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Posts Tagged ‘therapy’

Welcome to The Matrix

Darlene Kirtley, MS LPC

Many of my clients have heard me reference the movie The Matrix because I find it so rich with therapeutic metaphor.  It is a story of self-actualization, breaking through the most persistent of defenses, overcoming obstacles, fighting tirelessly to become something amazing, and achieving a state of mindfulness few realize. It is the modern day Hero’s Journey.


Who are you in this journey?  You, of course, are Neo—the hero at the center of it all. The word neo means “new.”  Through your own hard work and growth, you become a transformed version of yourself.


Who am I?  In my role as counselor, I am Morpheous. I find you on The Matrix and pull you from it. In order to find you, I have to have good diagnostic and analytical skills. I have to be somewhat of a psychological detective. Once I have found you, you then have a very important choice—red pill or blue pill? If you choose the blue pill you keep your illusions and defenses and go back to what is familiar. It is the path of least resistance, but there is no authentic life in that path.  The red pill takes you on the path of self-discovery. Once you make that choice, life may never be the same again.  At first what you see may frighten, or even disgust you, but soon you will have tapped into strength you never knew you had.  Don’t worry, you will not be alone on the journey.  All heroes have allies.


I am Morpheous– the one who hopes, the one who believes in you. Notice that the name contains the root word morph which means “change.” With my guidance and support, you will battle and eventually defeat the Mr.Smiths in your life. The Mr.Smiths may be anxiety, depression, indecision, self-defeating patterns, relationship problems, or take any number of forms in life.  They can be quite formidable and persistent…but, so can you!  With my help, you are going to become one incredible ninja! Not by running faster or punching harder. You will achieve your victory with your most powerful tool of all—your mind.


How will we get there? Just like in the movie, with discussion, training, exercises, lots of practice, and of course, a visit to The Oracle.


Who is The Oracle?  You may be surprised to hear this, but The Oracle is a part of you. It is your inner wisdom and guidance. In the movie, her motto, which is posted above her doorway, is “Know Thyself.” Self-knowledge is key in this journey of self-discovery and change.  She can’t tell Neo he is The One until he believes it himself.  There are many ways to visit The Oracle and tap into her wisdom.  One of my favorite ways is to utilize the method of sandtray therapy.  Using the symbols represented by the miniatures, wisdom from your subconscious is revealed to help you along your journey.  The information you receive from using sandtray, your dreams, guided imagery, or sudden insights and intuition is the very information you need to help you at that point in your life.


Besides allies, all good stories have a nemesis. In this movie, there is a traitor—Cipher.  He represents that part of ourselves that resists change and growth. Sometimes, like Cipher, we want to go running back into The Matrix of our old habits and familiar reality.  We betray that part of ourselves that wants to grow. There is some comfort for us in The Matrix, but it’s all an illusion covering up a not-so-pretty reality. This is not the hero’s way. The hero chooses the path of authenticity and hard work and reaps the rewards.


My favorite scene in the movie, and the one I refer to the most, is the subway scene. Neo has fought tirelessly. He has run, punched, kicked, flipped, and even come back from death. He has temporarily defeated his foe multiple times, but no matter how hard he fights, the agents relentlessly return to continue the battle.  At one point Neo finds himself opposite three agents who are firing at him.  At this moment, Neo transcends the fight completely.  In an incredible moment of lucidity, he detaches and disengages from the battle by rejecting the reality of it.  This is the most powerful scene in the movie. It is at this point Neo achieves ultimate mindfulness. As the bullets come at him, he calmly states “No” and observes them drop to the ground. Seeing that the bullets are now powerless against Neo, an agent then exerts a passionate hand-to-hand combat attack, which is equally ineffective. Neo, still remaining detached, is able to resist the attack with ridiculous ease and skill! Not only has he won the battle with the agents, but he has achieved a monumental victory within himself.  This is mindfulness!


The story of The Matrix is fiction but the meaning and wisdom contained within it are very real.  We all have illusions, defenses and “agents” in our lives. We also have many resources available to use in our own growth. So which do you choose?  The red pill or the blue pill?


“I know you’re out there…”


©2012 Darlene Kirtley  All rights reserved.