What Doesn't Kill Us

The new psychology of posttraumatic growth

What Can We Learn From the Wizard of Oz?

You have the answers within you.

In the story of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion defeat the wicked witch and return to the Emerald City. The Great Wizard has promised to grant their wishes if they defeat the witch. Dorothy hopes to return to Kansas, the Tin Man desires a heart, the Lion, courage and the Scarecrow, brains.

Cowering before the booming voice of the Wizard, Dorothy and her chums ask him to fulfill his promise. But by accident, the curtain falls away. The Wizard is revealed as a small old man speaking into a megaphone and pulling frantically at levers. It is all smoke and mirrors.

The Wizard realizes that his deception has been revealed. I’m not a bad man, just a bad wizard, he says.

But Dorothy’s chums insist he keeps his promise. The Wizard presents the Scarecrow with a certificate, the Tin Man with a clock and the Lion with medals. He is a wise man who knows that the human qualities of brains, heart, and courage cannot be given. As such, he offers his gifts allegorically. In giving these gifts he acknowledges that, through their trials and tribulations, what Dorothy’s companions are seeking was always within themselves. During their adventures, the Scarecrow had admirably shown his brains, the Tin Man his heart and the Lion his bravery. Not realizing that the gifts are only allegorical, Dorothy’s chums dance with delight.

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Too often, we act like tin men, scarecrows and cowardly lions, blithely expecting others to provide the solutions to our difficulties.

These solutions are actually within us. Other people cannot tell us what meanings to make or what directions we should take in our lives. That has to come from us.

We have to learn to listen carefully to ourselves and not let our own voices be drowned out by others.

Extract from: What Doesn’t Kill Us: A Guide to Overcoming Adversity and moving Forward. (Piatkus, 2013)  See: http://www.profstephenjoseph.com/books

 

 

Stephen Joseph, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology, health, and social care at the University of Nottingham, UK, and author of What Doesn't Kill Us.

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