The Sopranos, a TV series created by David Chase

‘The Sopranos’ is an award-winning series created by David Chase that looks deeply at mental illness. Anxiety and depression are looked at with a magnifying glass, as if the writer has studied them in a lab, with a dedicated group of researchers around him.

But even if ‘The Sopranos’ paints a bleak image on family, marriage and motherhood, throughout all the six seasons, we can find inspiring lines that makes us see how our mind works, and how one can succeed in their relationships and career.

1. MOTHERS ARE LIKE BUSES

I think that the most beautiful line in ‘The Sopranos’ is the following: our mothers are like buses. They bring us into this world, drop off us at a certain point in our life and then, let us go. We don’t understand this because we remain attached and addicted to their approval our entire life.

In order to stop chasing the bus that takes our mothers away, we need to learn how to become independent from them and let them drive off into the distance. Being in therapy will help us gain the confidence needed to do that.

Here’s the discussion in ‘The Sopranos’ where Tony speaks so nicely of motherhood:

Tony: I saw at one point that our mothers are bus drivers. No…they are the bus. They’re the vehicle that gets us here. They drop us off and they go on their way. They continue on this journey. The problem is that, we keep trying to get back on the bus, instead of just letting it go.

Dr. Melfi: That’s very insightful.

2. EVEN A BROKEN CLOCK IS RIGHT TWICE A DAY

This is an English proverb that signifies how anyone can get things right, no matter how unprepared or unlucky they are. For example, a broken clock that stops at 9 in the evening, will show the right time twice: at 9 in the morning and in the evening.

So, next time when you think you’re unprepared, or untrained to start a business, finish a puzzle or fix your computer, remember that you’re born with an incredible mind. You’ll eventually make it, if you put enough effort to it.

3. A WRONG DECISION IS BETTER THAN AN INDECISION

Have you ever had to decide something important but couldn’t think of any solution for the situation you were in? You would think that if you decided and made a wrong decision, you’d regret it for the rest of your life.

In ‘The Sopranos’, Tony suggests that a wrong decision is still a good action to take compared to not taking any action at all.

According to Peter Michaleson, author of the book ‘Why we suffer. A western way to understand and let go of unhappiness‘, not deciding is a sign of inner passivity. He believes that, being frozen about taking a decision means we don’t actually want to decide out of fear of taking control over our lives.

So, next time you find yourself terrified of changing your daughter’s daycare because you think is not a good place for her, just do it. Remember that nothing is written in stone. You can change your mind as many times as you want. The worst thing is to be chewed up by the anxiety of not being able to decide.

For more information on inner passivity, read ‘Indecisive no more‘ on www.whywesuffer.com.

4. THOSE WHO WANT RESPECT, GIVE RESPECT

I assume everybody knows how important it is to show respect first to receive respect from others.

5. MARRIAGE OR ANY RELATIONSHIP FOR THAT MATTER, IS A GIVE AND A TAKE

I love this line! It sounds true on so many levels.

Tony is a wise guy when it comes to his marriage, he knows his weaknesses, but also his good parts. He is also charming enough to his long-term wife, Carmella to gain back her trust after cheating on her for years in a row.

I believe that, in any serious relationship, there needs to be a similar amount of give and take. This doesn’t mean that you should count times you helped your husband, so you can hold this against him when he refuses to support you during a stressful event.

However, it’s important that there’s a good communication between two partners in a relationship. One needs to be open about what is expected from the other and not just imagine that the other person knows (or should know).

In the article, 5 secrets to a successful long-term relationship or marriage, mental health expert, John Grohol suggests that compromise, assertiveness, honesty and trust are few of the ingredients of a healthy relationship.

6. THERE’S A LINE IN THE SAND WHEN IT COMES TO MOTHERS

In ‘The Sopranos’, Tony often brings up the fact that, if someone in the Mafia clan breaks a rule made by the main boss, then, that person needs to suffer the consequences. For example, a forbidden behavior in the ‘Family’ would be to harass someone’s mother or relative. If some ‘made man’ was caught hurting family members of a ‘client’, there would be serious consequences.

This line can be applied to relationships as well. If I draw the ‘line in the sand’ in a friendship on how I expect to be treated, but this friend would cross this line and start being disrespectful, there would be sanctions.

It’s all about having healthy boundaries. When you tell others how you want to be treated, they will know what your needs are and how much you’re willing to tolerate from others. So, make sure you draw your lines in the sand when it comes to your family and friends.

For more information about limits and boundaries, read ‘How to set boundaries and protect your beautiful self’.

7. YOU CAN’T FIGHT EVERY FUCKING BATTLE, RIGHT?

We all know that we can’t (and shouldn’t) fight many battles in the same time. Sometimes, we end up fighting other people’s battles, as well. We help others, engage in their problems and forget about what we need to solve in our own lives.

Remember that, in order to give to others, you need to have enough energy to give. This means, you’d want to take care of yourself and make sure your needs are met first. Then, you can help.

8. EVERYBODY GETS THE BLUES.

In ‘The Sopranos’, Tony kind of stigmatizes depression and the people who suffer from it. (his son and nephew) Considering that, Tony himself had depression at the beginning of the series, this is quite unfair of him.

Even though, it is true that everyone will get the ‘blues’ from time to time, only a certain percentage of people will suffer from clinical depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression affects 18% of Americans, age 18 and older.

The quote that appears in the dialogue between Tony and his son is quite hilarious, in spite of the fact that it sounds a bit ‘judgmental’. You can read it bellow.

Tony: Everybody gets the blues. There’s a half-a-billion dollar industry devoted to it.

AJ: Prozac?

Tony: No, the music business. They write thousands of songs about this shit. ‘Tears on my Pillow,’ ‘Mona Lisa’… right? 🙂

9. THINK. THE BIG FUCKING PICTURE.

I guess, what Tony wanted to say by thinking of the big picture, is to analyze a situation from different aspects.

For example, if you buy a house that has a high real-estate value but you complain that it’s not in such a good condition, you don’t think of its value. Perhaps, in five years, the house might be worth double than you paid for and it could be a big investment.

Or, if you are bummed out about paying a lot of cash to therapy, you also don’t take the big picture into consideration. In few years time, the money spent in therapy is going to pay off. Maybe going to therapy will help you become more confident, so you can get a high paying job. Think of the big picture!

10. YOU MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK IN LIFE

In ‘The Sopranos’, Tony and his clan live by thinking that nothing is given to them for free and they need to take things from others. They don’t have legal jobs and need to instill fear in others so they can get their weekly paycheck. But no matter how fucked up the mobster mentality is, I agree with the part about ‘luck’. Money, success don’t just happen. You make it.

For example, if you find a job you love by asking people around, without even having to send your resume or cover letter, it doesn’t mean you’re lucky. You made your luck, by asking help from others, by telling people about your skills and experience. By showing you are ready to do work you love. It’s not a coincidence, it’s how things work.

If you were inspired by this article, give it a share! I’d appreciate it. 🙂

Photo credit: https://hbo.co.uk/the-sopranos

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Written by Marlena Bontas
I'm a freelance writer with an MA in Social Psychology. My blog teaches people about narcissism, anxiety and wellness. One day, someone asked me what happiness is. I answered that it's the ability to accept being sad as well and go with any feeling that overwhelms you. So, I can say I am happy.