A while ago I posted a video about the importance of finding your pain and using it as a springboard into your own journey. Using the pain as a way into taking meaningful action in your life navigated by the depths of your being. But why is this so important?
The value of deep introspection, finding and feeling your pain and then truly beginning to reconnect to yourself on a deep, raw level, warts and all, are rarely talked about, and almost never is the importance of taking healthy masculine action – and i'm not talking about the Tony Robbins-Get-Rich-Quick type either.
It is for this reason that I encourage everyone to embark on the Hero's Journey... so consider me the "Gandalf the Grey" of this article...
The Hero's Journey is certainly a perilous one and once undertaken, there is no going back. Think of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit – he reluctantly has to leave the Shire and venture out into the big bad world full of orcs, elves, dwarves and dragons. In doing so he comes across many unsavoury characters and creatures which he must get past in order to progress towards fighting Smaug the dragon. Before he returns to the Shire with the ring.
Now obviously I'm not talking about real dragons and orcs that are going to get in your way, but the shadow elements of your psyche. This narrative is what Joseph Campbell references in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. And he talks about how we are drawn to these "monomyths" in movies and books – such as Lord of the Rings, Karate kid, Star Wars and such because there is a longing within our souls to go on such a brave journey, defeat our own dragon and reveal our greatest prize.
In order to integrate our shadow and become whole, we first must leave the village. What do I mean by this?
'The village' in this respect refers to your ego-mind and it is ultimately distracting yourself from your own rivers of Mordor - where all your buried emotions and darkness lies – your emotional body. This could be porn, picking up girls, TV, food, playing video games or any other number of things, including self-help or simply living in your head; whatever it is you're doing to avoid your pain so you don't have to ever face it. Many people never actually leave the village of distraction during the course of their lives, seemingly more than happy to live a fundamentally superficial existence until death.
Be warned of the “Positive and Spiritual bypass”. People can be avoiding their true pain by wearing a prozac smile and claiming to be all love and light, whilst never actually going deep into their pain. And just because someone wakes up at 4am and drinks green smoothies and collects quartz crystals doesn't mean they've made it either! Whilst there's nothing wrong with some spiritual practices like yoga or being optimistic – be careful not to use either as their own avoidance mechanisms to push your true feelings and emotions away. I've seen it happen to many people - myself included.
You need to stop running away from your pain or what I often refer to as your “inner child”. Jung calls it the Shadow, Eckhart Tolle calls it the Painbody. I call it the inner child because it's the part of you when you were young that got hurt, and the pain stayed with you in your emotional body. And it's still there like a thorn in the foot.
You have to stop running away from mindless distractions if you ever want to re-integrate and become whole. Your pain is your gateway into your authentic and liberated self – at least what you're feeling is something real, rather than the distractions you're using to procrastinate and avoid your pain. Of course, feeling and facing your pain is not a particularly pleasant experience, and you will likely encounter a lot of orcs and dragons along the way – with each thing you encounter offering you a chance to heal and integrate that part of yourself. With each one you have the opportunity to grow and integrate whatever caused the particular wound in the first place. Here's a 5 minute inner child meditation you can do to start taking that journey inwards.
Ultimately you too will have to face your own Smaug, your own dragon. This could be called your ‘core wound’ or ‘original pain.’ Ultimately, your ego wants to keep you safe and locked into your current paradigms and thinking patterns. Your ego doesn't want you to undertake the Hero's Journey and face your pain because to the ego, such a journey is the equivalent of death. Therefore it will try to fight you every step of the way when undertaking this path, but as long as you persevere and stick with yourself, you will defeat your dragon and return to the Shire. Becoming wiser, calmer and more integrated in the process.
Now, like I mentioned earlier a lot of people have still not left the village; a lot of them probably never will. But for a lot of those who have left to embark on this journey of self-discovery and actualisation, another problem occurs: that of incessantly focusing on the pain.
If we argue that leaving the village means less focus on external things like money and girls for distractions and a much greater inner focus, then there are many people who swing too far the other way so that their only focus seems to be on their inner world and what's wrong with them. And they fail to take the hero's journey into their physical world.
The thing is, if we're chronically focusing on healing and nurturing, we're actually nurturing the idea that there's constantly something wrong with us; constantly something that ‘needs fixing’ in order for us to ‘get better.’ Whilst some healing is indeed required, constant inner work and problem solving can lead us to feel like we're never getting anywhere and that we're never going to be good enough; that there's always one more problem that needs to be fixed before we're ready. Ultimately, the key word here is balance – a balance between inner healing and outward creation as a path to living a healthy life.
