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

The Friday Dose #80

760 FD Relax and Succeed - Forget the pages of your past

Prepare to be inspired. This video will do that. I write every day about realizing your true self and yet I recently realized that the reason the first 30 years of my life felt entirely charmed was because in a way it was. I was just trying to watch my own and other people’s thinking. What I didn’t realize is, that meant I had a detached view of myself. I was watching myself from an external perspective. It lead me to inadvertently treat my life more like a movie. I’d see something I was interested in and like a character I would move my little avatar toward that goal. Then–and now–when I operate the most in the flow of my most profound self–it’s like I am enacting the story of my own life.

That realization lead me to look for a video for the usual Friday Dose and I was shocked to find this first one. I can’t believe I haven’t run into it before now. But if you’re not sure you’re understanding what I mean about creating your own future, check Wise Joe Rogan out because this is exactly the point I wanted to make:

And if you found that inspiring, here’s a longer version to give you more nuance. Enjoy. And then go create yourself a great life because you are a great person.


Much love, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

Directing Your Life

Imagine your life as a high-tech movie that is shown as it is made. This movie will play only once, in only one direction, and only one frame will be in front of the bulb of consciousness at any given moment. That frame is known as the present moment. Once you have seen a frame you will never see it again. Since the film is being made as it’s shown, you do have the option to re-create a previous frame in a later scene, but it still won’t be the original frame—it’ll be a new one that you have purposefully built to look like the old frame. Life is always new, even if that newness is invested in reconstructing previous times.

525 Relax and Succeed - Life is like a movieKeep in mind that the film is being made as it is being shown. When we say we have become conscious, what we mean is that we have become aware of our role in the creation of our film/reality. If we change our thoughts we will change how things are. Can you see then how this saves you from suffering about the past? Can you see how, just by understanding this one point, you can be free of a big chunk of optional suffering?

Once you’re conscious you know that you decide which movie you’re making. So you know that you can’t blame flashbacks on the characters in the scenes. Those thoughts are yours. So if you’ve chosen to edit in some flashback from a painful time in your life then that is your choice. But then don’t expect to feel happy during a sad scene. If you want to re-construct an unpleasant past event then of course you get the emotions that go with it. It’s a very simple system. But likewise, being happy’s that easy too.

You’re the Director. You decide how you want your story told. If you choose to make horrors or maudlin dramas then don’t be surprised when you get the appropriate reactions. The real question is, are you going to choose to meaninglessly re-construct troublesome past experiences, or are you going to use that same psychological energy to create some new and worthwhile experience instead?

525 Relax and Succeed - She could never go backThe film that’s been shown has been shown. You can’t go back and fix the past. The more you return to it the more you keep it alive in the present moment. You can argue for how compelling it is. You can suggest it’s natural to re-live it. But none of that explains why you aren’t that way about dozens of other things in your life. No, sorry: you choose your thoughts. If you’re thinking painful ones then that is not because those thoughts weigh more or something strange like that. “Important thoughts” are ones you think often, whereas “unimportant thoughts” you barely think at all. That is the only difference between the two—the weight of your consciousness.

You can’t make a film by thinking about the scenes you’ve already shot. Those are done and you’ve moved on. You have to get focused on the scene you’re in. Using current scenes to meaninglessly repeat previous scenes is insane. Recognize your freedom and ability. Create scenes that are easy to enjoy. Forget the idea that you will make the present better by revisiting the past. Save yourself from your own flashbacks and be alive today instead.

Now go and have/create/direct yourself a wonderful day!

peace. s

Living With Fear

They play through your life all the time. Your dreams. The things you feel a compulsion to move toward. But you sit still instead, calculating all that could go wrong. Calculating the prices your psychology will pay if you fail. You imagine all of the disparaging thoughts the witnesses might think or say out loud. Meanwhile you look on enviously at others lives, 34 Relax and Succeed - Fear does not stop deathassuming theirs are better when really it’s just that you’re not fully living yours. Those fears keep holding you back. And when you think about it, those are strange fears to have. To not live your life because someone else might temporarily hold a judgmental thought in their consciousnesses? That’s what we’re all afraid of.

Back when I was writing exclusively for film and television I ran a BBS chatroom where local writers in my city could ask questions and debate ideas with top Hollywood professionals. There were Oscar and Emmy winners and nominees, and writers of many famous and beloved projects ranging all the way from Woody Allen movies to groundbreaking series and guilty pleasures like Cheers or Baywatch. Young or old, those were very generous writers and producers and we were all very lucky to have their daily guidance. Especially me. Because that experience lead me to meet and eventually become good friends with a wonderful man named Jack Sowards. Jack’s the man who famously killed Spock when he wrote Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.

