This One Movie Teaches More About Identity Than 1,000 Books

By: Tyson Bradley

I’ll cut to the chase. The cartoon I’m talking about is The Lion King. And the reason why it teaches more about identity than 1,000 books is because the whole story is an identity shift. 

I actually considered putting much of what you will read below into the book I wrote Reclaim Your Inherent Identity (which currently can only be read or listened to if you join the Inherent Identity Family), but decided against it. 

All I know is that the more you learn, understand, and accept who you really are, the easier it is to create change in your life. This means that when you embrace and believe in your inherent identity, it will be easier to lose weight, earn more money, create better relationships, and achieve your goals. 

Let’s start the journey of learning the stages of identity by reading the scenes from The Lion King. As you read, I want you to see yourself in Simba’s experience. I added commentary throughout to help you connect the story to your life. 

Stage 1 – The Lie 

[There is a deep rumbling sound, and Simba looks down to where tiny stones are pattering at his paws. He looks up uncertainly. A herd of wildebeests stampedes into the gorge. Simba’s expression turns to horror.

Scar, Simba’s uncle, and the one who planned the stampede, runs to Simba’s father, Mufasa. 

Scar: Mufasa, quick. Stampede, in the gorge. Simba’s down there. 

Mufasa: [terrified] Simba? 

Mufasa manages to save his son Simba, but as he climbs to get out of the gorge, he slips and is clinging to the edge of the gorge for dear life. 

Mufasa: Scar! [Scar glares down at Mufasa from the top of the gorge. Mufasa slips and barely manages to hold on.] Brother, help me! [Mufasa’s paws scrabble for purchase, kicking bits of rock into the stampede below. Scar glares a moment longer, then rears forward, digging his claws into Mufasa’s paws.] roars [Scar leans in, grinning evilly.] 

Scar: Long live the king. [Mufasa’s face darkens with horror. Scar heaves Mufasa into the stampede. Mufasa falls, flailing.] 

Mufasa: screams [From atop the gorge, Simba witnesses Mufasa’s fall.] 

After the stampede of wildebeests diminishes, Mufasa’s body lies motionless. Simba tries to wake him up, but he doesn’t wake. He is dead. Simba is in tears. Scar appears. 

Scar: Simba…What have you done? 

Simba: There were wildebeests, and he tried to save me. It was an accident. I-I didn’t mean for it to happen. 

Scar: [with feigned pity] Of course, of course you didn’t. [Scar draws Simba against his leg. Simba nuzzles into Scar.] No one ever means for these things to happen. But the king is dead. And if it weren’t for you, he’d still be alive. [Simba stares at Scar in dismay. He slowly lowers his head and nuzzles back into Scar’s leg.] gasps [Simba looks up.] What will your mother think? 

Simba: [through labored breathing] What am I gonna do? 

Scar: Run away, Simba. Run. Run away, and never return. 

What Are Your Lies? 

Before we move to stage two, I want you to think about this experience. It’s easy to tell what Scar has done. He has convinced Simba to believe a lie. 

Simba thinks it’s his fault that his father is dead. He believes that he is bad or horrible for doing such a thing. 

He trusts Scar’s advice to run away, to hide and bury who he really is underneath the shame of his actions. 

This is no different from your experience. We’ve all had parents, teachers, and leaders teach us lies. Most of them were done unconsciously (not many parents wake up and think about how they can shame their children). 

Studies show that many of our unseen beliefs originate between the ages of 2-7. For example, around the age of 2, the amount of neural connections that occur in your brain doubles. 

Since a child’s critical thinking and reasoning doesn’t develop until later years, everything that is told to them by a trusting adult is pretty much believed

Many of the difficulties you are currently facing in life have an origination point within your childhood. There is no need to go exploring that childhood right now. You just need to know that every unhelpful belief you have about yourself is a lie. 

It’s not your fault that you have certain beliefs, like “I’m not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough.” These are lies you learned from your childhood and they keep you from living an amazing life. 

Let’s move to stage 2. 

Stage 2 – The Distraction, Dismissal, and Denial of Your Inherent Identity 

After Simba runs away, he finds Timon and Pumba, who represent the care-free lifestyle. “Hakuna Matatta” (which means “no worries”) is their motto. Simba grows up learning how to relax, eat bugs, and have no worries. 

One day a lion named Nala (Simba’s childhood friend) attacks Timon and Pumbaa. Simba wrestles with Nala until they recognize each other. They have the following conversations… 

Nala: You’re alive. And that means…you’re the king. 

Timone: King? Pfft! [Timon approaches Simba and Nala.] Lady, have you got your lions crossed. He’s not the king. [Timon glances over one shoulder at Simba.] Are ya? 

Simba: No! 

Nala: Simba!? 

Simba: No I’m not the king, maybe I was gonna be, but that was a long time ago. 

