Self Care Coaching Lessons from Bill and Ted Face the Music

It’s not my FAVOURITE film of all time but it is way up there.

I’ve still got a warm glow from my first cinema trip since before I’d ever heard of the coronavirus.

Spoiler alerts ahead (read on at your own risk):

1) Feeling paralysed by unreached potential?

Watch Bill and Ted Face the Music!

Now middle aged dads, they’re still trying to write the song that saved the time space continuum but are playing to dwindling crowds and losing faith in themselves.

As Ted (Keanu Reeves) tells Bill (Alex Winter), ‘We’ve spent our whole lives trying to unite the world and I’m tired, dude.’

I totally empathised with their wives and families AND admired their persistence as they stayed true to their musical dreams and kept writing and making music.

Have you got a dream (writing? Art? Music? Business? Going back to university? ANYTHING AT ALL) where you KNOW, deep down, that you have it in you but it’s hard to keep believing in yourself when you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped to harvest decades ago?

Bill and Ted at least had each other.

And their daughters.

And – to a degree – their wives.

But it’s hard to balance that dream of what you feel (they had it on good authority from their Future Selves and the Great Leaders) you were put on this earth to do when nothing seems to be working.

What supports might YOU put in place as you explore a greater sense of purpose, meaning and joy?

How can you, as the ever wondrous Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, support your art so your art never has that pressure of having to support you? (She had several books published before Eat, Pray, Love became the global phenomenon that enabled her give up the other jobs).

You might enjoy her (Bill and) TED Talk on creativity and genius HERE

2) Keep your priorities in focus?

While Bill and Ted had spent more than 25 years working on their music, it was the thought of losing their wives and daughters rather than the more abstract pressure of having to save the world that helped them get themselves together and go to Hell and back.

Even IN Hell, there was no wasting time arguing with reality. How were they doing? Apart from being dead and in Hell, good!

Rufus’s watch helped them keep an eye on the time in order to complete their mission and save the world.

What are your priorities?

Maybe it’s ONE priority?

How can you give it your all and give it an actual chance of success?

3) Get to know yourself

When Ted acknowledged how weird he gets with Other Teds, he made more of an effort to get to know the different versions of himself he was meeting.

The more we can get to know ourselves and own the good and the more challenging aspects of, well, us, the less we project our shadow stuff (the stuff we hate about ourselves) onto others.

If we ALL put in the work to integrate our whole selves, we truly would have a more peaceful, caring, sustainable planet to share.

As you look at old pics of yourself, notice the ones you smile at and the ones you have a more troubling relationship with.

4) Forgive yourself for the bits of you you don’t like

Trauma therapy can help (if needed) but we can ALL acknowledge that we’re all basically doing the best we can with what we’ve got in any given moment.

When we are clearer on what we need and want, we can access it more easily and stop being at war with disowned parts of ourselves.

For example, if you want to become more assertive and boundaried, it can be challenging to let go of the part of you that wants people – even strangers – to like you. Your discomfort when people want too much from you may be too uncomfortable to bear and you might cave into others’ demands or you may brace yourself and be true to what feels right for YOU in any given moment.

Bill and Ted continued on their musical quest, Princesses Elizabeth and Joanna ignored their husbands’ pleas to NOT go with their own Future Thems as they knew there was no reality in which they made sense.

5) Cultivate an open heart and appreciate what’s good

Even when they were frustrated with them, Elizabeth and Joanna were kind. Bill and Ted (I can only imagine how frustrating this might have been to live with for 25 years) were loyal, loving husbands.

Their daughters had a beautifully diplomatic way of focusing on the more bodacious elements of their dads’ and Death’s more experimental sounds. They weren’t lying about what wasn’t working but their respect and focus on what worked turned out to be THEIR musical genius.

6) Allow space for silence

When the musical greats the daughters assembled were all together, it wasn’t time and space saving harmony right off. Each tried playing together.

By stopping everyone, pausing, listening to the silence – a HUGE gift in the face of world ending chaos – they were able to not only bring in Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart, an ancient flautist and drummer, their dads and Death (ever magnificent on bass) but they were also able to honour the sounds of everyone who had ever lived*. If they’d given into the chaos, it wouldn’t have worked.

7) Make space for the magic of diversity

SOME people think I’m overthinking a silly film.

But imagine if, in an effort to bring humanity together, heal not just from the virus but from all the horrors that are coming up for healing in this Very Strange Year, we took time to listen to different types of instruments?

To give it our own spin while honouring the inspiration (eg, Jimi and Mozart, Mozart and the flautist, Louis Armstrong and everyone else)?

8) Trust your talents and your instincts

Even without a common language, the flautist and drummer trusted.

What if we were so sure of our own talents, we seamlessly transitioned from ancient drumkits made of bones to the state of the art Marshall set suddenly available?

Similarly, Kelly (Kristen Schall) stayed true to her instincts even when her Great Leader mother sent a killer robot named after her ex.

And she was right.

9) Things only make sense at the end of the story

As the inscription on Rufus’s watch reminded them, it wasn’t over yet.

No matter how dire things may feel, we can remind ourselves that while 2020 feels messy, we’ll (depending on us taking each next best step) look back and see how it was all necessary in order to create the better world for everyone.

We can’t control what anyone else does but by holding a vision for a better world, our choices are more likely to contribute to the kind of world in which everyone is valued.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor


*I just had a momentary pang that I don’t remember this moment in my own life. First I reminded myself it was just a film but then I remembered that it might not have happened yet and Future Eve might get to participate in a global healing moment through music!

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