Last week I was strongly challenged by a group about something I expressed. The onslaught of emotional responses and opinions made me want to crawl under a table and never come out… for a short while. It seemed like a safe place initially but I quickly realised how small and boring life under a table would be, so I came back out. What made it possible to coax myself back out was the idea that I was learning exciting new things and once I peeked an eye out from under there I saw that it was true.
I had withstood that barrage and had held my sense of self in a way I never could before. I was kind to myself when I panicked, I didn’t judge my fear, I listened to myself and kept myself as safe as I needed at each point AND I still gave myself permission to say what I needed to say. That was AWESOME!!! I feel so proud of myself. Through it, and the processing afterwards, I feel new strength within me, a new sense of my Self that wasn’t apparent before. Weirdly I actually feel safer in the world.
This week I watched a reality TV episode where someone was thrown into the worst possible situation for her. She had no control over whether it would happen or not and once she was in it she either had to tackle it or give up and go home. She really thought she couldn’t do it – and she was competing against the best of the group – but not only did she manage, she won the challenge. Her face was a picture of realisation that she can do more than she thinks. You could actually see the self-confidence growing inside her and imagine what that would mean for her life.
Then this morning my son wanted his brother to play a game that he is just too young to manage. I explained to big brother that little brother doesn’t have those tools yet. “Remember the Storm you went through?” I asked him. Yes he knew that storm. “Well you were fetching things in that storm. Your brain and heart learned to do new things in that storm. Your brother hasn’t done that yet. He has had other storms and he has fetched those skills but he doesn’t have the skills for that game yet.” That seemed to make sense to him.
And then I thought, “Every storm is us going to fetch some skills we don’t have yet. It’s the Hero’s journey.”
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” – Joseph Cambell
For sure and for certain, each storm offers us gifts and we are each our own Hero. Having said that, a journey has many stages and there are times when it feels too much for us. We don’t think we can manage what is required of us. Things happen that feel so bad and overwhelming that trying to see something good in it is just irritating. “I’m tired. Why does it have to be so bad? I don’t want to grow anymore! I want to just veg out on the couch and eat junk food and watch TV and be unconscious! Why can’t Life leave me in peace?”
This is one of the stages of the journey and – like me wanting to crawl under a table – it needs to be lovingly respected. At times like these be as kind and gentle with yourself as possible, keep yourself safe when you panic and allow yourself to rest. That’s not a cop-out. You need to rest on a journey.
So why is it so hard? Because you are going beyond what you thought you are and what you thought you could do. Stretching this way can feel scary but if you open up to the adventure of it, you can go forth into the unknown terrains with curiosity about the new tools and skills you will gain to make your life easier and ‘funner’. That way, even a storm can be fun.
I highly recommend reading a bit about the stages of this journey – especially if you are in a challenging space right now. Click on this link for the Wikipedia.
How is your Journey going, Hero?