Scene change – Simba and Nala have a private conversation. 

Nala: We’ve really needed you at home. 

Simba: No one needs me. 

Nala: [forcefully] Yes, we do. You’re the king. 

Simba: Nala, we’ve been through this. I’m not the king. Scar is. 

Nala: Simba, he let the hyenas take over the Pride Lands. 

Simba: [shocked] What?…Look, sometimes, bad things happen… 

Nala: Simba! 

Simba: And there’s nothing you can do about it. So why worry? 

Nala: Because it’s your responsibility!…What’s happened to you? You’re not the Simba I remember. 

Simba: You’re right. I’m not. Now are you satisfied? 

Nala: No. Just disappointed. 

Simba: [by himself] She’s wrong. I can’t go back. What would it prove anyway? It won’t change anything. You can’t change the past. [Simba pauses and looks up at the night sky, as if talking to his dead father] You said you’d always be there for me! But you’re not. [Simba ducks his head sorrowfully.] And it’s because of me. It’s my fault. It’s my fault. cries 

Denying Your Identity 

We see within this episode that Simba has denounced his title and identity as the rightful king. He literally says “I am not the king.” He is the rightful king to the throne, but has been so distracted and removed that he doesn’t want to own the truth. 

His brain would rather tell him a lie to keep him in the familiar and comfortable life he’s living. 

This goes for you as well. Your inherent identity is that of a king or queen. This is what you were born into. And even if this belief is not a part of your religion, I want you to consider how you would show up differently if you walked around thinking to yourself “I am a queen” and actually believing it. 

It helps me to show up with confidence and power wherever I go. And it’s not like I’m looking down on anyone, or thinking that other people are my loyal subjects. I’m actually thinking that other people are kings and queens too. 

We all have a kingdom that our light touches, but if you choose to tell yourself the lie that you are not who you really are, then your performance decreases. 

Stage 3: The Remembering 

Simba runs into a baboon named Rafiki. 

Simba: I think you’re a little confused. 

Rafiki: Wrong! I’m not the one who’s confused. You don’t even know who you are. [Simba stalks off angrily.

Simba: Oh, and I suppose you know. 

Rafiki: Sure do. You’re Mufasa’s boy….Bye. [Rafiki runs away. Simba chases after him.

Simba: Hey, wait! You knew my father? 

Rafiki: Correction: I know your father. 

Simba: I hate to tell you this, but he died…a long time ago. 

Rafiki: Nope! Wrong again. [Rafiki darts away from Simba, who stares at him in confusion.

He’s alive! And I’ll show him to you. [Rafiki waves Simba forward.

You follow old Rafiki. He knows the way. Come on! [Simba follows Rafiki to the edge of the jungle. He looks hesitantly over one shoulder, then enters. He crawls under and over dark, twisting foliage.

Don’t dawdle. [From a tree, Rafiki waves Simba forward.

Hurry up! [Rafiki races away. Simba scrambles to follow him.

Simba: Hey, whoa, wait, wait! 

Rafiki: Come on. Come on! 

Simba: Would you slow down? 

Rafiki: laughs* [Simba continues to run and gets smacked in the face with a branch. Suddenly, Rafiki appears in front of Simba with his hand outstretched.

Stop! [Simba skids to a halt. Rafiki puts a finger to his lips.] 

Shhh. [Rafiki bounds over to some tall grass and pulls it aside. He motions with his staff and whispers.

Look down there. [Simba approaches Rafiki, and the two exchange looks. Simba inhales, then enters a clearing with a pool of water. He peers down at his reflection, and his expression falls.

Simba: sighs* That’s not my father. That’s just my reflection. 

Rafiki: No. [Rafiki points at the water.

Look harder [Simba looks back at his reflection, which begins to ripple and warp.

You see? [Mufasa’s face replaces Simba’s in the water.

He lives in you. 

Mufasa: [from offscreen] Simba. [Simba looks up.

Simba: Father? [In the clouds above Simba, Mufasa’s ghost strides into view.

Mufasa: Simba, you have forgotten me. 

Simba: No. How could I? 

Mufasa: You have forgotten who you are and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life. 

Simba: How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be. 

Mufasa: Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true king. 

Mufasa: Remember who you are. 

Simba: No, please! Don’t leave me! 

Mufasa: Remember 

Simba: Father! 

Mufasa: Remember 

Simba: Don’t leave me. 

Mufasa: Remember 

Remembering is one of your most powerful tools 

I would argue that this is the most powerful scene on identity in the world. Read this line from the script again… 

You have forgotten who you are and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life. 
– Mufasa 

You are an eternal being. A queen or king with the DNA of Heavenly Parents. All the characteristics of God are within you… right now. 

To forget this truth is to forget who God really is. 

You are more than who you think you are. 

