The Need to be Right

I have struggled with the need to be right for my entire life. Fortunately, over the years I have made great progress when it comes to letting things go, not asserting my position on everything and everybody, and ultimately opening my heart and mind to the concept that all ideas are partial. It has been a long road, and it is still something I am consciously working on; learning that there is a time and a place to assert or defend my position. My husband is probably laughing right now, reading that I have made “great progress,” but he really has no idea just how bad it used to be. I’m a work in progress!

Just prior to sitting down to write, I wasted over an hour of my precious time that could have been more productively spent. I read, and re-read an article that was posted in a Facebook group that I am a member of. I also read through hundreds of comments, 99% of which were strongly asserting the “wrong-ness” of, not only the ideas in the article, but also the author and her character were being called into question. The leader of this Facebook group was livid as a result of this article and claims the opinions presented in the piece are reductionist, uniformed, and dangerous. Most of the members of the group were hopping on the “condemn this dangerous, uneducated, quack of woman” train. While I could see their opinions and position, I thought the intensity of the condemnation was way off base and I got defensive—even though I do not know the author of the article, nor do I completely agree with her position.

Simply because I had a slightly different interpretation of this woman’s opinions, I felt it necessary to spend an hour constructing my argument to post in the group and defend a woman whom I don’t even know. Upon acknowledging this realization, I decided to ask: WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?!? WHY am I doing this? What are my intentions? Do I really have the time to put more energy and effort into asserting my position in a group where nobody will agree with what I have to say? Is this a productive use of my time? Why do I even feel the need to assert my position and tell them that I disagree with them to some extent? Why do I feel the need to defend the position of someone whom I don’t even know?!? Is this a battle I really need to engage with?

What I ultimately did here was to step back from my need to defend, my need to be right, and instead lean into inquiry.

Along with all of the questions just stated, part of this inquiry also included asking the question: Why do all of these women feel the need to condemn the author of the hotly contested article? I tried to lean into understanding their strong opinions. I wondered, can they know without a doubt that her position is uniformed and dangerous? Can I know without a doubt that her position is NOT uninformed and dangerous? Can all of us partially be right? Can all of us partially be wrong?

Ultimately, it brought me back to the statement that always provides me with perspective: all ideas are partial.

Perhaps there is some “right-ness” to be found in both perspectives. Once I acknowledged this, I didn’t feel the need to continue crafting a rebuttal. I decided to let it go. Byron Katie’s wise words came to mind. She says, “Defense is the first act of war…I didn’t realize that I was the one making war by defending myself. And I was the one who could end it. It doesn’t take two people to end war; it only takes one.” Now, I’m not asserting that you never defend yourself or your position, rather, that you step back and take a look at your intentions. Also, check in with yourself and ask how often you feel the need to do this, to be right, to defend?  Does it bring peace to your life or chaos? Is it connecting you with people, or is it creating division in your relationships?

Why do so many of us feel the need to be right?

An article in Psychology Today says that, “Our educational system is rooted in the construct of right or wrong.” Could it be that this is where our need to defend begins—in the school system? In our experiences growing up, we are often rewarded for being right and being wrong is considered undesirable. If we hold this belief that right is good and wrong is bad, does being right therefore affirm and inflate our sense of self-worth? Is trying to be right the way our ego tries to protect our self-esteem?

The Tao Te Ching states that “He who tries to shine dims his own light.” Is the need to be right tied to our desire to shine through asserting our opinions and defending why we are right? When you are trying to claim your value in this regard, to assert yourself (or your opinions) as better-than, you are not aligned with love, but rather, with ego. When you are ego identified you are blocking the light that is your true nature.

Through sustained inquiry, we can open our hearts and our minds, we can step out of ego and align ourselves with love—that which connects us to ourselves and to others.

Furthermore, we are a competitive society and we associate being wrong with failure and very few of us want to fail despite research that says failure is actually necessary for growth. We don’t learn anything from being right, we learn from being wrong. We learn by making mistakes, stumbling, failing, and getting back up.

