Want to play the lead role in a movie? Want to be the hero? Think you have what it takes? Then spare a few moments and let me explain how you can make this happen. This is a theory based on the book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ by Joseph Campbell. But to be honest, this blog post was inspired by a great YouTube video that was recommended to me by a friend. Ok, let’s begin…
Firstly, I’d like you to drift away with me into the realms of movie-land. Like all movies there’s a plot line and I’ll help you create yours.
Once you understand each stage, you will realise something that’s quite special and delightfully inspirational…
Just apply these simple steps and you’ll have the entire plot of your story – The Hero’s Journey.
This is your life as it stands right now. Like me, you may have concerns or burning desires. You know something needs to change but you’re not quite sure what to do and how to do it.
Call to adventure
Then by some form of intervention, you receive a mission. This could be enforced on you (like being laid off from work or breaking up with someone) or you could be handed something that shakes your belief system to the core. In movies, it could be a map or a quest for justice. You could face a physical battle that you know will test you in ways you’ve never been tested before. At this stage it’s a call and nothing more. Many people finish their movie here due to a number of reasons. The most common being the fear of failure.
My favourite part. Here’s where you meet your wizard, philosopher or mentor. They not only guide you but encourage you on your journey. It could be someone you meet for a few moments but they share a message you never forget. It could be your friend who encourages you and gets through your stubborn negativity. Or it could be an author from a book that sparks you into action after years of the opposite! Either way you receive a dose of positivity and energy to help you get started.
You set off on your adventure. You’re apprehensive but essentially excited. You’re ready for whatever life will throw at you and the wise words of your philosopher are still massaging away your initial fears.
Key to any good movie! This is where you find difficulties, obstacles and of course uncertainty. You’re not overly stressed but you’re starting to feel the heat. This could be receiving rejection letters, being turned down by the girl at the bar or being told that your new venture is not for you. How many of us have given up here? But it’s crucial not to. Your new adventure is destined to have initial trials. You must ride through these setbacks because something even bigger and dangerous is waiting…
Ok here’s where it gets scary. This is where you meet your nemesis. It could be your Darth Vader, Jaws or Kryptonite. Think of every movie villain rolled into one! You will feel the pressure and most probably think that you can defeat them first time around. This nemesis could represent your biggest fear. Is it public speaking, a committed relationship, job interviews or something that you’ve managed to cleverly avoid up until now?
You fail. Your plan didn’t work. Nothing went right and now you’re facing harsh criticism or even punishment. Your nemesis won and your movie character may have come close to death. Your energy is zapped and you give up. Time to leave the adventure behind. It was a good try but you were never up to it. Let’s go back to the status quo with our tail between our legs. In real terms it could be that you were rejected from the new career you so badly wanted, your first attempt of public speaking went wrong or your new business idea went bust. You’re a lonely figure, hollow inside and aimlessly walking through the howling wilderness of life. By some miracle the words of your philosopher pierce through the self-pity and self-loathing, reminding you of the realities of the journey and in particular the treasure you could obtain.
Just when you think it’s all over you receive your treasure. It’s the reward for keeping going. It has no form or shape but a feeling. It’s what will help you defeat your demons, slay your inner dragons and restore your faith in the journey. It could be a piece of information that changes everything. It could be a chance meeting or an opportunity out of left field that can eventually lead to your end goal. I like to think of it as the realisation that there is more than one way to get from A to B.
You do it! You conquer your fears and achieve the thing that puts you into hero status. You were once crippled with a fear of change, failure or death. But now you’re at the moment of truth. You have a sensation that runs through your body like an electrical current looking for its outlet. This feeling is pure happiness. The type of adrenaline that makes you repeatedly visualise your victory when you close your eyes at night. It’s the smile on your face that cannot be tamed no matter how hard you try. It’s success and knowledge in its truest form.
Now you return to where it all started. But this time you’re stronger and ready for the next challenge.
The quest has changed you and you’ve outgrown your old life. Your peers don’t get you; your family may see you as strange or not appreciate what you have accomplished. But so what! The truth is you’re a hero and nobody can take that away from you.
All the tangled plot lines of your life have been straightened out. There is no more doubt or confusion about your life. You may even have a purpose now and you’re equipped with the answers you once craved to fulfil it.
You’re back into the status quo that’s been upgraded to another level. Nothing will ever be the same for you anymore. You’ve sparked something in you and crave that feeling again! In short, you’re ready for the sequel.
Roll the credits…
So there you have it…your very own movie. Except it’s not really a movie is it? It’s your life so why not take on the hero’s journey to self-enlightenment.
Real life story – Hero’s Journey applied
So my status quo a long time ago was filled with self-hate and status anxiety. I wanted a job that ticked all the boxes except for the most important one…happiness. So I embarked on a career that was doomed from the start. The call to action came from a lack of work and the feeling of inadequacy. I then began an adventure to find the real me. I put away the job applications and focused on the things I enjoyed doing: reading, drawing and learning about history whilst travelling. There was no specific treasure in mind, just an emphasis on the journey. I met many philosophers on the way, some younger and some much older than me. I took wisdom from books, movies, music you name it! Of course I had moments of crisis; the feeling of uncertainty killed me at times. But I continued on until I stumbled onto my true profession…teaching.
Having quashed my status anxiety and placed my working days into the service of others, I finally felt free. I had found my treasure. I’m still living off this treasure and having moved abroad, I find myself living in a special world. It’s only when I return to my previous status quo I realise how much I’ve grown. What’s more, I find myself excited for the future and craving for the next adventure. I predict moments of love, crisis, failure, resolution but ultimately, I will remember one thing…
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Here is the the video I mentioned earlier…
I hope you find it useful.
Please feel free to share your Hero’s Journey by commenting below. It would be a great source of inspiration for us all and if anything, it’s fun to do!
As always, thanks for reading,
The Young Philosopher BCN