You probably don’t believe that the guy-saves-girl fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has anything to do with figuring out the meaning and purpose for your life.
Hold on. Think about it.
The fairytale stepdaughter found her way to her new life with seven awkward dwarfs stuck in the middle of nowhere. How likely is it that? That’s like finding your life purpose while pumping gas.
But here’s the deal. Snow White the Damsel in Distress didn’t drop-and-pout when the stepmother’s huntsman dropped her off in the deep dark woods. Damsel didn’t plead to go back to her horrible stepmother out of fear of the unknown in the dark and scary forest.
No, she didn’t. Damsel went walking until she found the dwarf’s cottage. Then she accepted that it was all there was. And then she figured out a few things. And only then was she ready for the rest of her life, her true self.
The rest of her life would never have happened if she’d been stuck in that castle with the wicked stepmother. Or if she had stayed in the dark and creepy forest, scared and unwilling to explore.
Reluctant to be stuck in the present, unwilling to live in the past, she moved forward to her true self.
And she chose to walk. And explore. And figure out who she was meant to be.
You find the answers for your life purpose by taking one step forward.
And Snow White the Damsel, no matter how inappropriately she was dressed for exploring, figured out who she was by living deep in the woods with seven peculiar adult dwarfs.
Here’s 5 things she figured out that will help you too, if you’re stuck figuring out whether to start walking, or stay stuck in your dark and creepy forest.
1. Be Present.
Snow White left behind who she was- the indentured servant/scullery maid. You’re thinking- well who wouldn’t?
The stories we tell ourselves about our past can be devilish to leave behind.
Despite the hardship of being with the evil stepmom, her past didn’t define her and she chose a new identity which helped her expand her awareness of what was possible.
What are you holding onto that defines who you are? How can you learn to be more mindful of your present life?
2. Be Curious.
Snow White didn’t snub her nose at the freaky little cottage and its strange inhabitants. You might think she should have kept walking- wasn’t there a yurt down the road? But her mind was open to possibilities.
Rather than allow judgment to creep in at discovering the little people with their little beds, she integrated new ways of looking at things.
And eventually altered her belief systems about what was possible (“You really can whistle while you work!”), as Jean Piaget described in his work on human adaptation.
How can you look newly at your life, and be curious why you’re here?
3. Have Gratitude.
Snow White was utterly grateful to have been spared the knife by the huntsman, but even more so to stumble upon this tiny shack in the woods with seven beds and a stove. You might have grumbled about the tiny beds and the low doorframe.
But her colossal gratitude for survival and shelter caused huge physical and emotional expansion, providing her well-being, coping skills, and even deep sleep.
Ah, that’s how she survived the snoring.
How can you integrate gratitude into your life, to create acceptance and to cope with life’s challenges?
4. Accept Your Reality
After a few days, Snow White looked around and wondered if she’d ever be able to look someone in the eye while standing up. You’d have looked online to buy shoes with lift for these short guys.
But instead of falling into the pessimistic pattern of learned helplessness or depression, she dealt with her reality by being her best in the circumstances.
She relaxed her grip on what may or may not happen, and shifted her focus to what she could influence, all components identified as critical in finding meaning. Those dwarfs must have been ecstatic to have a pleasant cook and bottle washer amongst them.
What can you try to accept rather than struggle against, so that you can influence what matters most?
5. Serve others.
The Damsel didn’t take a much-needed vacation from her scullery work when she happened upon the cottage. No, she hit the deck running- cooking, cleaning, tidying up after seven bachelors. And it didn’t hurt her none.
Altruistic behaviors are well-known to produce benefits of confidence, self-awareness, self-esteem, and the ability to make friends.
You’re thinking the dwarfs may have initially seen it as buying her way into the deal, but eventually they developed affection and treated her like a kid sister.
What actions can you take to help others that would create closer relationships and a deeper awareness of your life?
You don’t have to walk into the dark scary forest alone.
If a rejected Snow White could walk through a deep dark forest to find a weird little shack with seven small men and use the opportunity to figure out her life, what are you waiting for? What opportunities are you walking by that could change your life?
And the truth is, sometimes we don’t see who we are and what we’re doing that’s keeping us stuck in our own forest.
If you’ve spent years looking for answers but feel like you’ve got night blindness, you need a flashlight to shine on that thing.
Don’t leave it to chance- some days the wicked stepmother seems better than the creepy forest. Act now while you’re ticked-off and taking names.
It’s the real deal. Leave me a comment below. Then let’s set-up a time to talk.
Holly Woods, Ph.D. uses Integral Coaching and Somatic Experiencing to help adults who are weighed down by stress or trauma, and who want to be free of the overwhelm so they can find a life full of joy and purpose. Sign up on the Right or Click Here to receive a Free Report and to receive my weekly newsletter. Please forward to a friend if you liked this post!