I was recently asked if ‘You were a brand what brand would you be?’ ‘What brand would describe your personality?’ Wow great soul searching questions and the answer? I would be Disney. (And seriously for a natural conscious earth respecting hippie like myself I was shocked at this however the fact remained that I as a brand I would be Disney.) Creative, playful. A Walt Disney quote is even one of my mantras “If you can dream it, you can do it”.
The more I thought about it the more I wondered why is it that I connect so much with Disney? And the answer came to me relatable characters, adversity and bravery to follow their dreams and stories that connected with me at the right place and time in my life when I needed to hear a particular message. Honestly the Little Mermaid was me at 11, rash and daring, Belle at 14, desperate to go out into the world and escape my small town life, Mulan the warrior facing and winning against all the odds inspired me in my partially homeless 20s and Tiana now in my 30’s determined to create my dream into reality. I have been a constant Peter Pan all of my days, with the optimism of Winnie the Pooh and lived all of the fears and bravery of Piglet. And not forgetting Up, the film that inspires and epitomises my dream of a true love and partnership.
Most of us have a favourite Disney film and a favourite character. But have you ever thought about what your connection to that story and character is ? (Apart from your tshirts, mugs and cuddly toys either hidden about the home or proudly displayed.) Every story we have heard or seen and remembered has affected us on a conscious or unconscious level. As we feel drawn to a character we admire them, their personality traits their resilience. I mean who wouldn’t love to have Rapunzel’s effectiveness in housework chores. Seriously though these characters we love display qualities we wish to possess or mimic. For example take my connection with Belle. She didn’t fit in, neither did my 14 year old self. She didn’t seem to care and stayed determinedly herself, my 14 year old self desperately wanted to do that. Belle made sacrifices for her father who she loved and put his needs before her own. Something I have always done (although the latter was not a healthy experience it did teach me a lot). Her story is as much a transformation as the Beast’s and oh didn’t my bespeckled, teeth braced awkward self want the transformation from bookish outsider to a loved and appreciated beauty.
These films, these characters we identify with have messages for us all throughout our lives if we look for them. Recently I re-saw Beauty and the Beast and I was shocked at the power of my emotions. Honestly I was crying and afterwards when I looked at which songs I had been so moved by I realised that my life situation at the moment was reminding me a lot of my teenage gawky school days as I now face my recent Asperger’s diagnosis and living in an entirely new place. The film helped me see the challenge clearly and from that I have now been able to work with it.
Try watching your favourite Disney movie. Make notes of where you feel emotional pulls. Who do you identify with and why? How does this character, plot line relate to you now or in the past. Journal this and see if you can find a teaching in the message the film has given you. (And sorry no I cannot be more specific the message is yours to interpret I can’t guide you there, just keep looking until you find the answer).
Disney characters can also be used as a way of identifying our ideal personalities. Now please don’t get me wrong I am not saying any one Disney character is absolutely perfect, they are not. However as I mentioned before they have qualities we admire that we would like to see in ourselves.
Think about the qualities of your favourite character. What do you admire in them? Write a list. Now look at each quality ask yourself how am I like this? If you cannot see this but would like to then ask yourself ,how can I bring this quality into my life?
Many years ago I found out quite by accident that not only can Disney character’s help us learn about ourselves, they can also act as motivators and inspiration. A girlfriend was in a bad situation. She loved Pocahontas. So I, in my desperation to help ,asked what she though Pocahontas would do. To my surprise her body language took on a different quality. Her head went back and she knew exactly how her favourite character would have handled her situation. So I told her to connect with her inner Pocahontas when she need the bravery to face her problem. A few days later she was on top of the world and the problem was on her way to being solved! I have tried this time and time again and I have always found it works. We just find it easier sometimes to think through another’s perspective and character. Plus when we think of them we smile and feel good, which just goes to show Disney is doing what it does best if it can evoke that feeling even years after we have seen a film.
Or maybe it is as Tinkerbell said “Imagination has no age”. So allow yourself to connect with your inner child and find your secret Disney identity this week. Allow the magical kingdom to open doors and pathways to healing, understanding, bravery, imagination and empowerment whether it’s from a mouse, a fairy, a princess, a stuffed bear or simply a warthog <3