Darth Vader, Relationships & The Best Self

Darth Vader, Relationships & The Best Self

If you haven’t seen the original Star Wars movies, written by George Lucas and made in the 70s and early 80s, this post will make no sense to you. Watch them, they are great films.

What is great power? And how do you get it?

Darth Vader

Evil death lord or saver of the Universe?

There are people who make a big deal about The Force. I have heard more than one New Age lifestyle guru casually referring to the Jedi in a voice heavy with longing. The Jedi are, after all, elite warriors with absolute self-discipline, the ability to wield the life-force of the universe, and the moral high ground. Forget spoon-bending. Imagine having the capacity to raise a spaceship from a stinking bog with the pure strength of your will alone.

When I was a child, little boys longed for big light sabers and Jedi Force – to move objects at will, to shoot straight up in the air and dart away from attackers, to control the world and everything in it with the mind. The boys I am raising today also long for ‘powers’, as exhibited by the Jedi, Ironman, Spiderman, Superman and many other ab-crunching, cloak wearing, tight-suited, world savers. They want superhuman strength, supernatural power, the ability to change the world around them with extraordinary speed and skill. Who wouldn’t?

I recently watched all three of the original Star Wars movies (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). I too had a romantic view of the Jedi and their place in saving the universe from the despotic madness of the evil Emperor. However, this time, I was struck by an essential truth in The Return of the Jedi. The universe is saved neither by Jedi skill nor the Force.

The universe is saved by one man seeing the good in another.

And holding fast to that, no matter what.

A quick sketch of the final scenes for those of you who have forgotten: Darth Vader has captured his estranged son, Luke Skywalker, and brings him before The Emperor, his master, who attempts to turn Luke to The Dark Side. Luke resists. He tells his father that it’s not too late and that the Emperor can be defeated. Darth Vader hotly denies this, saying that it is impossible to go against his master, that the Dark Side is too strong.

What is true power?

What is true power?

Luke doggedly insists on the good in Darth Vader. When the Emperor’s efforts to bend Luke to his will fail, he zaps Luke with his Dark Side force, whilst Darth Vader stands by, apparently unmoved. Luke continues to appeal to Darth Vader’s better side (which Luke can only sense). The Emperor decides to kill Luke with his evil blue death rays. Luke makes one last appeal to the good in his father. Darth Vader is moved, picks up the bitter, shrivelled Emperor, mid death-ray, and hurls him into the guts of the Death Star, killing the Emperor and draining his own life force in the process. He saves his son, he saves the universe from evil, and ultimately dies for his efforts.

Luke was right. Darth Vader had good in him. Even in the face of seemingly unshakeable evidence to the contrary, Luke stayed true to his instinct. He continued to believe in the best version of Darth Vader, in the man he had once been – the trainee Jedi knight, Anakin Skywalker.

This is true power.

The Force did not save the Universe. The Universe was saved by Luke’s unwavering faith in the good that still lived in Darth Vader. And in the face of such faith, Darth Vader regained his humanity, his vulnerability and his connection to his son. He finds his best self.

Darth Vader finds his humanity

Darth Vader finds his humanity

Imagine if someone did that for you.

Imagine if the people around you saw your best self and believed in it absolutely, had total faith in that best self, even when you had tantrums, behaved badly, sank into self-doubt, withdrew, got depressed, turned wishy-washy or lost the plot.

What if you were truly seen and held to your best self by friends and family?

We’re not trained to do this. We are conditioned to criticise, complain and collude with others about what is wrong with the world, other people and ourselves. We are indoctrinated from early childhood to connect with other people via our wounding and victim selves. How often do you encounter people who really see you, who see the best version of you, even when you are inhabiting the less noble parts of yourself? How often do people tell you what your best qualities are?

