What Lesson’s Can we Learn from the Tin Man?
Part Two by Robin B.. Dilley PhD
In the story of the Wizard of Oz there are many lesson’s and the Tin Man has a few of them to teach us. We discover him living alone in a dark and ominous forest. He sentenced himself to the forest with the belief he would never be able to love, because he had no heart. Once upon a time the Tin Man had a heart and was a strong handsome woodsman. However, one by one, his cursed Ax cut off parts of himself. This invites us to explore the reality of our own cursed Ax. The Ax represents the way the woodsman made a living for himself. It could also represent his self-esteem and worthwhileness in the world. The Tin Man was a good-hearted, hard working person, so how did he end up here? Maybe he never had his own voice.
It appears he was cursed by the Wicked Witch of the EAST. But why? There is an underlying theme here of money and the use of our voice as our power. The young woman who the Woodsman loved can be viewed in two different ways. She was a young servant girl but she was not stupid. When the Tin Man asked her to marry him, she said “build me a bigger house.” Here she represents a good job of self-care and uses her voice to speak her truth. But she also demonstrates that comfort and luxury are high on her priority list.
The question becomes, how did that demand impact the Tin Man? Did he get the message, he was not enough on his own merit, but only if he had a larger house. Regardless, the Tin Man went to work right away, cutting more wood, to make more money to build a bigger house. He did not use his voice to negotiate, protest, or share how he felt about her demand. The woman who owned the servant girl could see that the Tin Man really loved the servant girl and she did not want her to lose her. So she paid the Wicked Witch of the East to cast a spell on his Ax. How does that translate to you?
I can’t imagine that the Tin Man was delighted with the girl’s response, “build me a bigger house and I will marry you.” But, he was so in love he just started working harder. When have you started working harder to win someone else’s love, friendship, or attention? When you operate from a place of trying to be good enough for someone else, you lose your center. When you are off of your center, you are susceptible to anxious energy. Anxiety causes us to overthink, be impulsive, and spend countless hours trying to reach perfection. Perfection that is based on otherness vs. oneness with ourselves. As, our anxiety rises, our cognitive abilities decrease, our body tenses up and we are likely to make poor decisions and take actions that put us at risk. We are also more susceptible to accidents or illnesses that will hurt us. This is how our cursed Ax then cuts off pieces of ourself. Each time we make a decision because someone else wants us to we are at risk of cutting of parts of our being.
I invite you to think about how would the Tin Man’s life been different if he had used his voice and said any of the following options?
“I really love you. I want a relationship that is equal. We can build a bigger and better house together.”
“I would love to build you a bigger house, but there are no guarantees in life that you will marry me if I do. What are you bringing to the relationship?”
“I find your demand for a bigger house an interesting proposal. I need to move on.”
Did his lack of self-esteem and shame cause him to move into his anxiety and just produce what she wanted regardless of the cost to himself? When have you done things to make other’s happy , while hurting yourself in the process? How many pieces of yourself have you cut-off pleasing others? Here is a little journal writing exercise of questions to help you discover how you left pieces of yourself behind and become immobilized in the dark forest of your life.
1. Looking back at your childhood, which hurts still linger loud and clear in you memory? What happened when that little kid inside of you got hurt? What were the messages spoken or unspoken from the adults in your life? What messages did you tell yourself? What does that little kid need from you now?
2. Coming to the present, what happened this past week that hurt you? Don’t minimize. It is the little things that add up that cost us our mobility. How did you respond? What messages are you telling yourself? What messages from your past showed up to chime in on your current situation? What do you need?
3. How does your life mirror that of the Tin Man? How many parts have you left behind and what is your plan to go reclaim those broken off parts?
You will get help with all of these questions and find exercises that will help you explore how to reclaim your self-esteem, use your voice and discover a path out of the forest.
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