“You enter the forest
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.
Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else’s path.
You are not on your own path.
If you follow someone else’s way,
you are not going to realize
~ The Hero’s Journey: Josepth Campbell
The Hero Archetype, despite all odds, chooses to face great risk of injury by agreeing to the challenge. This blog highlights not the heroes of cosmic proportions hurling nuclear bombs into space to save the planet. Rather, this highlights the average everyday hero living life and minding his/her own business.
You are that Hero. You are called to a hero’s journey to face challenges some of which feel like cosmic proportions. Despite the fear and risk to your safety (emotional, psychological and/or spiritual), you lean in and move forward. This choice leads you to illumination of who you are and what you are capable of (the actualized self).
Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell had taken the Greek mythology of the Hero’s journey to represent the self-actualization process where you must face the dragon, save the maiden (that’s you), and the world. Below is a brief summary of the Hero’s journey: (Hartman & Zimberoff 2009):
- The Call – from Humble beginnings you hear the call for a new job, start of a marriage/partnership, or being a parent for the first time. Some adventures are dark and chilling – overcoming diagnosis, mourning a death of a loved one, or facing life-threatening illness. Whatever you face, there is chaos and you may resist the call.
- The Preparation – Meeting your guardians to prepare for the challenge. This can be real life mentors as well as meeting your shadows. Mentors are who you turn to for help – parents, friends, therapists, spiritual directors, or God.
Now as for your shadows, this is what Jung and Campbell describe as your instinctual & irrational side that makes you confront your fears. The key is to recognize you have it and own it. In preparation for the journey, you recognize the truth that you are both the hero and the dragon.
- The Journey – Confronting the challenge and Choice. Being able to walk that fine line between order (hero) and chaos (shadow), is the journey when you meet life’s struggles. The challenge is can you utilize these dual forces within you to act with integrity?
No one is capable of consistently walking the path of the hero. Recognize this truth. The key lies in owning that you have made wrong and hurtful choices and then make the decision to reclaim your goodness.
This is the journey of choice; do you choose to let go (kill) old patterns that causes you to suffer or do you make the decison to birth a new vision?
- Claiming the Treasure – You celebrate because you have succeeded in your task and have chosen to let go of your old ways for a new vision. You feel empowered with wisdom and truth. Claiming the treasure is the process of committing to what you have learned on a daily basis. This is not as easy as it sounds.
Life will continue to offer you challenges. Some challenges are similar but there will be one you will encounter that seems more intense. “Why am I facing this again?”
The stakes are higher because it takes you to the ultimate challenge – facing the Dark Night of the Soul. Intense emotions arise and may trigger old patterns tempting you to feed the dragon that had laid dormant inside you. Will your ego get in the way?
Despite all your newfound wisdom, your fears will shake you to feeling uncertain once again. The risk of returning to old patterns is real. Claiming the treasure is “living a newly treasured life”.
- The Return: Transforming your world – The journey you have undertaken leads to a realization that you are not the same person. Do you share or hoard your treasure? Buddha had also wondered this question, “can enlightenment be taught to others”?
Despite the possible rejection of your newfound perspective, do you choose to make the attempt? Another new adventure awaits.
Whatever fate brings, you are called to face the obstacles, deal with it, and keep moving forward through it. The first challenge begins with the first step – will you answer the call?
Movtivational Force: Despite fear of the unknown, the hero in you is motivated to doing the right thing and bring order from chaos.
- Challenges offer growth
- Do what is right
- Bring order from chaos
- Must persist and endure to reach goal
- Honors and values truth and life
- Remembering one’s intention to overcome fear
- Takes on challenges for noble goal – champion, defender, rescuer
- Looks at the bigger picture
- Emotional Awareness
Inner Shadow: Carl Jung, describes “shadow” as the dark side of the personality. But to be clear, this means the “hidden” aspects that lies in your unconscious. According to Jung, you distance yourself psychologically from those behaviors, emotions, and thoughts you may find unacceptable to your own values or moral code. Your shadow emerges when you suppress any aspect of yourself.
What could be more unacceptable to you as a hero when you realize that the dragon which you go out to defeat also lies within you? Another unacceptable act is failing to head the call due to cowardice.
The challenges: You thrive on doing the right thing even when it means facing your fears to do it. You must ask yourself, “Will I stand up to my fears? Will fear stop me from doing what is right?
- Fear base decisions/cowardly
- Refuse the call
- Reckless, vengeful
- Having to prove yourself
- Rescues even if not sought
- Must prove ones work
Light- Empowering Attributes
- Comfortable in Solitary Journey
- Emotionally aware, courageous
- Endures / perseveres
- Allows others to be heroes
The Lessons for the Every Day Hero:
“…the soul of the individual eternally hungers for the heroism of genuine Being,”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
The hero learns many lessons, but the ultimate lesson is knowing that you have the capacity to be both the dragon and the hero. When you acknowledge that you have the capability to make things difficult for yourself and others and yet chose to act in the light, this by definition is virtue.
The walk of the hero is a daily one. There will be days you feel proud of how you handeled yourself in a particular situation and there will be days you fail. When you fail, be gentle with yourself. Kindness and compassion begins with you.
These dual forces within you co-exists not to tear you apart but to offer you guidance in life. Self-awareness places your feet on solid ground and by developing discipline and skill you prepare yourself to embody that which you are – a hero.
Hartman, David & Zimberoff, Diane. (2009). The Hero’s Journey of Self-transformation: Models of Higher Development from Mythology. Heart-Centered Therapies Journal. 12.