Lessons from Myths, Legends and Fairy TalesMusings

Lessons from Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales: Part 8 The Princess and the Pea

The story of the Princess and the Pea is one that has long since fascinated me. One stormy night, a, mysterious rain-soaked young woman knocks on the castle doors seeking shelter from the rain. Although she claims to be a princess, the queen is not convinced and decides to test her authenticity by placing a hard pea under several mattresses of her bed. Turns out, the pea under all those mattresses kept the girl awake; she was indeed a true princess.

The most popular moral interpretation of this fairy tale seem to be “do not judge others based on their appearances” and that may be true as this regular-looking girl appearing bedraggled at the castle doors turned out to be a real princess. But surely a princess sensitive enough to feel a pea under so many mattresses would never do something as scary or daring as going out on a stormy night all on her own? Then there is the fact that, when asked how she had slept in the morning, she told the queen of her uncomfortable night and lack of sleep. Surely a well-brought up princess would have been taught not to complain?

But then I got to thinking about the princess’ authenticity and audacity – she’s pretty ‘badass’ really! Not only does this princess not wait to be rescued by a prince like in other fairytales, she knocks boldly on the door of the castle, knowing her worth. And then she speaks her truth.

We can learn a lot from this story. First by knowing our worth. This internal sense of being good enough and worthy of love and belonging. Self-worth is often confused with self-esteem, which relies on external factors to define our worth. Many of us allow our self-worth to be contingent on external event and when we do so, our self-worth becomes unstable and inconsistent.

Developing your self-worth is not easy but when we better understand how we let external factors determine our self-worth, we can shift our worth toward things over which we have control. We can recognise and boost self-worth by focusing on our strengths, what are our positive qualities? Be kind to yourself, avoid comparison but consider the role you play in the lives of others. Find inspiration in others, give yourself a challenge outside of your comfort zone, try something new and celebrate your efforts. And like the princess, speak your truth.

Speaking your truth leads you to live a life of authenticity. But remember, our truth differs from our opinions, our opinions are full of righteous judgement and an arrogant sense that we are “right” and those that disagree are “wrong”. Our truth runs much deeper than our opinions. We are all entitled to our opinions, but truth is not about being right. Truth is about how we feel and what is right for us, expressing what we think and feeling in vulnerable and transparent way. Speaking our truth will not only free us, but has the potential to make a difference for others, bringing us closer to them.

So take a leaf (or pea) out of this tale, be authentic and audacious, know your worth and speak your truth.

#knowyourworth #youareenough #berealnotright #authenticity #speakyourtruth