Being right simply massages the ego—it doesn’t actually inspire a genuine learning experience. It doesn’t help us to come to understand another’s perspective.

Perhaps the need to be right is ultimately based in fear. Fear of losing credibility, fear of not being valued, fear of being seen as unintelligent, and fear of losing control. When we go on the defensive we are often trying to control how we are perceived. When our sense of self and our beliefs are threatened, we often lean into control. We try to control the situation by asserting our rightness, and we try to control others perceptions of us. Mainly, we want to feel that other people think we have something to offer, that we should be listened to, and that we are good. We also may try to find our power through our assertions of why we are right and the other is wrong.

The need to be right is sometimes a way we express our anger. As I said, there is a time and a place to assert and defend, but how we assert and defend is key. If we are not addressing our anger, we will often fly out onto the defensive and lose ourselves, which can undermine our credibility. There can also be anger attached to the other person or party who does not see that we are, in fact, probably right.

Could our anger also be tied to our need for approval and our fear of being wrong? What does that mean about us if we are wrong? Could all of this be tied to our survival instincts, our desire to belong, to love and be loved?

There is much to think about and unpack when it comes to inquiring into our need to be right.

However, it is important that we unpack this issue, because the need to be right is no small matter. While I see it mostly playing out in the small things in my day to day life, particularly in my marriage, at the end of the day, the small things make up the big things. If we are continually battling and defending in our relationships when it comes to minor details, how is this playing out on the macro level? The need to be right in religion, politics, and hot button issues such as abortion has led to nothing but division, hatred, war, and death.

If we can loosen our grip on the need to be right with the small things, we are opening our hearts and our minds to discussing and considering the big things from a more compassionate, open-minded, and peaceful positon—from a place rooted in love instead of fear. We must lean into inquiry. We must check in with our intentions.

Again, this is not to say that we don’t question others views when we believe they are morally wrong—when we believe their views are oppressing and infringing upon another. However, if we can question their views and see that they are probably coming from a place of fear, perhaps we can soften, we can release some of our anger and lean into compassion. When I find myself getting worked up about another’s “wrong-ness” I try to lean into inquiry and ask myself:

What would love look like in this situation?

Can I open my mind to their point of view and try to better understanding where they are coming from?

Can I see any validity in their point of view?

Even if I 100% believe that they are wrong, is it necessary at this moment to defend myself and my position? Or can I let it go?

What are the benefits of defending, and what are the benefits if I just let this go?

Would love look like allowing someone to be right and have their opinion even though I don’t agree?

Or would love look like hearing their side but standing firm in and stating my beliefs?

As I’ve stated twice already in this post, ALL IDEAS ARE PARTIAL. In a world where 97% of the universe is unknowable, how can we possibly walk through our day thinking we know so much? That we are right. That our husband or wife shouldn’t have done this or said that. That all these women up in arms about the article I was mentioning, should or shouldn’t be up in arms? How can I possibly know what is right in this situation? We often don’t realize how many times we state things as fact. In just the past two days of inquiring once again into my need to be right, I was relying on what I believed to be fact. Once I inquired, I realized, that all I had in these situations were opinions, they were not actually facts.

More Questions for Inquiry

Spend just one day noticing when you feel the need to be right. Is your defensiveness based in fact or in opinion? Can you be 100% sure that you are right? Can you in any way see that the other person may be right as well, or perhaps that neither of you right and that there are many other ways to look at the situation in question? Could it be true that both of you are right?

Can you use this situation as a way to lean into self-connection? Can you see that you are enough just as you are without defending yourself or your position, or asserting your need to be right?

Do you believe that you are valuable even if you are wrong? Instead of making assertions, can you ask the other person questions about their position to learn more about where they are coming from (even if you don’t agree)? As you step away from self-centeredness and consider the needs and perspectives of others, you develop intimacy and connection.

