Oh, Campbell, you were brilliant, but such a male-chauvinist: Campbell called the salient aspect of The Ordeal stage in the Hero’s Journey, “Overcoming the Father.” He saw this stage in simplest terms as when the hero moves from child to adult. (Of course, he said going from boy to man… The problem with a male-centric point-of-view is you miss a lot — like half of the human population.)
Another way of looking at this stage of the Hero’s Journey is you overcoming expectations and identities you took on without any consideration. Until we examine them, our beliefs about ourselves run our lives and limit us. Most of us are given beliefs from our parents and caregivers who themselves were given beliefs they never questioned.
Beliefs like these:
You’re not good at maths.
You always have your head in the clouds.
Big boys don’t cry.
Big girls help their mother.
You’re just like your father.
You’re just like your mother.
… and on and on.
An example most people would know: Luke Skywalker’s uncle told him he should learn to manage the farm and be content. This didn’t stop Luke’s itch for something “bigger” even though he had no idea what that was. It’s only when Luke meets Obi-Wan and finds out his father had been a Jedi does he see a potential path to change. However, his limiting beliefs about himself are still affecting him through the point when he finds out the truth about his father (spoiler!). There’s a whole movie that shows his reckoning after that.
Maybe you’ve had a life as dramatic as Luke’s. Probably not. But you are subject to the same pattern. You may be aware of the beliefs you picked up from others. Beliefs you received from parents, teachers, religious leaders are the most powerful because they are received early and often. A belief given us from a person we rely upon for our very existence can’t be questioned!! If they are wrong — >> I don’t exist.
To finish a Hero’s Journey, you must look honestly at beliefs you hold about yourself. Questioning your identities doesn’t mean you don’t love the person who gave you that belief; it means you recognize their limitations and maybe even forgive them. It means you see how the ideas you were given about yourself must be overcome in order to grow and finish your Journey.
There are lot of disciplines available to help you find these beliefs that are so deeply ingrained that they are invisible to you. Here are just two free with worksheets: