Not just a fairy tale...
Welcome to the fourth and final segment in the series. Analysing life lessons from Cinderella has been a dream come true. Saved the best for last, so here are ten more lessons that we can all learn from the movie. Grab a snack and let's go!
1. It takes courage to embrace blessings
It's a widely known fact that most people self-sabotage their dreams for several reasons. For example, fear of intimacy can be traced back to caregivers during formative years. Oliver James has previously argued that parenting styles affect their offspring in so many ways than one. If a mother, father or carer gave you the silent treatment when you needed attention or hugs during the critical years of your development, then you're more likely to become fearful of a loving relationship. You probably use rejection as a coping mechanism; in other words, you give up on what you desire before things get too serious. "You dump them before they dump you," he says. Self-sabotage in action!
Cinderella is not immune to fear and develops cold feet as she gets off the carriage to walk towards the palace. The moment that she could only dream of has arrived. "I'm frightened, Mr Lizard. I'm only a girl, not a princess," she utters. Love how Mr Lizard responds. "And I'm only a lizard, not a footman. Enjoy it while it lasts." Cinderella doubts herself as she stands on the edge of glory. She's endured so much heartache, she's been kind and courageous countless times before, and it's earned her a place to the ball. But she's afraid to take the steps towards her dream.
Experiencing nerves before taking to the stage is something that most people go through, no matter how gifted and experienced they are. That's why the world is full of people who are very critical of others because it's easier to be a spectator than participate. However, for those who are brave enough to keep moving forward no matter how many times you stumble, remember that doing so requires a lot of courage. May we fearlessly embrace our moments to shine when they present themselves in our lives, and not run away because we don't know any better.
2. Enjoy the moment while it lasts
Although initially gripped by fear, Cinderella overcomes and doesn't spend the evening worrying about the fact that she needs to be home before midnight. She's late for the ball, but the timing couldn't have been more perfect. The servant girl called a disgrace by her step-mother now owns the stage as she walks towards the prince. Even the beautiful princess Chelina of Zaragoza is taken aback. "Who is she?" she enquires. It doesn't matter how long you've been toiling in the background. There will come a time when people will take notice and ask who you are. Stay true to your values and goals and perfect your craft. One day, your time to will come.
Cinderella embraces this magical moment with grace and elegance. It can be too tempting to revisit bad experiences when good times show up. I remember once discussing with a friend about how families or couples often fight when they're going on holiday. You'd think that people who've paid a lot of money, saved up, and waited for so long to get away would treasure such rare moments. This point links up with the previous one, but slightly different. If not careful, you can quickly destroy what you've always dreamt of because of your fear that the good times might not last. Learn to embrace beautiful moments and make them count. One day, all you'll have are memories.
3. Exercise wisdom as you rise to the top
It doesn't matter how long you've been toiling at the bottom, but when you get promoted, you have to act responsibly. For example, your position could mean that you have access to highly confidential and privileged information. You might have risen from a questionable background and one day find yourself amongst the elite; you have to leave behind your old ways so you can serve well. It's not about denying who you are; it's about becoming. Cinderella eventually finds out that Kit is, in fact, the prince, not a mere apprentice. He tells her that he feared that she'd treat him differently if she'd known that he was a prince, and next in line to be the king. Many will treat you with favour if they think that you're somebody who could benefit them in some way or another. You will know a lot about people based on the way they treat you when you have nothing.
After foxtrotting and waltzing together in perfect harmony, the prince escorts Cinderella to a secret garden. Steady on. It's not what you think! There, he opens up about his predicament; that he's being forced to marry someone else. Unlike the wicked step-mother who abuses the little information gained through eavesdropping, Cinderella doesn't use what the prince tells her in confidence to her advantage. Upon realising that it's almost midnight, she says that she has to leave, and sprints towards the waiting carriage. En-route, she comes across the king. Cinderella briefly pauses to speak to the prince's father with respect and dignity. Despite knowing what she knows about the king's plans, she tells him that his son thinks highly of him.
How many of us would do the same?
Just a quick side note. If you're reading these rather long articles, it means you're one of a kind, a cut above the rest! I truly appreciate your visits to the website; it means I'm not wasting my time. May I take this opportunity to encourage you to listen to a leadership series entitled "The Making of a King" by Dr Mensa Otabil on YouTube. The series traces the rise of King David, from being a mere shepherd to being anointed, and going through immense challenges and hardship despite being chosen. Part 5 of 5 resonates well with this point about wisdom. He encourages people to reject what he calls premature promotion. In the cave, David had a chance to kill King Saul, who wanted him dead. At that point, Saul had become David's worst enemy. Still, David referred to him as "the Lord's anointed."
"Don't destroy an office you hope to occupy." Dr Otabil says. "Don't diminish the value of the position you are trying to attain. If you reduce the office when you get to the top, you will seat in a reduced office. The power you get away from your predecessor will not be given to you when you get there." – Dr Mensa Otabil, The Making of a King, Part 5
Handling family or office matters with wisdom will secure your position too, and the safety of the ones you're meant to serve.
4. The less they are what they claim to be, the louder the declarations!
Anastasia, Drisella and their mother arrive at the ball, with the sole intention of trapping the prince. As the introductions take place about who is who, the trio's turn comes to pass. You can tell that Lady Tremaine's desire is to be seen as someone with a notable position, now that several celebrities surround her. Drisella and Anastasia refuse to be beaten and insist on being introduced as "the very beautiful" and "the very clever."
Even their mum and the dreaded cat knew that they couldn't sing nor paint despite their best efforts. At one time, they tried to show off their love and appreciation for 'all things French', confident that a peasant girl like Cinderella would never understand their levels of sophistication. When Cinderella responds in impeccable French, the shock on their faces is hilarious!
Sometimes, your enemies will undress you so they can drape themselves with the very things that they envy about you. Also, be wary of people who claim to be something else to impress you. I've seen and heard of fathers, for example, who do everything they can to evade parental duties, yet they tell their sympathisers, "I love my family." It's never about what they say, it's about what they do, especially when no one is watching.
5. Utilise what you have
Cinderella's main wish is to attend the ball and hopefully see the apprentice again. Despite being unceremoniously told that a dressmaker won't be measuring her up for a gown, she pieces up what she could find to make her mother's old dress fit for the big occasion. Any other person would have declared a no show because they don't have anything new to wear. However, Cinderella had placed value on the memories that the dress held. When they ripped that dress apart, it was the same dress that was transformed into an iconic gown.
Stop focusing on what you lack. Everything you need to turn around your life is closer to you than you think. It lies within you, no matter how lowly you think of yourself or how much they laugh at you. Start with what you have; the good and bad experiences, skills, gifts, talents or anything that gives you a competitive edge. Anyone can form a business or start something, but it's often what lies beneath that separates winners from copycats.
6. True love makes a heart cheerful
Love is a powerful force capable of transforming hearts and minds: not infatuation, not a crash nor forced love or beneficial relationships. Only true love gets to the core. We see a smitten Kit do what he wouldn't normally do in the name of love. He glows when he speaks to Cinderella, becomes more playful and is relaxed when talking to her. He speaks highly of her when her father and others refer to her as a mere country girl.
When Cinderella meets Kit for the first time, she too changes, despite living in dreary circumstances. Even step-mother notices the smiles and little signs. Love is difficult to hide nor easy to destroy. Of course, many will try to do just that. Cinderella makes sure to record what happened at the ball in her diary, for it had been a night to remember. "It was like a dream, better than a dream!" she writes.
Let's not forget that a few hours before, she'd hit rock bottom and wailed by the well, yet the following morning, she woke up radiant and cheerful. People around you will read vibes indicating that you're in love. Lady Tremaine notices a change in Cinderella and becomes suspicious. Remember, she couldn't recognise Cinderella at the ball thanks to fairy godmother's magic. I know for a fact that God has a way of hiding what's precious when enemies surround one. No-one knew who Cinderella was, except for the prince.
For the first time, Cinderella becomes a changed person, ready to confront her step-mother. The power of love! Remember Paulo Coelho's words in the Alchemist next time you come across love, whether others are celebrating it or not. "Love is the force that transforms and improves the soul of the world…Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are." In Eleven Minutes, he wrote, "Love is not to be found in someone else, but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But to do that, we need the other person."
When you are with the one or finally meets the right person, your heart will know and rejoices.
7. Hurt people hurt others
We see evidence of this compelling truth in Cinderella. Most people pay the price for what others did to those who go on to make life difficult others.
In all the time you've read about Cinderella's step-mother, you haven't come across anything positive about her. But we see her show her human side to expose the source of her pain. She hasn't healed from her past hurts and is bleeding on poor Cinderella. After learning that Cinderella is the girl with the lost slipper, she tells her own story. Talks about the pain of losing her first husband whom she'd married for love and how she'd ended up with her second husband (Cinderella's father) to give her daughters security. After his death, she thought perhaps one of her daughters would marry the prince, which would secure Lady Tremaine's future. Note how cold-hearted she is, to the point of using her daughter's lives for her advantage. The people you often let determine your destiny do so out of their ego, not your well-being. But, they also have stories.
For example, a common topic amongst married women is ill-treatment by certain mothers-in-law. If you trace the story back to how it all started, you'll often see a woman who was not treated well by her husband's family, yet, she goes on to make life as difficult as possible for her son's wife. She instead unleashes revenge on daughter-in-law. Not everyone is blessed with a mother-in-law like Naomi in the Bible. Despite her loss and grief, she still facilitated the relationship between Ruth and Boaz. Instead of aiding a smooth transition, some would do the opposite and sabotage the whole thing before it manifests. Why? Because if they've got previous unhealed hurts, they just can't be happy, however hard they try to mask their pain.
The same principle applies to bullies, be it in the playground or at work. Bullies are everywhere, even in families. If you trace the history of emotionally abusive people, you might learn that something happened long before you came into the picture. You doing your thing only serves to stir their deep-rooted feelings associated with a rejection or some emotional baggage. That's why it's essential to know who you are because hurt people have a way of making you feel as if it's all your fault.
