Love Lessons From 'Oz The Great & Powerful'

ruby slippers
Love, Self

Plus: how "the wizard" will ruin your relationship.

I recently went to see the new Disney movie "Oz the Great and Powerful." You see, as a psychologist and author of the book Follow the Yellow Brick Road: How to Change for the Better When Life Gives You Its Worst, I took a special interest in this film. In my book, I devote an entire chapter to the concept of the wizard, and it is through this lens that I warn my clients to watch out; the wizard will wreck your relationship.

Let me begin by explaining that I define a "wizard" as anything or anyone we believe will rescue us from a challenge, including a relationship challenge. Wizards always promise to deliver us from life's most difficult issues and, in the end, make us happy. For this reason, wizards become "great and powerful" in our minds.

An alcoholic's wizard might be a glass of red wine. An actor's wizard might be his "big break." A father might make the success of his son into a wizard (you've seen these parents at soccer games). All these things, when made into a wizard, promise to make us happy.

It is important to note that some of these things are good in their own right. There is nothing inherently wrong with a nice glass of wine or a successful child. Rather, the problem is (1) the mindless pursuit of the wizard and (2) the belief that something else or someone else is inevitably responsible for our happiness ... and there is no place more ripe for that mistake to be made than in our romantic relationships.

To this extent, "Oz the Great and Powerful" is true to form with my rendering of the psychological meaning of the wizard. In the movie, Oz, a magician in a traveling circus (and a con artist, to boot), gets swept away in a balloon to this strange and wonderful land, interestingly named after himself. (What are the odds?!) Once there, he is seen as the fulfillment of a prophecy and quickly awarded the role of wizard.

The prophecy predicts that a stranger will arrive who will rescue the whole land from the tyranny of a wicked witch. Anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of a "wizard" knows about the metaphorical prophecy that the great and powerful will come and make everything all better. We can see this in romantic relationships. We grew up waiting for our prince (or princess) to come. We dieted on romantic stories where "true love" conquers all and where the couple lives happily ever after. And while most educated people do not intellectually believe this idealism, there still can be a younger part of ourselves, like the people in the Land of Oz, awaiting our true love who will bring us happiness. But beware: This is a set-up for disaster. Keep reading ...

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