Be Charlie Brown

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 4.37.19 PMThis week’s post on my Facebook page for drew so many views that I’m posting here, too. This is about why we should keep trying, even when others don’t see the point of our trying and when we also might not see the point of trying.

I saw The Peanuts Movie the other night. I’m glad not to be someone who jumps up once the final scene is over, because while watching the credits I came to understand the essence of Charlie Brown, at long last.

Here’s why you should watch the credits of at least this movie:  You get to see the classic, now iconic “dance” of Charlie and Lucy. By “dance” I mean dynamic. During the credits we see an updated version of Lucy holding the football for Charlie to kick while Charlie gears up to run and kick it. He’s focused. He’s hopeful. Every time in the past Lucy has withdrawn the ball at the last minute, and yet Charlie wants to try again. And as he’s about to begin his run, the audience starts thinking, “Don’t! Don’t be a fool. Don’t fall for it, you know Lucy will pull the ball away — she does every time!”

But he runs for it. He runs and as he pulls his leg back to kick the ball…Lucy does her thing, she pulls the football away and Charlie lands on his back. Then Lucy calls him “gullible.”

What I need to tell you is: Be Charlie Brown.







Even if your spouse or old friend joke at your attempts to learn something new, even if one of your inner voices tells you to give up and that it’s no use to go to the gym, to learn yoga, to take a cake decorating class, to change your hair style, to stop because you’re not getting the hang of it quickly enough, to try new things for the heck of it…to try and try, again and again — do it.

Don’t concern yourself with what Lucy will or won’t do, that’s Lucy’s shtick. Lucy symbolizes chance, life, and the ‘haters.’ Concern yourself with what you will do, your own story, will, and your bliss.

There’s no greater humiliation than not trying. Charlie embodies trying, again and again.

Be Charlie Brown.

- be kind to yourself


Amy Eden is the author of The Kind Self-Healing Book: Raise Yourself Up with Curiosity and Compassion




  1. Clayton says:

    Hello! I just saw this movie and had some similar thoughts lol I am in recovery and have been intrigued by your blog. I have my own recovery blog and I work in a treatment center. I have had a slow start getting followers and was wondering if you had any tips for me?? Please email me if you have any kind words.
    Peace and Love

    • Amy Eden says:

      Hi! Great to hear that you found the Charlie Brown idea intriguing, too. (I kept thinking, “There’s a metaphor here, there has to be…”)

      Wonderful that you’re blogging and connecting with others. That’s the way to do it. :-)

      I have come to think in terms of connections and sharing rather than the followers idea of social media. And as an introvert, I need to focus on having one or two meaningful connections rather than mass appeal. I’d recommend collaboration, sharing posts from other blogs and seeing if you can guest blog on another, similar blog. And I recommend writing from your personal experience, being specific and honest (it’s not a formula, it’s my observation). Even with the writing you’re doing, which is more reporting than personal sharing, you can have a voice and an opinion — you can play with that more and generate powerful posts.

      Don’t worry much about followers. Just keep writing. I’ve written during times of followers and times with no followers. I hope people listen, but I write to write. Ultimately, I write simply to figure out all this stuff.

      Though, to be more helpful and practical, I’ll offer these 3 tips:

      - Create a tab on the main page that links to the blog – give it a whole lot more visibility;
      - Feature the work of others – share an article that would be of interest to people in recovery, and add your thought to it, add a fresh perspective;
      - Write posts that feature people doing important work in recovery, whether you do them as interviews or not.

      love & light to you!

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi there. I’m curious how you think this relates to the Lucys on our life. The ones who have let us down time and again. My mom is a Lucy in my life and I have drawn a boundary with her to protect myself and my family. But there goes Charlie giving her infinite chances and hoping that *this* time, things will be different. They never are. Their relationship is unhealthy. The same dysfunction remains. I’m thinking the metaphor breaks down a bit if we are supposed to set healthy boundaries with folks like Lucy. At some point, shouldn’t Charlie say, “Nope, Lucy. You are not a friend and I’m not falling for it again?”

    • Amy Eden says:

      Darn great question.

      Does Charlie expect Lucy to change? Does he care if she does? Nope. That’s key.

      I see the metaphor of Lucy and Charlie to be this: Lucy is a given and she will be Lucy, again and again — I wouldn’t even go so far as to say that she will disappoint Charlie because that assumes intention. So the question becomes, if Lucy is going to be Lucy, what are you going to do? It would be folly to expect anything other than Lucy to be Lucy for her own reasons. In the movie, Charlie is not swayed by Lucy’s criticisms, he continues on his Way as if she weren’t a part of his decision-making, and, in fact, Lucy becomes a bit softened herself when she sees Charlie change and behave in new ways. She changes (just a tiny bit) when she sees Charlie break new ground.

