I know that you are seeing the pattern of a Hero’s Journey now; this is not your first time on the Journey. You have been on the Journey before, maybe two, three, or more times.
This Journey feels different, though. You think, “I know I’ve been down this path before. Why doesn’t it look the same?” You wonder why none of what you did before during this stage is working. You’re getting frustrated.
The pre-Socratic Ephesian philosopher, Heraclitus, said that, “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.” Heraclitus knew that the universe is constantly changing.
A funny digression just occurred to me. Whenever I think of “the universe,” I mentally picture space far from Earth – a telescope picture of blackness dotted with distance nebulae and galaxies. I should really be thinking of me, my mind, and my mental storyteller. That’s the only universe I truly know.
But back to our Hero’s Journey – when I find something isn’t working for me, eventually I remember I’m really in a new Journey stage: Approach. Traditionally, this stage is when you, the Hero are taking the final steps and getting physically close to the Reward of your Journey. While this is true, I find the best way to complete this stage is to change your approach – change the way you are doing things.
You will likely need others to help you now. Your current mentor may be too closely attached to “the way we’ve always done it.” Find some fresh eyes and ears to help you. Here are some examples of what I mean:
- Turn it around or upside down. If your normal time for an activity is in the evening, switch to first thing in the morning or lunch time. If you would never pay for someone to do cleaning or shopping; try it for a while and see if it frees up the time you need. Eat scrambled eggs for dinner and General Tso’s chicken for breakfast. Take your regular walk by going the other direction. Flip those common activities on their head and a lot will shake loose!
- Read a myth. Yes, read a story you might not think of as real. Myths connect us with all humanity and remind us of our own transcendent nature. Gods and goddess stories awaken that part of our consciousness that already knows what to do. You will hear the message you need from the story.
- See it from another’s perspective. You absolutely need help with this one. Choose someone you don’t know that well and tell them what your problem is and listen to what they say. Don’t defend your method or argue. Just listen and thank them. Once I was explaining my frustration to one friend about another friend’s lack of reciprocity. “She never calls me back when I need her. I am always there when she needs something. That’s what friends do, right? I’m angry and frustrated and don’t know what to tell her.” My listening friend said, “Is it really your job to always be there for her?” This response floored me. I immediately wanted to defend myself, but instead said, “Let me think about that.” I realized I needed more people I could talk to and stopped relying on just a very few – my problem was never really about the other friend.
Like most humans, I am attached to my schedule and habits, even some of my lazy, not getting stuff done habits. Changing your approach with a hard twist can be just what will push you onto the next stage of your Hero’s Journey.