Monday, January 15, 2018

The Hero's Journey

Life is hard. That doesn't mean it isn't wonderful, beautiful, and amazing as well, but it is hard, and often damn hard. We also must acknowledge that recovery isn't quick, easy, or painless, but it is worth it, YOU are worth it, and your family and friends, such as they are, are worth it. What is recovery? One definition is to recover what was lost or stolen, another is to return to a state of full health. 

We needed help then, and we need it now as life throws many challenges our way. As adults our problems can multiply and overwhelm us, particularly if we have poor life skills and little help from family or others. It can feel claustrophobic, as if we are trapped and alone. We need help. We need a hero, and why not a super powered super hero!?

Now that might really sound crazy, but read on, and not just with your mind, but with your heart. The first and most important step is to build an awesome relationship with a Higher Power. Why? Because all the power, presence, beauty, and wisdom of the universe is waiting to help us, to help YOU. It is way to much to cover here so we urge you to see the Higher Power Sanity File.

What are the "Super Powers" inherited from our Higher Power that our Super Hero uses? For the full story take a look at the Super Powers Sanity File, but one short list seven thousand years old from "The Path of Purification" is "The Immeasurables" of loving kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. Consider the alternatives of hatred, hard heartlessness, sorrow, and chaos and how they drain the life out of us, and the power of these higher principles and virtues becomes obvious.

For many of us the loss of our power started very early on as we were actively or passively abused and/or neglected as a child, some even in the womb through parental alcohol, drug, or other abuses. As a child the stages of development were corrupted and arrested through-out our youth, and may hinder us the rest of our lives. For much more information on this see the Inner Child Sanity File.

A healthy child has many fine qualities such as curiosity, imagination, joy, and love, but also consider how children can be adventurous, passionate, truthful, and daring just like a super hero! It is only natural they have an attraction to these examples of living boldly. Too often these attributes are squashed in favor of parents and others wishes, so this is an important part of our quest: to recover the inner child.

For many of us the inner child has been locked away for years, perhaps decades to avoid being abandoned, abused, hurt, and shamed as mentioned above. This is a necessary step for it is the doorway from Higher Power to our heart, our truth, and on to our adult and inner parent. Inner parent? Yes, we all need someone to take care of us, to nurture us, and be there for us.

The adult in us is the rational, reasonable, and responsible part of us that is a good student, employee, family member or friend. We consider the inner parent not only a wise adult, but a step above as responsible for others like a manager, teacher, or leader. A really excellent parent can easily be considered a super hero, and this is what we are trying to create here, for ourselves and others in our lives. For more information check out the Inner Parent Sanity File.

When we think of Super Heroes today our minds naturally jump to the comic book, cartoon, and movie figures of Super Man, Wonder Woman, Spider Man, and many others. The longstanding Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the definition as "a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person."

Now consider the real life Super Heroes we all know, admire, and can relate to such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Malala Yousafzai, Mahatma Gandi, and Nelson Mandela. These people simply rose to the challenge of their time and place and did what needed to be done. We don't know how much they depended on their Higher Power, favorite songs and sayings, and inner selves, but chances are they did, as their words immortalize:

“If any earthly institution or custom conflicts with God's will, it is your duty to oppose it. You must never allow the transitory, evanescent demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God” Dr. Martin Luther King. "God has no religion. God is love. It is the only truth I fully accept" Mahatma Gandi. 

Teddy Roosevelt also said it well; “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

Any one of us can follow in their footsteps and become just as great. We all have the same (Super) power and potential. The way things are going it seems everything will have to change, and to change everything will take everyone. It is no small task, for yes, our task is to save the world, each and every one of us, starting with our smaller personal worlds, and working outward from there like ripples in a pond as far as we can.

Another important aspect is our fear of the Hero's Journey described by Maryanne Williamson; “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

It is a hard a hard road, and one that often requires a heroic effort. We all have that warrior, that hero within us. Realizing, accessing, and empowering that hero to return to our True Self is the heart of our quest. What is the True Self? It is the sum total of all the parts of us that make up our whole, such as Nature, Higher Power, Inner Child, and Inner Parent. Together they are an even more powerful force. Learn more in the True Self Sanity File, and a longer more detailed look here.

To make this dangerous and difficult journey we are going to need all the help we can get. There is help, there is hope, healing, and happiness waiting on the other side. We need access to our inner warrior. Not to fight against others, but against the dysfunction, injustice, and insanity in the world,  ourselves, and others. How do we summon the courage to face and overcome uncertainty, intimidation, pain, and fear? Through our Inner Super Hero, which is another of the many aspects of our True Self.

The True Self is the ideal of all we could be, can be, and already are deep in our heart and soul. This part of us is brave, daring, and ferocious when times get tough. This is the warrior, hopefully a peaceful warrior, but one who can become fiercely courageous when evil and injustice threaten or attack us. Perhaps you have never thought of yourself in this way,but when the situation demands it this fighter is waiting for you within, and ready to do what is needed. 

History is filled with ordinary people who rose to the occasion to make a big difference in the world. Again M.L.K., Malala, Ghandi, and Mandela are good examples, but also Winston Churchill, Franklin D.Roosevelt, and Joan of Arc and many others. For more guidance on this adventure, and to find your own "Spiritual Warrior" Inner Super Hero click here. For the Twelve Step version, click here. For another viewpoint on the Warrior spirit and experience check out Warriors and Castles

                                                                                                                
We like to conclude each Sanity File with a musical or motivational experience so here are a few examples. I am a Warrior  Be a Revolution!  You Call Me to be Brave!  I Want to See You Be Brave!  Anthem for the Underdog  We Can Be Who We Are!  I'm Not a Survivor, I AM A WARRIOR!

P.S. I occasionally do a share at Twelve Step meetings and retreats were I first explain that we are not only allowed to have fun in our recovery, but are encouraged to. I then whip off my jacket to expose a Super Man shirt and cape hidden underneath. I then explain that I am not superman, but "Surrender Man", as acceptance and surrender are some of my super powers inherited from my Higher Power. This allows me to accept things as they are and then work from there to make significant change. 

People enjoyed this so much that one year the theme of a retreat became "A Twelve Step Guide to Becoming Your Own Super Hero". Each participant could receive a cape as part of the registration and workshops focused on various healing "super powers" we could develop as part of our recovery such as humility, integrity, and love. Now I also have a viking, knight, and king costumes I combine to make a "warrior king". These remind me of what is possible if I dig down deep-and it's fun! 😄




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