It seems fitting that with the release of the new movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, that I relate the popular series to real life. How can I do that? Well, let’s start with the obvious fight between good and evil, light and dark: the Jedi versus the Sith.
Before we can discuss them, we need to look at the unifying power of the universe that binds all creatures together: the Force. The Force is a magical, tangible thing that you cannot touch. It permeates all space and can be manipulated by few, and those select few decide how to use it. Some decide to use it as a weapon for power and destruction (Sith), while others stand in the name of all things good and use it as a source of contribution and protection (Jedi).
Most Force users, as they are called, are Jedi and stand for truth and justice. However, the Force can provide an unlimited source of power and control. Since people can be susceptible to the lures of power, some Jedi take advantage of others and become figures of death and evil. The universe needs both Jedi and Sith to survive, providing a kind of Yin and Yang for the star wars universe. The wars described in the movies come down to restoring this balance of light and dark to the universe. When too many Jedi turn evil, the dark side takes control and the universe suffers. It is then up to the Jedi to bring balance to the force.
Let’s take a look at the movies and synopses:
- The Phantom Menace – the rise and fall of a dangerous Sith Lord and the backstory of Anakin Skywalker
- Attack of the Clones – the building of armies and psychology of evil as it applies to Anakin Skywalker
- Revenge of the Sith – the political uprising of the Sith, the elimination of the Jedi, and Anakin Skywalker turns into a Sith Lord (Darth Vader)
- A New Hope – guerrilla warfare of the rebels of the galaxy fighting the Sith Empire; Luke Skywalker can use the Force to blow up a Death Star
- Revenge of the Sith – the Sith get angry and build a bigger Death Star; Luke learns how to control the Force and that Darth Vader is his Daddy
- Return of the Jedi – lots of fighting; Dad fights son but loves him; big bad Sith Lord dies; big party with little fuzzy bears
- The Force Awakens – one of Luke’s Jedi trainees gets mad so Luke runs away; a stormtrooper steals a lightsaber; new rebels find Luke
- The Last Jedi – I don’t know! And even if I did I wouldn’t spoil it for you yet…
Of course, there is so much more to these movies than what I have described. There are heroes, villains, swords made of light beams, wookies, mini wookies, terrifying animals with lots of teeth, sentient robots, and a long story of a crazy family with personal problems that can control magic.
What is my purpose in explaining all of this without revealing much?
A sales pitch to go see them all!
What I want to discuss is how we can use the entire Star Wars franchise as a metaphor for overcoming negative beliefs that we all have day to day. In a way, our brains force us (get it?) to fight the Sith inside of ourselves! I want to explore how we can overcome the Sith Lords inside of us to restore the balance to the Force and be unstoppable sources of success and happiness.
Most of the time, the only thing stopping us from doing anything that we desire is our brains. We are incredible creatures that have the intellectual capabilities to create amazing things, understand the laws of nature, and provide overwhelming change to the world. One single person has the potential to impact the world in remarkable ways, both positive and negative, good and evil, light and dark, as a Jedi or a Sith Lord. The Force inside of yourself is all of the beliefs that you determine to be true. These beliefs can be positive. Limiting beliefs are beliefs that can hold you back. Limiting beliefs that prevent you from achieving more than you can are the true Sith Lords you must fight.
Are you ready?
Let’s look at The Phantom Menace. This “first” movie is the first of a trilogy of prequels that precedes the original trilogy, beginning with A New Hope. In The Phantom Menace, we see the story of two young Jedi knights as they discover and nurture a strange and powerful little boy while fighting a fierce Sith Lord, Darth Maul. Maul lives up to his name in appearance and attitude, literally having horns growing out of his head. He is quick, nimble, and likes to kill.
Limiting Belief: I need more __________ to do _________.
For example, say you are trying to start a business but have little to no experience in business itself. You begin this new adventure and immediately find lots of challenges along the way. You need:
- A certification
- A website
- Five hundred other things that you find along the way
Each time you find a solution to a problem, you discover a new challenge you must overcome. As you overcome challenges, more are presented to you. They come quickly, out of nowhere, and wear down your entrepreneurial spirit. The challenges are elusive, fast paced, and want to see you fail. How can you fight this kind of limiting belief?
According to Star Wars, you must persevere until you can face the belief in the face. Find resources to help you succeed in spite of the challenges and a friend to fight by your side.
Then watch helplessly as your friend dies in battle so that you can rise up and finish the fight on your own for good.
Resources can come in any form. They can be friends with advice and expertise, activities that make you feel unstoppable, or anything that helps you overcome any single challenge along the way. The friend to help you fight already lives inside of you. It is the part of you that knows deep down that you will succeed. The part that encourages you through each challenge and dies for you. Only after that sacrifice can you rise above yourself and find the true reason to slay the belief so that it can no longer have any influence over you.
Attack of the Clones brings about a new Sith Lord after the fall of Darth Maul: Count Dooku. He is older, wiser, more calculating and less reckless. He takes on the grand master Jedi Yoda but provides a distraction for himself to evade defeat by threatening the life of one of the other Jedi with whom he is battling. He is sly and tries to avoid public encounters yet provides a strong support for followers of the Sith.
Limiting Belief: I cannot do _______________ because it is too hard.
Most people give up on ideas and achievements because they are perceived to be too difficult to accomplish. When something gets too difficult, it is easier to give up and do something more familiar. Our brains are structured according to patterns. We learn from repetition and do our best to use as little effort as possible to do things. When we find a way to minimize a task, we repeat the simplest way to do it by letting our brains go on autopilot and follow the patterns it has already learned. Think about brushing your teeth. When is the last time you consciously thought about brushing each and every tooth?