Imagine if your friends and family told you what they most loved about you. If they said … “hey I know you’re having a bad day. But I see you. I see your passion, your creativity, your caring, your big heart, I see your willingness to learn, your desire to help others, your wish to contribute to the world. I see your artistic flair, your ability with languages, I see your love for your children. I see how you care about your neighbours and the world around you. I see your honesty and your integrity. I see your humour and courage.”

And imagine if these people spoke up, not because they were trying to put a positive spin on things or cheer you up, but because they genuinely saw and appreciated your best self. When we are witnessed in our truth, alchemy takes place, energy is freed up, possibilities for growth open out before us.

Who would you be?

And now imagine that you did that for yourself. That no matter what happened, no matter what curve balls life tossed your way, you held yourself to the best version, you continued to have absolute faith in that self, no matter what. And that the more you held yourself to what is good and right and wonderful within you, the more you were able to see it in others, to hold it up to the light.

Even Darth Vader, the worst and most rasping baddie in the history of sci-fi, was turned by such faith.

To be clear, your best self is not a super virtuous goodie-two-shoes, nor an uber over-achieving mogul, or any other fantasy version of yourself that you might entertain. Your best self is not better than any other person.

Your best self is your most empowered, courageous and fully alive self. It exists right now within you as you read these words.

What if you held yourself to the best version of you? Not the fantasy version, but to those qualities that you know reside within you. The ones that you feel sometimes on a good day. That fleeting sense of self that is grounded in the belly and feels just exactly like who you are. The place in yourself from which you draw strength when you are afraid. The place your true inspirations are born from. The place your intuition resides.

Imagine having unshakeable faith in that.

And now imagine doing what Luke did for Darth Vader, for your partner. It’s not hard to do it for friends. It’s almost easy to do it for your children (because you already love them unconditionally). It is possible and reasonable to be able to do it for your parents. But your partner …

Your primary relationship is the arena in which you play out your crappiest, most deeply held fears, resentments and insecurities. Everyone does it. It is also the arena with the greatest potential for personal growth, joy and connection.

It is much much easier, safer and more comfortable to criticise, denigrate and be disappointed in your partner than it is to see their best self and to have absolute faith in that. Countless relationships fail because one or both parties forget the best self and focus with rabid intent on the smaller versions of their partner.

You are uniquely placed to see that best self. You have ringside seats. You are in the inner circle.

Imagine this for a moment … a life where you see and hold yourself to your best self (not the fantasy version, but what you truly deeply know/sense to be your best qualities). You see and hold your partner to the best version of themselves (not the fantasy version you might desire, but the best version that you see/sense in them). When faced with your own or your partners smaller selves, you practice acceptance, but bring your attention back to that best self that you know lives within.

If absolute faith in the best self turned Darth Vader from a heavy-breathing evil murderer to a universe saving hero, just imagine what it could do for you and your relationship! This is do-able. It’s not hard to sense your best self. It not hard to see the best in your partner. What takes more effort is holding yourself to that, no matter what. But even small steps along that path have radical outcomes.

It is possible to wield true power and to change your life and the lives of those around you for the better.

I know Star Wars is just a movie and Darth Vader, an iconic movie baddie. But a movie is a story and stories are rich with metaphor. And metaphors are powerful tools for learning and growth.

If you would like to experience your best self more often and more deeply and see how that changes your life for the better, I can help. If you would like to learn to truly see your partner in their best self and to understand and accept their smaller selves, and see how that changes your life for the better, I can help.

  1. I never saw the movies but learned a lot from your blog. What you were saying about the partner…that point is brought out in a show I watch called Marriage Today where it says when people first get together they see the good in each other and that seeing helps bring it out. Then, later in the relationship, it can degenerate to “not seeing” unless an active commitment is made to continue to see.

    • I think that’s really true Cheryl. What most people don’t realise is that once you (not you personally!) find that person that makes your heart sing, you will unconsciously try and resolve all your woundings via your relationship. Then you stop seeing their best self because your vision is obscured by your own preoccupations. Even relationships that in their death throes can come alive again when one or both partners make a commitment to seeing the best self and acting less from wounding.

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