As I mentioned in the video, purely doing what I call Sacred Mother work (the nurturing feminine work) without any masculine action is like perpetually scratching a scab in the hope that it will somehow make it heal more quickly. Yet we all know that such action would be unhelpful and even counter-productive – once it's been disinfected and plastered the scab will heal faster if you leave it alone and get on with your day. It is the same with your inner child – once the child feels safe, seen and heard, it will want to go outside to play and create, to have fun and make the most out of life – not to be sat in his room being mothered and molly-coddled all day. This would only lead to feelings of frustration, which could even develop into anger.
This is where the concept of Sacred Father work comes into play – that of stepping out into the actual world to provide for you and your inner child, to create a great life for yourself. By doing this, it creates an infrastructure, where the child in you feels like you have him looked after at all times. And can then relax. If you fail to do this, then the child within, will start to panic and fire off emotional signals. At this point, you can acknowledge the feelings coming up, but taking action is what's really required. Lets call it “Compassioned Action”.
By taking compassioned action especially in doing something that you really love and that inspires you, you will find greater purpose and a sense of personal empowerment within your own life. You will feel more happy and alive and the inner child will not only relax but rejoice at the action you're taking! (I don't think that anyone when they were growing up dreamt of doing endless wound licking with their “conscious” friends).
Let's say you've always dreamt of being a singer. Now, doing the self enquiry work, nurturing yourself and bringing yourself more into balance, will help you greatly. They'll help you to feel more confident, more belief within yourself and less fearful and reactive of anything hurting you. However, without taking any real life action to make your dream come true – i.e. taking singing lessons, going to open mic events, recording yourself on YouTube – you're very unlikely to ever realise your dream. This underlies the fundamental importance of taking masculine action as well as doing the internal work. Now you may come up against obstacles or things that trigger and upset you by doing this, but it's then that your inner work comes in – every time you get triggered, it gives you an opportunity to go inside to nurture yourself and heal that specific wound.
Can you see how Sacred Father work and Sacred Mother work can be combined and intertwined? For every time along your path you come up against something or someone that frightens or ‘triggers’ you, then is the time to do the sacred mother work and comfort that part of yourself. It may also be a sign for you to be in your Sacred Father and put up stronger boundaries and be able to say NO to people. To be able to honour yourself through the decisions you make. This will help to restore you, give you peace and clarity as you keep moving forward.
You see, I feel a large part of this perpetual healing dilemma has its roots in perfectionism and fear. We fear stepping out of our comfort zones - leaving the physical village as it were, because we might get found out. People might criticise us or think we're stupid. Hell, they might even ‘reject’ us and our ideas. The “healing bubble” is actually attractive for the ego because it is in itself a distraction mechanism – a safety net; so long as theres a part of you that still needs working on, you won't be prepared enough to start taking action and will therefore stay nicely in your comfort zone, right where your ego wants you to be. You then start somewhat detrimentally trying to convince yourself that ‘only once I've done X or healed my fear of Y will I be able to start taking steps towards my goals.’ And so the story goes on forever.
It doesn't work like that, though. Life is an unpredictable game that can throw spanners and curveballs at you when you least expect it to. Being ‘prepared’ doesn’t mean you're not going to make mistakes or encounter situations that challenge and scare you. In fact, when you're on your true life's path you almost certainly will, and when you do, that’s where your Sacred Mother work can come in. It's these moments that are your greatest areas for growth in your life – encountering real-life situations that push your buttons and then doing the inner work to discover the cause and heal. It's also through overcoming these tricky situations that you start to grow true courage, strength and resilience. It's hard to do this just sat in your room cooped up like a chicken, consuming more self-help books or doing just one more chakra meditation.
Bear in mind also that perfectionism is counter productive – it's an ego concept designed to protect you from ridicule and ultimately death. Part of our journey here involves learning through trial and error and making mistakes! We cannot truly be of service to the world and others if we hide ourselves away in a cage of perpetual healing – we have to get out there and DO something, no matter how small that action is. It is through taking these small actions on a regular basis that we start to develop a true sense of our own purpose, and in doing so find fulfilment through path.
If you aren't bringing your own uniqueness and talents out into the world you're not only doing yourself a disservice, but are also being selfish to others who may be inspired and motivated to begin taking their own hero's journey because of your good work.
So In summary, I would ask you to have a think right now about whether you're making an effort to take that hero's journey inward and reconnect to your pain. Or whether you are choosing to remain in the comfort of your own distractions.
Also, are you doing enough to honour yourself in the sense of your gifts and be of service to others. If you're doing self-healing, that's great – please don't feel like I'm discouraging you from loving and nurturing yourself and your pain (how contradictory that would be!) – but simply ponder, ‘Am I making an equal effort to bring myself out into the world? If you answered no perhaps it's time to start exploring your options to start taking more action in your life. To start embarking upon your own hero's journey outwardly, as well as inwardly.
Leaving the village might be a scary prospect, but ultimately if you never do it you'll regret it later in your life. Also, the many people who would benefit from you doing so would never get to see the unique splendour of who you are and what you have to offer.
It's time to start feeling your pain and start creating...
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