You are more than what other people have told you that you are. 

You are more than even the grandest dreams you’ve had for yourself. 

If you watch the clip again, you’ll notice that Simba is hesitant to go through the dark and tangled mess of trees. Just like those moments when you might question the decision to go for a big goal. 

Simba even looks back as though he is looking back to his old life and questioning whether or not to take a step in the dark and believe this crazy baboon. 

As Simba follows Rafiki through the gnarly trees, he is caught by vines and falls down a couple times. Then Rafiki stops Simba, shushing him to be quiet and still after all the running. 

Connecting, remembering, and pursuing the truth of who you really are is not easy. You too will fall down, get stuck, and need moments of silence to really connect. 

Sometimes you are so busy in all the go, go, go, go that there is no space to listen. Thus the need to create space (this is what I do for members of The Inherent Identity Family

Simba was scared to discover the truth, but he followed a mentor despire the fear. He was reminded by his father that he was the true king. 

To forget the truth that you are a king/queen is to forget the truth of where you came from. Forgetting is a choice and so is remembering. By choosing to remember who you really are, you step into your power. Thus the repeated command from Simba’s father was to do one thing… remember. 

C.S. Lewis once wrote, 

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit…” 

Stage 4 – Deciding To Restore What Was Forgotten 

Simba talks with Rafiki after Simba’s vision of his father. 

Rafiki: Ahh, change is good. 

Simba: Yeah, but it’s not easy. I know what I have to do, but…going back means I’ll have to face my past. I’ve been running from it for so long. [Rafiki smacks Simba with his staff. Simba rears onto his hind legs and holds his head.] Ow! Jeez! What was that for? 

Rafiki: It doesn’t matter! It’s in the past. laughs [Simba rubs his head.

Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts. 

Rafiki: Oh, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it. So what are you going to do? 

Simba: First, I’m gonna take your stick. 

Rafiki: No, no, no, no, no! Not the stick! [Rafiki grabs his staff. He turns back.

Hey! Where are you going? [Simba runs off into the grass. He looks over one shoulder at Rafiki.

Simba: I’m going back! 

What Is Your Decision? 

I don’t think we are deliberately running away from our past. We’ve just developed habits of thinking over the years and don’t realize that it is our unhelpful beliefs of the past that are keeping us down. 

For example, one of my clients was deathly afraid of speaking on stages. She would shake every time she got up to speak and it was always difficult for her to get the words out. 

This challenge of speaking up originated from her past. She shared how growing up her family would read scriptures every day. And on one specific occasion, her dad corrected her multiple times after she had made some mistakes while reading. The experience left her with a deep fear of making mistakes in front of others. 

The association her brain made was this – if I speak up, I might make a mistake…if I make a mistake, then I won’t be loved…if I am not loved, then I won’t belong…and if I don’t belong, then I will be left alone and die. 

I know this sounds extreme, but in a way, our brain makes these kinds of connections in an effort to keep us safe. 

In working with my client, the helpful thing was not just facing her past head on, but rather remembering her Inherent Identity. You too can find great strength by focusing on and remembering the truth of who you really are. 

Stage 5 – Facing The Lie Head On 

Nala and Simba speak before going to face Scar. 

Nala: What made you come back? 

Simba: I finally got some sense knocked into me, and I’ve got the bump to prove it. Besides, this is my kingdom. If I don’t fight for it, who will? 

In this one statement from Simba, we see a change. He has chosen to remember and claim his rightful place as the true king. If you don’t fight for your own kingdom, then who will? If you don’t fight for your own dreams, then who will? 

Scene continued… 

Simba and Scar face off in front of the lion pack. Among the lions in the pack is Simba’s mother, Sarabi. 

Scar: Oh, must this all end in violence? I’d hate to be responsible for the death of a family member. Wouldn’t you agree, Simba? 

Simba: That’s not gonna work, Scar. I’ve put it behind me. 

Scar: But what about your faithful subjects? Have they put it behind them? 

Nala: Simba, what is he talking about? 

Scar: Ah, so you haven’t told them your little secret. Well, Simba, now’s your chance to tell them. [Scar paces past the lionesses.] 

Tell them who is responsible for Mufasa’s death. [Nala and Sarabi look expectantly at Simba, who steps forward.] 

Simba: I am. [Nala and Sarabi stare at Simba in horror.] 

Sarabi: It’s not true. Tell me it’s not true. 

Simba: It’s true. 

Scar: You see? He admits it? Murderer! 

Simba: No, it was an accident! 

Scar: If it weren’t for you, Mufasa would still be alive. It’s your fault he’s dead! Do you deny it? 

Simba: No. 

Scar: Then you’re guilty. 

Simba: No, I’m not a murderer! 

