What is the Hero's Journey and how am I the hero?
In his 1949 book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell studied countless fairy tales, myths, legends and folk tales and discovered a pattern. He called it the "mono-myth" or The Hero's Journey.
Campbell noticed that all heroes and heroines took more or less the same journey. He described the evolution of the hero's character through three phases: separation, initiation and return. It includes a symbolic death and rebirth, where he/she transforms from the old to the new.
The Hero's Journey
A heroine starts off in her own village/school/office. Something happens that causes separation from that situation. She loses her job, finishes school or a relationship ends through either death or breakup.
Whether she likes it or not, this person is now on an adventure. It's an adventure full of many challenges. A mentor or helper will appear, to guide her on her way. In fairy tales, they may discover they have magical powers and all the struggles that go along with that.
Finally, the hero triumphs. Evil has been vanquished. The initiation from Ms Average to Hero has taken place.
The journey isn't finished yet because the hero then must return to the village and share the treasure.
The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy lives on an average farm in Kansas but deep down she's wishing for something more. Her wish is granted when a tornado sweeps through the village one day, lifting her farm house into the clouds, over the rainbow and dropping her right in the land of Oz.
Glenda, the good witch of the north greets her with a "call to adventure". She invites her to follow the yellow brick road and seek out the Wizard of Oz if she truly wishes to find her way home.
Dorothy embarks on the classic hero's journey, meeting helpers to aid her and acquiring magic slippers. She faces many challenges and struggles and almost dies on her journey.
Finally they find the wizard, only to discover that he is a fraud. But it doesn't matter because the trials of the journey have initiated her from farm girl to hero girl and she realises that what she was looking for was inside her the whole time. All she had to do was click her heels to return home.
Separation, initiation and return.
This pattern can be found in just about any adventure movie you care to see. So how does that relate to your own story?
All of us, as human beings, share the same fears and desires. We all fear pain, judgement and death. We all desire love and happiness. The reason we are captivated by stories like the Wizard of Oz is that it's our story too. Their journey is our journey.
You are the hero of your journey. It doesn't have to be saving the world from the evils of dark forces or saving a drowning swimmer from the ocean. You are the hero of your own day to day life.
Do you continue to allow fear, your insecurities or your past pain to dictate your life? Or do you choose to live with courage, to find a better way, to be a better person and to live with compassion?
Awareness of the hero's journey gives you a roadmap for where you are on the cycle. Are you listening to your call to adventure?
My Hero's Journey
Only six years ago, I was in a difficult place. I was a single mum longing for something more for my own life. I'd been divorced and had since been investing my time and energy in the wrong places for finding a good man. The pain of several years of this turned out to be a gift - because it woke me up.
What was I doing? Why was life feeling so hard? Why were all the men I was dating during this time so far from what I dreamed for myself and my future? I suddenly realised that I needed to do things radically differently if I wanted to achieve the life of peace, love and compassion that I desired so much.
I had been told about a book called The Rules from two separate sources in my life: a girlfriend, Sally and my cousin, Vanessa. Sally mentioned it about a year before Vanessa. I trusted their judgement so I read The Rules and it became nothing less than my "call to adventure."
So like Dorothy, I embarked upon my own yellow brick road, equipped with a set of Rules that promised to magically weed out all of the players and time-wasters, the buyer beware guys and would help me to attract and keep the man of my dreams, my future husband. I stumbled upon support networks online, and I found a wonderful mentor who offered wise, profound advice.
The challenges I faced, the mistakes I made along the way, the trips and the falls, all strengthened my resolve and somehow deepened my understanding about how there really was, no other way than this. I was fascinated by how the universe brought me situations and people to teach me what I needed to learn at each stage of the journey.
Then one night I was introduced to my husband. What followed was a beautiful, again magical, courtship, engagement and marriage. I had taken the journey that started in my own small village of inadequate boundaries - a lack of awareness of what makes a relationship loving, healthy, enduring and longing for the holy grail of a wonderful husband. And then I became my hero. I transformed into a better version of the girl who started the journey only a few short years ago. I became a better girlfriend, fiancée and now wife, than I ever would have been, had I not taken this hero's journey. I also became a better mother, friend and manager. I then returned to my village with this new-found wisdom, to share with other women through leading by example and by coaching those who seek my guidance.
What is the Hero's Journey? It is the journey of your life. Are you answering the call?
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