Can you practice allowing another to be right, even if you are still stuck in the idea that they are in fact, dead wrong? What would happen if you just allowed them to be right (or think they are right) in this situation? What feelings come up for you as you do this?

At the end of the day, I believe the ultimate question to ask ourselves when it comes to this form of inquiry is: What would love look like here?

Would love look like being open to another’s point of view, perspective, opinion, or position?

Would love look like allowing someone to be right just because, even if you don’t agree with them?

Can you let them be right for the sake of peace?

Or would love look like hearing their side but still standing firm in your belief?

I have asked many questions throughout this post, because this is an act of inquiry. Inquiring into our own positions, opinions, motivations, and intentions. When we step back and create some space, when we lean into non-judgmental inquiry, that is where we find peace, connection, and ultimately, freedom.

 

 

The Heroine’s Journey

Many of you have probably heard of Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero’s Journey. In a previous blog post I have written about it as a journey one takes as they embark on their quest to heal from addiction. It is a powerful and poignant journey where one sets out to slay the dragon, encountering allies and adversaries along the way, ultimately returning home victorious. In my studies of Depth Psychology, I have come across an equally powerful journey, that of The Heroine, which Maureen Murdock outlines in her book, The Heroine’s Journey. It is a journey for all women, not just for those in recovery.

If one is to heal from addiction and sustain a meaningful, enriched recovery, we must set out to heal the wounded masculine and the repressed feminine within ourselves and within our culture. We must find the balance of the Yin and the Yang. In this quest, we are called to the depths–we must connect with Soul and reclaim the lost parts of ourselves.

We live in a highly addicted society and most of us struggle with addiction in one form or another. Whether that be addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, materialism, technology, or other forms of compulsive behavior, we all struggle with something.

You might be asking yourself this question: Why are we so addicted in today’s modern day society?

In studying the work of Marion Woodman (and other academics in the field of Depth Psychology), I have come to believe that rampant addiction can be partially attributed to the severe imbalance in our patriarchal society of two important archetypes: that of the masculine and the feminine. Our culture deeply values qualities associated with masculine energy and for thousands of years the feminine has been repressed. But she is making her way back with a vengeance–she is making her presence known through addiction and other psychological and bodily ailments. She is forcing us to take a closer look at our lives. She is calling us towards an exploration of the depths and in doing so, we reconnect with our lost souls. Without her, we suffer.

To feel whole, healthy and integrated we must seek balance between these two archetypal energies if we are to birth our authentic selves into this world.

Ultimately, the mythic pattern of The Heroine’s Journey is the quest one embarks on to heal this deep wounding of our feminine nature on a personal, cultural, and spiritual level. 6,000 years of patriarchy has left the feminine deeply wounded, and these wounds run deep in our unconscious—it will take much work to heal this imbalance.

The Heroine’s Journey is cyclical, and we may go through it many times in our life, and also we may work on one or more stages at a time. It is a journey that connects us back to our body and back to our soul. It begins with The Separation from the Feminine.

The Separation from the Feminine and Identification with the Masculine

For the past five to six thousand years, matristic religions have been suppressed and devalued. Prior to patriarchy, cooperation societies existed where hierarchy and power were non-existent. Today’s patriarchy goes beyond gender, rather, it is based in power. We seek power over everything—our lives, our bodies, our addictions, our Mother Earth. It is this power principle that is destroying us individually and collectively, and has left us addicted to perfection, a title of one of Marion Woodman’s amazing books.

In a patriarchal society a woman splits from her feminine nature in order to be acceptable and accepted. Many of us have mother wounds and blame or reject aspects of our mothers, aligning ourselves more with the masculine because that is what our culture values.

The problem is, when we reject the feminine we are concurrently rejecting our bodies, as our body is matter, it is nature, both are considered feminine. In this unconscious identification with the masculine we reject our body in its natural form, and in doing so we seek “mother” through addiction, or through trying to manipulate and control our bodies.

