How a Hero’s Journey Feels

I learned recently that the words emotion and feelings are not interchangeable.  From philosopher William James, emotions are body-driven and feelings are thought-driven. The brain’s quick reaction to whatever stimuli it perceives causes a physical change in the body (emotion).  Our thinking mind makes a judgment call with a label and interpretation (feelings). I will do my best to use the words correctly here.

When you decide to go on your Hero’s Journey on purpose, you should be fully aware:  it’s not going to be like a Levi’s jeans commercial.  There may be dancing at some point, but it won’t be most of what the Journey is like.  Your emotions will zig and zag wildly from terror to euphoria.  Maybe they’ll swing from joy to despair.  Maybe even even on the same day.

I had heard that you can’t control your emotions.  I thought, “Well, that’s bunk.  If I want to feel happy, I’ll feel happy.”  Then I thought, “Wait.  Remember that morning last week when you felt nostalgic and spacey, a little weird, but good-weird?”  Hmmm.  I didn’t purposely create that emotion.  I still can’t even describe it well.  “Remember going through menopause and crying for no reason at all?  Just driving to work and you started to sob.”

Your Hero’s Journey calls out emotions before you have any idea how to deal with them or if they are causal or not.  Deciding to go on a Hero’s Journey opens you up to the roughest road of all:  feelings you think you can’t deal with.

You may be right.  You can’t deal with them.  I will amend:  You can’t deal with them alone.  Your Hero’s Journey requires a mentor and allies.  They are how you get through feelings you didn’t ask for and don’t know how to deal with.  Every emotion you can feel is also felt by others.  It’s very likely that  when you share how you feel, your allies will nod, sigh, and commiserate with you.

I guarantee you they have felt that way, too.  Maybe not right this second, but they do know and that’s why they are here on this Journey with you.


Photo by Nathaniel Tetteh on Unsplash

One thought on “How a Hero’s Journey Feels

  1. So true, Pat! Emotions and feelings both come and want to be dealt with. Usually, when I’ve made some bigger step, next I know I’m facing some kind of huge emotional feelings mix. I’m glad I do have a mentor by my side and allies. And a lot of tools for handling emotions as well as feelings. Thanks for your article!


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