For several years and for reasons I’ll never fully understand, Jack used to spend at least an hour a day on the phone with me and sometimes we’d be on for over four hours. Jack had learned a lot from other writers and he was known as a bit of a 34 Relax and Succeed - The worst enemy to creativityguru in Hollywood because he really enjoyed passing that knowledge on. And with me he had a super eager student. Even though it got to be a daily routine, I never stopped feeling lucky every time he called. As I matured as an artist I later realized I was actually in large part an aspect of his own fearful procrastination.

At one point it turned out that Jack and I were up for jobs at the same time. His was for a million-dollar re-write of some star-filled project and mine was for a smaller (but for me still very substantial), movie-of-the-week. We both found out the same day that we got the jobs and we had a wonderful conversation about how awesome it felt to be the chosen writers.

And then there was the next day.

I was in a panic. Every artist and most others will know this feeling; the feeling that you’re doomed. That there’s no way you’ll actually be able to pull it off and you’ll finally be exposed as a fraud. The feeling like everyone’s finally going to figure out that you’re just faking it. That you’re just pretending to know. That you really can’t do this incredibly hard thing. And you certainly can’t do hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars worth of it. I remember thinking, how can anything I just invent in my imagination be worth this kind of money?!  I was so worried I couldn’t write. Every word felt like it had to be worth hundreds of dollars. That makes them hard to choose. So I called my guru.

34 Relax and Succeed - Work hard do the best you canI’m glad you called.”
“Jack this is ridiculous. I can’t write anything worth this much money. I’m in way over my head.”
“I know. Me too.”

Wait a minute—what?

Jack was scared too? How could this guy who’d had hits—who’d been paid these amounts lots of times—how could he be worried? He did know what he was doing. He’d proved it numerous times. Oddly though, the news calmed me. Being in a group with Jack felt like a safe place to be as a writer.“You thought you weren’t supposed to be scared?” he said. “Scared’s part of the deal. Scared’s what you get all that money for. Scared is what most people won’t walk past to get to their real life.”

Is it any wonder I loved the guy? I thought all of these artists “above” me were all calm and collected and done. They were finished. They knew all they needed to know. In fact there is no such thing. Just when you’ve figured out how to be 20, you’re 30. And by the time you figure out how to be 30, you’re 40. And so it goes. As soon as a writer has a good list of skills, all they tend to notice are the skills they don’t yet have. They feel like that must be what’s preventing them from succeeding with their current project. But that’s not true. What’s preventing them from succeeding with their project isn’t what they don’t know—it’s their lack of use of what they do know.

34 Relax and Succeed - The only thing standing between you and your goalYour job isn’t to figure it all out and then live your life in some impressive way. Let me save you the time: there is no figuring it out. That’s like saying you have to know everything about music to create a song. I’m sure Mozart still felt like he still had much to explore. But the music he wrote came from what he knew, not what he didn’t know. You can’t create with knowledge or understanding you will have. So you just march forward and forget what everyone else thinks.

People’s judgments about your life are just words in the wind. Think about people in your family that have been dead for 20 years. Are people thinking a lot about what they did in their life, or does it come up once in a while and without much detail? And even if they did, do you imagine that bothers the deceased? Or the living? So what are you worrying about? The fact is, people are too busy studying their own lives to really focus much on ours, and so their opinions of us have more to do with them than us.

Be bold. Know that every great person dealt with tons of people who hated their choices and yet still they went on. They went on because they weren’t trying to be impressive—that would be impossible. Instead they trusted that strange tuning-fork that lives inside all of us. And by listening they heard it and it told them which way was theirs. They went past their fears simply because they felt that was their way to go.

34 Relax and Succeed - One should as a rule respect public opinionYou have those feelings too but you ignore them in favour of building barriers with word-based thoughts that focus on your fears. Your ego talks your spirit out of enacting itself. But those fears are only an ephemeral curtain of thought. They are the illusion that separates you from your own fulfilling life. Just like other people’s opinions.

Instead of looking at what someone else has look at what you have. Stop trying to get people to be impressed with your life and start actively loving your own life exactly as it is. Because truly loving it in the present moment without changes or adjustments is what allows us to see our way through the fear. And that’s important because past those fears is where your real life is.

Carpe Diem. Life: it’s yours for the taking.

peace. s