When we are faced with new situations, we have two choices. We can either figure it out or give up. In order to figure it out, we must restructure our neurological pathways and break the patterns that we know and love. When we resort back to the familiar habitual patterns, we effectively give up on finding a way to succeed and stay in our comfort zones.
In order to break this type of belief, Star Wars tells us that we need to back the bad guy into multiple corners, giving him chances to escape defeat before we stare him in the face and slaughter him in cold blood to save a public figurehead. How do we do that? Find a reason to track him down and let the dark side take control of you for just a little while. Then he will no longer be a challenge, but rather something you have overcome to become even more powerful and strong than you were before.
Anakin Skywalker is one of the most fickle characters in the franchise. He begins as a brilliant and curious little boy with extraordinary powers. He becomes a full fledged Jedi Knight that stands for all things good in the universe. He falls in love and meets some terrible hardships with those he loves. He has a psychotic breakdown and believes that power and control are the only ways to be happy, only to discover that by focusing on these things he becomes even more miserable. He then becomes one of the most dangerous villains of the galaxy: Darth Vader. He is completely dependent on life support and does the bidding of his master without any hesitation. He learns that he has a son who has become a Jedi Knight. He struggles to kill his son as ordered and instead tries to form an evil family to rule the galaxy. He finally sees his son getting hurt by his master and sacrifices himself so that his son may live and restore goodness and peace to the galaxy.
Limiting Belief: The universe does bad things to me.
For this belief the inner dialogue is a bit more tricky. Here the protagonist is the antagonist. Obi Wan Kenobi was the protagonist for Darth Maul just as Anakin Skywalker was for Count Dooku. Here, Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) is his own antagonist. When he was a child, two Jedi knights trained him in the ways of the Jedi. He fell into the temptations of doubt and anger while blaming the universe. When he was presented with a challenge, he blamed things out of his control for his feelings and actions. He further sank into a rage and the cycle of negativity continued. His energy and focus transitioned from goodwill and peace to blame and denial.
There is a notion in psychology that your energy is directed to where you focus your thoughts. Anakin slowly focused on the things that were out of his control and thought that the only way to make his life better was to manipulate others to do his bidding. As a result, he succumbed to the dark side of the Force and exiled himself from all of his friends. He sought solace in anger and the search for power.
Upon fighting with his son in a battle for the galaxy, Luke stayed true to his beliefs and refused to join his father and Darth Sidious. While Vader’s master violently electrocuted Luke, Anakin solved his inner conflict. He realized that the only way to free himself of his anger was to be true to himself.
The greatest inner conflict a person can have is not living according to his values. Anakin searched inside himself for what he truly believed in and came to Luke’s rescue to save his son and return to the light side once and for all at the end of Return of the Jedi.
The universe does not do bad things to people. The universe does wonderful things for people. Our perceptions of those challenges change how we respond to those situations. Living according to your truest sense of self allows you to overcome any obstacle in your path.
In the Star Wars universe, there are only two Sith Lords at a time. Darth Sidious takes the cake for being the longest reigning Sith Lord throughout the first six films. He is the grand Sith puppet master. He was the political leader of the galaxy and the manipulative mastermind behind the demise of order. He is the greatest threat in the universe and could literally shoot lightning from his fingertips. I believe that he represents one of the universal fears.
Limiting Belief: I am not enough.
Palpatine slowly worked his way up through the political ranks from a nobody to Emperor. He was revered as a saint and appeared to maintain order and peace in the galaxy. All the while, he secretly studied the evil ways of the Force and became the most powerful Sith Lord of all time. He worked for control and significance to feel like he belonged in the universe. He put an end to any opposition and converted many Jedi to fall to the dark side. He was defeated by Anakin during the final battle with Luke. His demise was needing control. He failed to see that he did not actually have the control over Anakin that he thought.
During his entire life, he needed to be more than he was. He gained infamy and was still never good enough for himself. He desired complete and total control over everything in the universe. Unfortunately, that never happened and he fell into a shaft of the second Death Star minutes before it exploded.
Had he been grateful for the great things in his life, I think that he would not have been so blinded by power that he could have gotten his wish. If he had known that he was enough for himself, he would have more carefully planned out his rise to power and never fallen. This is of course speculation, but my point is that there are thousands if not millions of things to be grateful for in your life and when you focus on them, you begin the process of realizing that you are indeed enough.
Kylo Ren is still developing as a character as the eighth and ninth episodes come into theaters. My best guess so far is that he represents the other universal fear.
Limiting Belief: I will not be loved.
Kylo Ren grew up as a Jedi but was tempted to the dark side by Supreme Leader Snoke (as of now I know incredibly little about him/her). He was trained by his uncle, Luke Skywalker. He disrespected his parents and tried to find a sense of belonging by joining the dark side. During the seventh movie, Kylo spends time with his father and asks permission to do what is necessary to realize his full potential. Once granted, Kylo kills his father after a heartfelt discussion about his mother. It is my guess that he desires to be loved, as it is a fundamental human need, but does not quite know how to find it. Instead, he lives in a world of disappointment and confusion.
This character has not yet been resolved, so we will have to wait and see if this theory is correct. Either way, the simplest way to overcome this fear is to love others as openly as possible.
All limiting beliefs can be overcome with the right approach and mindset. Once you do, you will be able to accomplish more than you ever thought you could.