I remember once reading a chilling testimony from an abusive person. He said he would trap others in his 'web of lies and deceit' because he can't escape from his. He could heal if he wanted to but chooses to live in a place where he gets 'supply' out of the misery of those lured into his trap. Talk about twisted!
But, this is precisely what we see in Cinderella. Yes, Lady Tremaine shares her sob story, but she never repents. She even admits that she hates Cinderella only because Cinderella is a good person. How many times have we tried to please those who will never accept us even when it's evident that you're a good person? We often give power to people who are weak and trying to strengthen themselves by bringing others down. No complete and happy person would do that. A secure person would celebrate the fact that they've found a mate, not a competitor!
After what seems like a moment of truth, Lady Tremaine still goes ahead and locks up Cinderella in the attic. It goes to show that most people are often trapped when the promise is within reach. Be careful, just because someone admits their weaknesses may not always mean that they're willing or ready to change. You could be entering a heightened stage of oppression. If you've tried to fight back before, the walls that once held you hostage will be further reinforced to discourage you from ever thinking about escape. As you encounter difficult people, I sincerely hope you realise that the problem is not with you. It took me a very long time to learn that vital lesson.
8. Small people become mighty IF they join forces
It seems as if Cinderella's step-mother has the upper hand. But darkness eventually gives in to the light. Remember, fight the good fight with light as your guide. If you employ evil tactics to match your tormentors, you'll be stuck in pitch-black darkness forever. However, it usually takes combined efforts of little people against a bigger enemy. The small animals that Cinderella used to protect and feed come to her rescue when all hope seems lost. We see tiny birds deliver a message back to where Cinderella is being imprisoned. The mice do everything they can to get the key to Cinderella to help her escape and try on the slipper. Sometimes, the person who will unlock your blessing could be the person who seems less likely.
Remember how King David finally rose to the throne thanks to an army of misfits who helped him win the final battle. We often spend our lives striving to be associated with only those of influence and in high places. As for the small people, now is the time to learn that as long as you remain divided, you will continue to languish under those who thrive on persecuting others. Use what you have, be kind and support one another.
Your future can only be secure if you help prop up another, not bring each other down. I know for a fact that certain 'small minded people' often withhold helping others because they don't want another person to do better than them. I've mentioned this before in a previous article about The Lion King. When little animals rise to the occasion, destinies are fulfilled, and everyone lives happily ever after. May you find inspiration from these seemingly weak animals.
9. Stand up against those who minimise and oppress you
For too long, Cinderella endures much hardship under Lady Tremaine and her daughters, yet, she never stops being kind. She probably thought she was fighting to secure her parents' 200-year-old property, but at what price? She argues that kindness and love are free when her step-mother states that nothing in life is free. Lady Tremaine, upon realising that this once timid girl has now turned into a fighter, tries to strike a deal with Cinderella. She demands some favour if Cinderella is to get what she deserves, the prince. Never make deals with certain people, for they will keep on trying to destroy you even when you make it to the top.
Cinderella not only refuses to agree to her empty promises and threats but tells her step-mother that she will fight to protect the kingdom. Defeated, Lady Tremaine rushes to the palace to taint Cinderella's name, blaming her for stealing the glass shoe. You see, bad people don't know when to stop. I've seen it happen before, when someone finally stands up to the one who had the upper hand, the fighter will be labelled all sorts. Their crime? Finally standing up for themselves, and declaring that enough is enough. Do not be discouraged when they go on a campaign to taint you; goodness prevails in the end.
10. You are unique, and that's a good thing!
Getting to your destiny is rarely a smooth process. You will face a lot of resistance along the way. However, if it's God's plan, the promise will be fulfilled. Your glass shoe won't fit anyone else. You were created with unique gifts and talents to take you to your destiny. There might be delays and detours, but it will happen. That's why it's never a good idea to fight for what's not truly yours. I love Disney's narrative about the glass shoe as the search continued. "The slipper travelled the length and breadth of the kingdom, every maiden, high and low, and everything in between. The duke spared no effort to demonstrate that the mystery princess could not be found."
The real owner of that shoe was somewhere within the kingdom, yet the duke still wanted the prince to go with the original plan, marrying princess Chelina. You might come across situations where you might be rejected, because they'd rather find an alternative, for whatever reason. However, if you're anointed to get into that position, they can try to manipulate the outcome, but God is not a man, that he should lie. The king sees the light and encourages his son to marry for love. Cinderella's step-mother refuses to bless her step-daughter so she could marry the new king and tries every tactic in her book to sabotage, but the legitimate owner of the glass shoe is finally found. The girl who they had reduced to nothing marries the man of her dreams. She lives happily ever after!
It's been a pleasure analysing this movie in great detail, and I hope I've helped you view Cinderella from a different angle. Most importantly, I hope you've found inspiration as you embark on your journeys. I aim to fill you up with hearty words of wisdom capable of sustaining you along the way. That's why you'll never come across empty calorific content on this site, fast fed daily for the sake of numbers. Hope you found the Cinderella series informative, inspirational and enlightening.
Thank you for reading.
From books we love to the box office, there is always an intriguing tale shaped and inspired by who we are.