- Linda Flanders
Become the Director of Your Own Super-Hero Movie
Hollywood Endings and How to Get One uses “the movies” to jump start our imagination into creating something we want in our lives; to help ourselves, to improve ourselves. I wrote it, but have I actually done it? Many times! It all began with The Wilderness Family back in 1991. I watched that movie over and over, imagining myself building a log cabin and living in the wilderness. I used my intention to plan, to learn, to save, and finally to make the leap. I built a log home with my son in the woods of Wisconsin (admittedly on fifteen acres of a family homestead, so I felt I was alone in the woods, but I was actually close to family and a small town).
One of the first steps in rewriting my life was to understand myself (awareness) and learn how to use my imagination and intention. I found “the movies” to be a fun way to start the ball rolling. I used the principles of the Feldenkrais Method® to break down huge tasks into doable steps and to keep myself free from injuries (or be able to heal faster when I did have an accident). You can’t spend three years building a house board-by-board without something happening!
Here’s an example of how I use “the movies” to help in understanding. To be able to do what we want in life and create our own Hollywood Ending, we need to first understand how our mind works, a starting point for what occurs in the future. Our mind is fully capable of creating a visible world from invisible thoughts. For a simplified explanation, I break it down into three systems and link it back to the movies.
The Reptilian Brain is The Producer, the power behind the project, without whom there is no movie. The reptilian brain controls our basic survival needs: breathing, circulation, heartbeat, digestion, etc. This is our instinctive level, the fight – flight – or freeze level. This is, indeed, the power behind the project, because it produces the basic survival of the project itself: us.
The Limbic System is The Drama Queen, (an androgynous term) home of our emotions. Drama Queens and professional actors are not the same thing. Actors have their emotions under control and use them to demonstrate dimensions of a character. Drama Queens don’t have emotions under control, and that is the problem. When we’re stuck here, we are functioning in the world based on our emotions.
The important word here is, stuck. Emotions play a wonderful part in our lives, positive or negative. Positive feelings associated with love, passion, winning an award, or accomplishing a goal that nobody thought we could are wonderful feelings, and powerful! Some of us were raised to think that acting on all of our emotions was a fact of life and that everyone did it. We were never taught that we could reason through our feelings; that we didn’t have to act on them unless we decided we wanted to. Feelings don’t have to run our lives. They just tell us a lot about ourselves: what we like and what we don’t like. Part of maturing is learning impulse control and discriminating between those emotions we should act on and those we shouldn’t. We can do this gently for ourselves by first understanding how we function and how emotions fit into our self as a whole.
The most sophisticated part of the brain is the Cerebral Cortex, which is The Director. This is the part of the brain where creative thinking, problem solving, inventions, creations, discoveries, and reasoning occur. This part of our brain can orchestrate the creation of our own Hollywood Ending. Once we get here, we can choose what we would like to experience and begin to create it by consciously acting or reacting in a different way, until we find the way that works best for us. The Director looks at the total picture and decides whether this is the way he/she wants the movie to turn out. Consciously being aware means really paying attention to what we say and what we do, then looking at it objectively and evaluating the outcome. The science behind this is neuroplasticity.
In the movie Die Hard, Bruce Willis takes on a group of terrorists by himself. He thinks through the situation and constructs a solution. He understands immediately that he is outnumbered and outgunned. He does the only practical thing he can: he retreats (at first). We see him pacing around the room and talking to himself: “Think, dammit, think!” At one point he witnesses the execution of one of the hostages. He has a conversation with himself. The Drama Queen in him demands, “Why the hell didn’t you do something, John?” The Director responds, “Then you’d be dead, too, asshole!”
Bruce Willis continues to problem-solve. He knows he needs help. He sets off the fire alarm. When that doesn’t work, he calls out on a radio frequency. When he realizes that he’s on his own, he becomes very aware of details. He counts the number of terrorists. He writes down their names and notices their accents. He begins to take out the terrorists one by one by one. He manages to get hold of some explosives and a machine gun. Now he knows he has an edge and uses it to his advantage. He’s able to recognize when brute force won’t work and tries to tell this to the police. All these are examples of problem solving and not reacting on emotions, the skillful Director (Cerebral Cortex) in action.
At one point Bruce Willis slips out of Director mode and into Drama Queen mode, allowing his emotions to take control, with potentially disastrous results. He sets a detonator into some explosives and throws it down an elevator shaft. Because he is angry and upset, he doesn’t think about the consequences. He forgets the energy of the explosion will have to go somewhere, and in this case that means right back up the elevator shaft. When he sees the fireball coming right back up towards his face, his Producer brain realizes what’s happening and responds appropriately, “Oh, Shit!”
There is another scene in the bathroom in which Bruce Willis realizes he may not get out of the situation alive. He feels his emotions: he’s scared, he’s alone, and he knows he may never get a chance to tell his wife what he feels. He asks his policeman friend to tell his wife he loves her and he’s sorry. He allows himself to feel his emotions and makes a conscious choice to act upon them, making a heartfelt transition from Drama Queen to Director.
Toward the end of the movie, there is a fight scene where Bruce Willis is fighting for his life with one of the terrorists. He is reacting to a life-threatening situation, and The Producer brain is in charge. He is functioning on pure survival instinct to stay alive.
It’s important to learn how to become a Director in life instead of simply a reactor to life’s situations. Every time we learn something new, we are etching a new little pathway into the most sophisticated area of the brain. Every time we take something we already know how to do and do it in a different way (just for the sake of doing it in a different way), we are etching more new pathways. The more things we learn to do and the more ways we learn to do them, the better our own Director will become. The more pathways we have, the more options from which to choose.
Options are important because they allow us to learn objectivity. As long as we believe that we have no choice, or know only one way to do something, we cannot see our own lives objectively. We need to look at the facets of our lives from different perspectives. A “one way” approach often means an approach based on our emotions, where we are caught in a trap created by our feelings. However, once we learn to do something another way, we have a choice. We have the ability to look at both ways and determine the better choice. When we start with two choices for one problem, then consciously choose one or the other, we just hired a Director. When we learn to find three options for one problem, we’ve hired a better Director. The more options, the better the Director.
That’s what Hollywood Endings is all about. Gaining self-awareness, using our imagination to create a better image, then using our conscious intention to make it real! The Producer, the Director and the Actor all have the same vision.