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Life Lessons from Finding Dory

Updated on July 13, 2017
HealthbyMartha profile image

I'm a Certified Health Coach who wants to help you create the best balance of spiritual, physical and mental health that is possible.

Just Keep Swimming

I went to see the movie Finding Dory yesterday with a dear friend of mine who had not yet seen the film. Neither of us have youngsters which is why we probably had not yet taken in the movie. But, we quickly learned that the movie had some deeper messages hidden amongst the animated cuteness that would make this a much more meaningful movie going experience than we had at first anticipated.

I love all types of movies; movies that are deep and make you think; comedy and drama. But, this was a delightful surprise to expect sort of light hearted fluff but to be moved to tears and to find some unexpected messages that tugged heavily at my consciousness.

Probably the first and deepest message to sink in was that of "Just Keep Swimming". Dory speaks this refrain often to herself, throughout the movie. It's her way of staying positive and not buying into any anxiety that she might otherwise be feeling. What excellent advice! Maybe we could all benefit from this type of Mantra!

While Dory may literally have been thinking of the act of swimming, we can look at this as an analogy as well. That to "just keep swimming" is another way of saying that we aren't going to give up, no matter how hard life becomes or how tempting it might be to give up.

Pretty sound advice from an animated fish, but I think if we are wise we learn that we can be educated and find new ways of living from almost any source! The key is to have an open mind and to live in the now.

To live in the now is to recognize that "now" is the only time that is real! If we are feeling anxious, it's likely because we are living in the future or projecting worry or fear about something that is yet to happen. When we find ourselves feeling depressed, we often can see that we are living in the past; ruminating on failures or mistakes that have gone by and are no longer able to be changed.

When we live in the now, we have the best chance for contentment and peace. We will feel more resilient and find it easier to "keep swimming" and feel less like giving up and quitting.

That Dory had a few other sound pieces of wisdom as did her friends and her family of choice, Nemo and Marlin. Let's look at some other pearls of wisdom that we can take from Dory.

What Would Dory Do?

Many times throughout the movie, Dory would find herself stuck; literally and figuratively. All she wanted was to find her beloved parents, from whom she'd become separated as a baby. But, throughout her journey she would find herself repeatedly up against the wall with seemingly no options left at her disposal.

When Dory becomes separated from Nemo and Marlin, they found themselves thinking aloud about "What Would Dory do?". This was a pretty profound occurrence actually, because prior to this, they had felt that Dory was rather helpless and hopeless, and would not have considered that what Dory might do was of any consequence to them.

But, they lost some of those preconceived notions about Dory as they paid closer attention to her and how she was navigating herself on this quest to find he parents. And, as they showed their confidence in Dory, she found a bit of confidence in herself! Before long, Dory was heard to say "What would Dory do?" herself! She came to recognize that she was growing as a fish, and learning and was no longer the helpless, hopeless creature she had always been.

We also must be open minded to seeing the changes we create in ourselves as we work toward self improvement. All the changes that we create are not worth much if we don't take a moment to recognize the achievement! We must be our own cheerleader in life and to pat ourselves on the back when we successfully make a change in the positive direction we've been seeking.

What if Dory failed to believe in herself? She might not ever have continued her quest, leaving her without ever reconnecting again with her beloved parents. But, she did believe in herself and it was this that propelled her further forward and kept her on the course without giving up!

Wouldn't it be lovely if each of us were given a life long cheering section that would keep us motivated and encouraged through all of life's stormy seas?! But, we know that this is not the way it works. No, better to develop a strong sense of self love and appreciation and then bolster yourself with that love and encouragement to persevere through even the toughest times.

The next time life feels scary; answers aren't coming, or you feel worried about what step to next take, as yourself "What would Dory do?" and remember your wealth of resilience just waiting to guide you.

Who Say's You Can't do that?

The last step in our lessons from Dory would be to believe in yourself even when nobody else does! Perhaps, even when you yourself are doubtful.

Several times in the start of the movie Dory would repeat that she had "short term memory loss" to explain her problems. She had very little faith in herself because she was so fixated on her failing as to memory.

But, over time she found that she was able to do things that she had previously believed to be impossible! Once she stopped thinking only about her memory problems, she actually started to develop some memory skills! She had become so focused on her lack of ability that she didn't allow herself room to see how very much ability she actually had.

We can get in this trap, much like Dory. We all have an "Achille's Heel" about some weakness either real or perceived. Maybe you have problems remembering people's names, or you have some degree of social anxiety. These problems could cause you to believe that you are your problems and thus you can't change them. But, remember; you may suffer anxiety or not have the sharpest memory but these are attributes of you, not the essence of your being!

We all possess a great capacity for change, especially when we are personally motivated to change. Dory was so caught up in finding her parents that she forgot to remember that she had no memory! In forgetting her problem, she almost overcame the problem altogether!

What we focus on with intent is what we manifest! If one is afraid of being alone, and they think all the time about the fear, the fear is what they will feel! If instead, one recognizes their fear but puts their focus on the positive aspect of being alone, perhaps the fear will abate and the experience of being alone will feel less upsetting.

There is a duality to everything. We can choose to focus on the negative aspect, or on the positive aspect and the results will be dramatically different. Had Dory continued on believing that she could not do anything she wished to do because of her memory problem she would not have set out looking for her parents, and certainly would not have found them!

But she took a small leap of faith and decided that to find her parents was far more important than to stay stuck in the belief that she would never be successful in finding them.

Are there situations in your own life that you could perhaps take a small step forward, and leave behind the fear? Perhaps a baby step or two could lead you to be capable of achieving something that you had previously believed was impossible?!

Don't let anyone else tell you that you "can't" do something! Surround yourself with people who believe in you and become a believer yourself! You can do mirror work and look into the mirror and repeat positive affirmations. You can be like Dory and sing to yourself "Just Keep Swimming". But, you must let go of the belief that you can't do something if it's something that you want to do.

You may never be able to paint an award winning painting, or compete in the Olympics, but if you want to paint, you just go out and paint! If you love sports, go and be the best YOU in the sport of your choice. The point is to let go of self limiting belief's and do the things you really want to do.

So, Just keep swimming and believe in yourself! You got this!


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    • HealthbyMartha profile imageAUTHOR

      Martha Montour 

      2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      CYonga74, Sansoph, vishals blog, Thank you each for taking the time to read my work and to also take time to send such lovely comments. I'm feeling so blessed! May we all keep swimming and staying afloat in life's waters!

    • profile image

      vishals blog 

      2 years ago

      Keep Swimming and Keep Going.

      Hope Matters. Good one

    • Sansoph profile image


      2 years ago

      Thanks for writing this. Can't agree more! Keep swimming...Cheers!

    • CYong74 profile image

      Kuan Leong Yong 

      2 years ago from Singapore

      For me, "just keep swimming" is the best and only advice to offer to parents with disabled children. What can they do? What else can they do, other than to do whatever they could, and to continue living courageous.

    • HealthbyMartha profile imageAUTHOR

      Martha Montour 

      2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Jody! Keep swimming!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Well written, a lot of lessons we can learn from a little blue fish. Believe in yourself.

      Thanks you


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