Scar: Oh, Simba, you’re in trouble again. But this time, Daddy isn’t here to save you. And now everyone knows why! [Scar lunges at Simba, who slips and barely catches on to the ledge.] 

Nala: Simba! 

[Lightning strikes the foliage below Pride Rock, setting it ablaze. Simba dangles from the promontory, while Scar looms over him.] 

Scar: Now, this looks familiar. [Scar holds a claw to his face in mock contemplation.] 

Hmm. [Simba struggles to hold on, hanging only by his paws.] 

Where have I seen this before? Let me think. Hmm. [in mock realization] 

Oh, yes! I remember. This is just the way your father looked before he died. [Simba nearly loses his grip. Scar sinks his claws into Simba’s paws.] 

And here’s my little secret. [Scar leans in close to whisper in Simba’s ear.] 

I killed Mufasa. 

Simba: No! [Simba leaps up Pride Rock and pins Scar.] Murderer! [The lionesses stare in alarm.] 

Scar: No, Simba, please. 

Simba: Tell them the truth. 

Scar: Truth? But truth is in the eye of the beho… [Simba presses a paw to Scar’s throat, choking him. Scar speaks in a croak.] 

All right. All right! [whispering] I did it. 

Simba: So they can hear you. 

Scar: [in a louder voice] I killed Mufasa! 

Scar: Simba, Simba, please. [Scar crouches.] Please, have mercy. I beg you. 

Simba: You don’t deserve to live. 

Scar: [hyperventilating] But, Simba, [through labored breaths] I am family. [Scar stands up straight.] 

It’s the hyenas who are the real enemy. [Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed listen to Scar’s betrayal from behind the flames.] 

It was their fault. It was their idea. 

Simba: Why should I believe you? Everything you ever told me was a lie

Scar: What are you going to do? [Scar grins.] You wouldn’t kill your own uncle… 

Simba: [glowering] No, Scar. I’m not like you. 

Scar: Oh, Simba, thank you. You are truly noble. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. [Scar stands.] And, uh, how can I prove myself to you? [Scar gestures definitively.] Tell me, I mean, anything. 

Simba: Run. [Scar’s face falls.] Run away, Scar. And never return. 

Scar: [haltingly] Yes. [Scar slinks past Simba, who glares at him.] Of course. As you wish… 

Scar and Simba end up fighting more. Simba uses Scars momentum to kick him away and send him flying off Pride Rock. The hyena’s attack Scar off screen. 

Facing Your Lies 

Part of the work I do with my clients is simply helping them to identify the lies that are holding them back. For example, can you tell me what false identities are stopping you from eating healthy? You might be able to share some thoughts around why it’s hard, but most likely it’ll be difficult for you to spot. 

If the core of change centers around identity, then knowing how to spot the wounded identity is pretty key. 

I’ll offer one method at the end that I think will be helpful, but you could also join The Inherent Identity Family for further help. 

Scene 6 – Fully Stepping Into Who You Really Are 

One of the last scenes shows Simba at the top of pride rock overlooking the grasslands, Mufasa’s voice speaks from above in the clouds…”remember.” 

Besides the closing song, the final words of the entire film was this…”remember”. 

Stepping into who you really are is easier said than done. It is a process of uncovering, redefining, reclaiming, and honoring. With each action you take towards being the Inherent queen or king that you are, the more you step into your truth. 


What does this have to do with your identity? 

Photo by Andrew Liu on Unsplash 

The story of Simba is your story. You were born of a king, a Heavenly King. Most know him to be God. Some call him Heavenly Father. Regardless of what you call it. You were born to rule a kingdom. You were born to fulfill a purpose. 

The problem is that long ago, you were told a series of lies. These lies kept you down, caused you to hide in shame. In a way, you ran away from your calling. You ran away from the noble quest that was yours to fulfill. 

Maybe it was your teachers that told you you weren’t good at art. Maybe it was your parents that told you that unless you behave perfectly, you are not good enough. They may not have used those exact words, but that is what you believed. Because in order for you to receive any love from your parents, certain obligations needed to be met. And when you didn’t fulfill those obligations, they were mad, and there was disapproval. 

This is how so many people grow up. We all grow up with a shame and an idea that we are not good. That we are not good enough. That there is something wrong with us and thus we are not deserving of anything great…and so we hide. 

It isn’t until someone outside of us comes and reminds us of who he really was that we progress. Simba could’ve lived a very comfortable life with no worries. Same goes for you, but there’s something within you that wants to grow. That wants to become something more. The yearning for growth and expansion is an inherited trait. It’s something that most humans have in common. 

You want to achieve higher goals. The biggest challenge in you accomplishing any goal is not about your skill level. It’s not about how much time you’ve spent on it. It comes down to one thing…remembering your inherent identity. By focusing your time and attention on the truth that you are an unlimited being, you create instant confidence and insight to fulfill any dream. 

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