      Charlie isn’t giving *her* chances, he’s not in a dynamic in that sense. He behaves without regard for what she will or won’t do.

      The lesson from that is: we must do what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves — we must follow our path. This is true especially with Thanksgiving and the holidays upon us! We cannot expect the Lucy’s in our lives to be anything but Lucy’s. Taking a new approach is all we have control over.

      I will say that interactions with Lucy’s are moments to practice at our work. It’s not a failure when we have a disappointing interaction and get into a mind frame where we *expect* a Lucy to finally change — it’s a reminder to do our work of being Us, being on our path, and of what we can control (and cannot control).

      If your mom pulls up the ball you’re about to kick, ask yourself, “Why did I want to kick the ball my mom is holding?” Do you want to kick it only to see if she’ll hold it steady for you? Ah, well — then ask, why are you invested in that dynamic? And, ask: If you come at the situation expecting her to pull up the ball, how would you approach it differently? You’d probably say, Hey, why don’t you kick the ball, Lucy — or you’d ask someone else to hold it for you…depending on what your objective is. The key is to do what you need to do for your growth and peace, and detach from expectations that others will act as you hope. (That’s the tough work of live!)

      Choosing to NOT kick the ball is also kicking the ball.

      Be kind to yourself :-)

      • Eileen says:

        I admit I did not see the movie, but I was specifically thinking of the dynamic of the ball that repeats itself throughout the Peanuts comics.

        I’m happy Charlie goes on his merry way without caring what she thinks. That is precisely the direction I have gone with my mom and other “Lucys.” I can’t change them. In hopes of building the relationship or changing a dynamic, I have sometimes talked to them and pointed out how it makes me feel when they pull the ball away. From there, I figure it’s up to them to decide whether they want to keep pulling the ball away or make a change for the sake of the relationship. If they pull it away after that, I change ME.

        I don’t kick the ball.

        I was afraid to do this at first. Our interactions had always been them holding the ball, me going to kick, them pulling away. I thought that’s how it had to be. I only recently realized that I didn’t have to play.

        It is truly liberating. Though other folks tend to insist that you maintain the status quo because that’s how it’s always been done. Imagine a Peanuts episode where the ball exchange didn’t happen or Charlie just said no thanks!

        Especially with the holidays upon us, I’m taking more of a ‘no thanks’ approach (I read your post about that with dysfunctional family dynamics and it describes my situation to a tee) and hearing the grumblings about it. I thought maybe you were suggesting that we keep playing football with them, but I would love to see Charlie walk away from the game and tell Lucy to kick it herself. “Have fun, Lucy. I’m not playing this time around.”

        • Eileen says:

          Thanks for your reply!!

          Wishing you a peaceful holiday!

        • Amy Eden says:

          We don’t have to play ball. Seeing that truth is truly liberating, isn’t it? It’s powerful to realize, to see, that we don’t have to engage, that we can choose different actions. We have to discover that on our own, because goodness knows *they* aren’t going to tell us that — a part of them want us only to play our role so that they can continue playing theirs.

          Discovering that we can choose to disengage (however that looks — walking away, creating new family, etc.) is so liberating. That choice-making is a part of the journey of growing up, depending on your childhood, to see that if ‘home base’ or family of origin is not loving and uplifting, that then our journey of growth necessitates that we disengage by growing away from the original tribe. It’s scary to act on the realization of seeing the toxicity because it feels like we’re turning our backs on our tribe, on silent family agreements, or even abandoning our family. Our culture seems to value the ‘loving family’ ideal even in the face of rampant dysfunction, which leads to insanity (trying to be a “good” daughter when the act of being a “good” daughter itself leads to depression…)

          I learn this over and over. Over and over I find opportunities to see where I’m expecting Lucy to hold the ball firm. Oh, do I.

          Beyond the obvious toxic relationships, there are the small, everyday or ‘micro’ interactions that are opportunities for work, that require detachment, too – like expecting to be liked, praised, or even understood.

          It’s a life’s work.

          I’m glad to know that you’re on this journey, too. :-)

  3. dmarie says:

    This post immediately brought to mind, Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on vulnerability and the infamous Roosevelt quote she frequently highlights:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    Dare greatly, friends.

  4. Diane says:

    I love this!!

    Today, I had a very bad discussion with my mom-shaped “Lucy”. I know not to expect much from her, which seems to prompt her to instinctively get more creative in trying to set up no-win situations for me. The more I refrain from playing her game or reacting, the more she’s inspired to turn the screws tighter.

    Now, you’ve given me a great visual to keep in mind while in her presence. I think I’ll change her photo in my phone to this, as a reminder when she calls!

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