How “watching” a movie can help you live a better life

I’m sure you’ve noticed that as you watch a movie, you find yourself caring about the protagonist because of the hardships she (or he) goes through. And you identify with her struggles, disappointments, and pain, and silently root for her to overcome her challenges, fulfill her mission, and realize her (or his) dreams.

The challenge of living with a serious chronic illness is at least as hard as the difficulties and obstacles the main characters in most movies have to overcome. If you were to watch a movie where the protagonist had to deal with symptoms like yours and do all the things you do to take care of yourself and the others in your life, I’m sure you would have a lot of empathy and want the best outcome possible for him or her – just as you would for the main character of a good movie.

In a very real sense, you are the leading character in a movie: your life. You do face major challenges because of your illness and symptoms. So I encourage you to care about and have at least as much empathy for yourself as you would for the actor or actress who portrayed a character like you in a movie. Not only do you deserve it, but when you do that, you will start to feel a lot better.

But there is something else besides learning to care more about and have more empathy for yourself that you can learn by imagining watching a movie about your life.

Here it is: When we watch a movie, we usually know more about what is going on than the main character does.

Because of that, there have been many times when I have known that the things he (or she) is saying and the actions he is taking will get him into trouble. I have wanted to tell him to stop and say or do something else. But of course, there has never been a time when the protagonist in a movie has been able to hear me.

But imagining watching a movie of our life is different. Doing that gives us a different perspective of our life, and often more wisdom, than our normal perspective and the wisdom we have as we live it. And we can use that perspective and wisdom to tell the main character what the best thing he or she can do to manage illness symptoms and live a much better life.

To summarize, what I am suggesting is that you imagine you are watching a movie of your life. You can imagine watching yourself as the main character, or you can imagine another actor playing that role. The movie has just gotten to today, and as a viewer of the movie, you have a sense of the best thing the actor can do next. And knowing that, you follow your own wisdom.

This technique works well because when we are able to detach ourselves from our situation, we can see options and ways to take care of ourselves and deal with our challenges that we can’t see otherwise.

Best wishes as you watch your own “movie” and have a much better life.

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5 Responses to “How “watching” a movie can help you live a better life”

  1. Nadine McColm says:

    Thank you for this technique, Tom. I will use it to get better perspective on why I react the way I do and ways to use that knowledge in my favor. I get to be the heroine of my life!

  2. NELSON WEISS says:

    THIS ARTICLE WAS VERY MEANINGFUL FOR ME. I ROUTINELY WATCH MOVIES ON MY TV AND HAVE HAD SEVERAL MEANINGFUL DAYS AFTER READING THE ARTICLE THAT HAS HELPED ME DEAL WITH A MULTITUDE OF CHRONIC ILLNESS. THE AUTHOR IS A GREAT COACH THAT HAS TAUGHT ME VERY MUCH.

  3. Tom Robinson says:

    Thank you for your comments, Nadine and Nelson. I’m glad you found my post helpful. And yes, each of us gets to be the heroine or hero of our life.

  4. Hannah says:

    I really love this. Thank you for your post and the tone in which you wrote it! I have several chronic illness and try to encourage people through my blog: hannahdlee.com. Thank you, again!

  5. […] where the protagonist had the same illness and was dealing with the same challenges that they were (here’s the link to that post). But instead of writing, as others who have contacted me about that post have written, that it was […]

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