and so you offer to look after their dog while they’re away, or maybe it’s a very sick spouse that has such tremendous value that their partner can serve them for many years, despite receiving no reciprocation. It all depends on how much one person perceives the other’s value.

Because we start from a position of goodwill, we tend to use the word patience for situations we deem as reasonable. We begin to use the word tolerance once we feel we’re extending past what is reasonable or, in other words, past the point where the other person’s value has run out in proportion to the request being made. But what about those people that start with no value in our emotional bank?

When meeting most strangers very few of us will presume the worst, and many of us will presume something so positive that we’ll offer our own positivity in advance. But there are some people that we immediately assume we’ll be out of alignment with. The reasons don’t matter much; maybe we have unpleasant history between us, or maybe they’re just in a group we’ve defined as undeserving of our patience, but when people have no deposits in our patience bank then they are immediately borrowing from our tolerance account. This form of kindness is more dangerous to us, like an unsecured loan; where we’re unsure–even suspicious–about ever being paid back.

When we use tolerance we’re no longer investing in value we will receive ourselves, tolerance is an investment in the Bank of Karma. That’s when–instead of believing in an individual manifestation of a person–we believe that the fundamental oneness of the universe is expansive, or “good.” We believe on some elemental level that if we put positivity in, some positivity will result for someone, somewhere. Today we want to use tolerance as a way of sending some of that good karma out.

Today’s act in our March of Kindness will be to actually seek out people or ideas that we traditionally have no tolerance for. Maybe all we do is comment on a politician we see in the media, or maybe we’re aggressive with street people, or a we’re a contrarian on social media, or maybe some stranger’s just asking you for directions and you don’t want to be disturbed; the idea is that the kindness you show today has no value to you personally–in fact, your expression of it may exact a small price.

As I stated previously, we don’t improve the world unless we convert some darkness into light, so today’s act is particularly important. All you have to do is find one example of where you would offer negativity–a comment, a judgment, a challenge, a rebuke–and instead offer tolerance.

There’s a lot of us, so if we each just take one bit of negativity and, instead of offering it to the world, we hold it back out of a sense of kindness and tolerance, then we will absolutely have made the world a better place. That’s where we all want to live, and the March of Kindness is about helping us get there. Thank you for participating in our collective journey.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Man School

Let’s imagine Man School. This is where a boy goes to learn to be a man. Input comes through a screen and some speakers. All the parts of the brain and body are present and ready to learn. The Brain at the front of the class narrates for the other body parts.

T940 Relax and Succeed - I have reached the stagehis boy does not have a great role model but he does pretty well because he does something quite rare; he trusts his own internal guidance more than what he’s told and shown. Keep in mind that this is also how both of his parents learned to be a Mom and a Dad:

Brain: Okay everyone, ready? Remember, we’ll be spending most of our time and we’ll get most of our guidance from The Mother, but since we’re a Boy let’s keep a close eye on what The Dad does, okay? Okay Eyelids, open up, it’s morning.

Brain: Okay okay she’s taken us into the kitchen for what is called breakfast. Tongue, we know you love the part called bacon. Stomach, see if you can remind me with some gurgling to slow down on the coffee so we don’t have to get all the Nerves jangling later?

Stomach: Consider it done. This’ll be good, a bunch of the muscles have been complaining about wanting more protein.

Brain: This is what we eat on what’s called a Weekend. Okay hold on: she has a list for him. Okay our part is the reaction; we’re the boy…. Okay, we apparently do not like lists. Face, please practice frowning while I access Memory for some excuses for the mouth and vocal chords.

Face: No problem. I practice that one a lot.

BRelax and Succeed - When you speak to your spouserain: Nice work Face. Nice work. Okay, let’s see. Apparently if we disagree it appears the other person will become more insistent. See that Face? She’s giving us an angry and disappointed look.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

Brain: Okay they’re both upset about not getting what they want. Watch the man: no, he doesn’t like that. Now he’s mad so he’s yelling. So if you want something and you don’t get it and it’s a weekend and a meal then we yell. Got that diaphragm and vocal chords?

Diaphragm: We’ll need an extra push from the stomach.

Stomach: You can count on me. I’m like steel down here.

Brain: Okay, Legs see that? If I don’t tell you otherwise, you walk toward her fast like that. And arm do you see how he’s got his Hand cocked back in that fist?

Eyes: She looks terrified. I think that’s because of his Hand.

Hand: Why would I do that?

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

940 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes I open my mouthBrain: I’m not sure. Maybe we find out as we grow up. For these first few years we just copy what we see. If it needs to change we can learn that later when we learn things in a non-experiential way. It’s not an easy or effective way to learn but it can happen.

Memory: Should I get Ears to jot down all those names he’s calling her? They seem mean. I don’t really want them.

Brain: Sorry memory, everything gets stored, but if it hurts I’ll do my best not to access those files very often okay? But in general whether it’s words or actions; if you see it a lot, do it a lot. If you only see it every now and then; just throw one in once in awhile.

Hand: By the way, I’m not in a fist anymore. Now I’m grabbing her hair and shaking her. I don’t like how this feels.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

Eyes: It looks bad too. Are you sure this is how this is supposed to go?

Gut: Yeah, this feels off to me.

Heart: Yeah I like that lady more than anyone.

940 Relax and Succeed - Experience is not what happensBrain: Hey guys, I feel the same way but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. You know they made me brain because I’ll faithfully copy down what I see. I’ll do my best later to improve on this but this is how we’re built, I’m sorry. The best we can hope for is for the parents to behave in a healthy way.

Gut: Okay fine, but I’ve got an idea. It’s actually pretty clever, I’ll bet not many people think of it but; if we have to wire this behaviour in then let’s wire in a reverse switch too. None of us likes it. So let’s take all of those signals and let’s use them for the opposite of all of this stuff.

Hands: You mean like holding and stroking hair and cuddling instead of grabbing and shaking her?

Gut: Yeah. If we like her and she’s upset then let’s hold her instead, okay?

Eyes: So if I see her crying we don’t yell we hug?

Gut: Yeah.

Arms: I like that.

Chest: Me too.

Brain: Does everyone agree?

Mouth: That’s a lot of programming to reroute. Can I blow any extra energy off as yelling?

940 Relax and Succeed - The only person you are destined to becomeEars: It’s not ideal, could you work on it?

Mouth: Absolutely. I thought it would just help dispel some of the energy if I could transfer to something less destructive.

Brain: All of us find yelling quite loud so I know none of us are big fans so if you need to because of this programming then we get it. But let’s agree no shaking and no hitting and we don’t like mean names–and we only yell if we absolutely have to. We’re still allowed to experience pain but it would still be better to go for a walk.

Legs: I’d do that.

Mouth: What should we yell at?

Brain: How about our inability to not yell?

Mouth: Then I’ll feel dumb.

Brain: Good. I’m hoping if you do that enough times that maybe it’ll just stop.

Ears: Sounds good.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.