Guest blog by Maria Grace, Ph.D
Author of Reel Fulfillment: A 12-Step Plan for Transforming Your Life Through Movies
How would you like Kevin Costner to coach you on how to resolve work problems and make more money?
Would you like Diane Lane's advice on how to grow stronger from a divorce and meet your real soul mate? Or Michelle Pfeiffer's guidance to raise your kid as a single parent?
In my practice as a psychotherapist and life improvement mentor, I teach my clients how their favorite movie stars can become their personal success coaches, in five simple steps. You can try the same steps to change your life. All you need are your favorite movies and the desire to succeed. Here's how:
1. Identify three top qualities you love in a movie character. Why do you love a movie character? Is it only because of the looks or because of certain qualities this character portrays in movies? This step asks you to identify these character qualities, name them, and write them down. Make a list of the three most important qualities. This is how my client Tracy applied this step to win her weight-loss battle. Tracy had a fixation on Julia Roberts because of the actor's thin looks. But after I asked Tracy a few questions, she realized that she liked Julia Roberts because the characters she portrays in movies show remarkable qualities that Tracy desired for herself. In "Erin Brockovich", Julia Robert's character shows determination and patience. In "Mona Lisa Smile", she shows loyalty to her values and courage. In "Runaway Bride" she corrects her self-sabotaging patterns with men. And in "Notting Hill" she follows her heart. Tracy's list of three top qualities was: loyalty to her values, patience and courage.
2. Identify your most present problem life area. Is it money, your love life, lack of self-motivation, difficulties with your kids? Pick the problem area that is the most present. Now, go to your list of three qualities. You will discover that you are not applying at least two of them. If you do, your problem area will improve quickly. In this step, Tracy discovered that her most present problem area wasn't her weight, but communication with her boyfriend. She also realized that she wasn't applying all three qualities on her list. She didn't show loyalty to her values or patience with her shortcomings, or courage to follow through with her decisions.
3. Choose one quality and apply it through actions. From your list, pick one quality that you know you can practice with success. Write down one thing you can do to practice this quality with your family, friends, and coworkers. Be consistent and practice this new behavior for a week-by then, you'll see results. Tracy chose "loyalty to her values" and decided to practice it by sticking to her choices and not giving into her boyfriend's opinions. She chose to say "This is how I like it," every time her boyfriend pushed her to agree with his ways.
4. Ask your favorite movie character for help. There will be times when you'll experience drawback, get impatient, or need encouragement to stay focused. Don't despair. Take a break from practice and watch your favorite movie. Afterwards, have a private, imaginary dialogue with your favorite movie character, like you'd do with a dear friend. Ask for help, advice and support. Note the answers you get. Tracy learned how to "talk" to Julia Roberts and find the strength to stay firm in her beliefs. She practiced those imaginary dialogues a few times, until she realized that she no longer needed Julia's "help". Now she could say "This is how I like it" and mean it.
5. Move on to the next quality. Be persistent and you will soon begin to see significant changes. Don't stop there. Success builds on itself. Once you have internalized the first quality of your favorite movie character, move onto the next. Practice it for some time and enjoy more improvements in your life. You can do it!
After Tracy proved that she could stay loyal to her values, she moved on to practicing patience. Within days, she noticed a difference in her attitude. She stopped obsessing about her weight and felt more self-confident, relaxed and hopeful. Her body responded: the weight started coming off. "I thought you were kidding about me watching Julia Roberts' movies to lose weight," she told me smiling, in our last session. "But now I see that you wanted to me to find my happily ever after in real life just as Julia Roberts finds hers in the movies."