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  • Writer's picturechristaleigh

Pygmalion and Galatea

I think I err on the practical side of woo-woo. Like, I believe that magic exists in ways we can and can't see, and that everything is made up of energy and has a frequency, and that because of this we're all kind of always colliding- with things, with people, with emotions. I find it fascinating these days that social media is, as always, taking anything good that resided in the mysterious and making it a scam. I followed an account on instagram the other day that had interesting posts, and was immediately greeted with a DM thanking me for the follow and telling me that I was in need of a psychic reading, my energy was just SO STRONG.... oh, come on.

I'm not even started, and I digress.

I believe in manifestation- that is, we become what we think about. That creation of anything begins with thought, first. And that repetition in this thought creates a reality that aligns with it. I have not read "The Secret", but I'm sure it speaks to this- the more clearly and vividly you paint a picture for the Universe, the Universe will eventually deliver.

Today was a weird day. I went to this work luncheon, which felt a little overwhelming after two years of not having to 'show up' for these things. I realized, in talking to a colleague, that I've been really resistant to embracing my dayjob- something I've been doing for twenty-five years now- for various reasons, most of which have to do with traumatic experiences and trust issues. And the thought crossed my mind, maybe I'm just distracting myself with all this writing nonsense, and maybe if I just embraced what is right in front of me, I'd feel better. Alive. Complete.

And then, later, I was doing my job. Talking to a client. At the end of our conversation, he asked me about writing. Mentioned he likes to write, has been wanting to publish. We talked for a few more minutes about it, and when our conversation concluded, a revelation smacked me square in the face.

I've always felt like I had to choose. That I couldn't be both a writer and something else. Considering there are bills to pay, the something else always wins. I ruminated on a comment I made to my client, about how speculative writing is. And then I thought, but, wait. Wow. In the last few weeks, I've been asked about writing. I've spent time with other writers. I've written. A lot.

So, Pygmalion and Galatea. The myth says that Pygmalion was an artist so unimpressed with the women of Cyprus that he decided he would create the perfect woman out of stone. The more he perfected her, the more she became alive to him. But of course, she wasn't alive- she was stone. Enter Aphrodite, who hears the artist's plea and decides to bring Galatea to life, and of course Pygmalion and Galatea live happily ever after.

There's a theory in psychology named after this Greek myth- the Pygmalion effect. It's been scientifically (statistically?) proven that our expectations of other people become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you're a manager and you think a subordinate is a lazy waste of time, you're never going to see performance from them that proves otherwise. Conversely, if you have high expectations and consistently allow the employee to believe that they are capable of rising to the occasion- they will. According to this theory, it's not enough to have high expectations- Aphrodite brought Galatea to life because she was ALREADY alive to Pygmalion. He spoke to her, dressed her, brought her flowers, ate with her, bathed her. Creepy, yes. But his belief was more than just internal. He also wasn't DEMANDING the statue to come to life, even though he longed for it obsessively. Had he just stood there admiring her, wishing that she were real, maybe Aphrodite wouldn't have been quite so willing to bring her to life. Thusly, the Pygmalion Effect would insinuate that if you want something for someone so badly that you create the space for them to become... they will.

I've been writing for at least as long as I've been working in my financial services career. In all that time, I never considered myself a writer, nor did I present myself as a writer, so it's not surprising that no one else ever treated me like a writer. At some point in the last couple of years, I was Pygmalion AND Galatea. I started talking to myself as though I am a writer. I started sharing my writing. I was vulnerable with my dream of being a writer and allowed my husband into that world to support me. The more people I've shared it with, the more alive I've become. The less I hide from the writer inside of me, the more everyone else can see her too.

Maybe we need to recognize that the Pygmalion effect isn't just a theory existing between two people- that we have the power to bring life to the things inside of us that we thought were out of reach or out of the realm of possibility. Maybe it's woo-woo, maybe it's psychology, maybe it's magic. It doesn't really matter.

It's nice to feel alive.

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