Not only are we seeking to control our bodies, but we try to control our lives as well. We seek power and authority. We align with achievement, production, and success. We fine tune our skills through our educational system based in patriarchy that promotes linear thinking, analyzing, and goal-setting to name a few.

Now, I’m not knocking achievement, production, and success. I’m simply asserting that there is a massive imbalance—we overvalue the masculine and undervalue the feminine. We will not find balance until we step off the hamster wheel, stop defining our lives around what we do, and instead take the time to just BE. To align with feminine and slow down into her natural rhythm and cycles.

The Road of Trials and the Gathering of Allies

Murdock teaches that as we mature, we leave home and go in search of ourselves. We try to find our power, often armoring ourselves in the process by disconnecting from our feelings and our feminine soul.

The adversaries we face in our society are great, especially for women. We face the myth of “playing it safe,” believing that if we just make the “right” choices or the “safe” choices, that we will be happy and all will be well.

We encounter the myth of “dependency” and “romantic love” with affirmations through our culture that purport that we must have a man to depend on, to feel whole. Equally destructive is the thought that we need no one. That we can be Ms. Independent and do it all ourselves.

There is the myth of “female inferiority.” Our society has repressed feminine power for thousands of years and though the age of feminism has led to massive gains for women in terms of equality, we still are not valued as equals in today’s society. We make less money than men, there is no support for family leave, childcare is ridiculously expensive, the bulk of the housework falls in women’s hands. As a result, we also face the myth of “never being enough.” We often feel that we have to do more, be more, be better than who we are to be valued and accepted. When the unconscious masculine takes over, we can feel that no matter what we do, it simply is never enough.

I think the greatest myth we face that feminism has promoted is the myth that “you can have it all.” In the way our society is structured, this simply is not true for most women. As women we have to work twice as hard as men to “have it all.” We continually feel that we have to prove our value in this masculine world, instead of believing in our intrinsic worth.

All of these adversaries can drive us into addiction. We need to unpack these cultural unconscious beliefs. We need to embrace the fact that we are not all things, and still, WE ARE ENOUGH. It is in this acknowledgment that we become real, vulnerable, and open to transformation.

Finding the Boon of Success

Many of us women do find success, as our culture defines success, anyways. We seem to have it all—the career, the husband, the family, and yet, we still face criticism as women. Those who are too successful are chastised for the family sacrifices they have to make as a result. Conversely, if we choose family over career, we are criticized for “just being a housewife.” Basically, we can’t win.

In this quest for success, we neglect ourselves, we neglect our souls, our dream life, and our creative life in the process. We find the success we think we want, believe that we will feel whole and complete, and yet we are so often left feeling as though something is still lacking, we suffer, and we wonder why.

It’s because we’ve neglected the feminine in this process. We turn to our addictions as a way to numb the pain of the “go, go, go” life. We stay busy and productive to keep the feelings of emptiness at bay, to avoid the grief we feel when we’ve left behind important aspects of self in this quest for success.

Awakening to Feelings of Spiritual Aridity: Death

I believe this is the point where our addiction peaks. We’ve reached our bottom, we know something has got to change. Woodman says, “From a Jungian perspective, the psyche naturally moves toward wholeness. If we become stuck in a way of life that is not right for us, or a psychological attitude we’ve outgrown, then symptoms appear that force us out of our nest, if we’re willing to deal with them. If we choose not to, then we become obsessed with something that concretizes a genuine spiritual need.” This concretizing often manifests in addiction. We try to meet our spiritual needs by turning to alcohol, drugs, food, shopping—anything to help fill the gaping hole.

Murdock says that this is the place where we feel as though we’ve lost our inner fire. We question the meaning of it all. She says, “A woman loses her ‘inner fire’ when she is not being fed, when the soul’s flame is no longer fueled, when the promise of the dream held for so long dies. Old patterns no longer fit, the new way is not yet clear; there is darkness everywhere, and she cannot see or feel or taste or touch. Nothing means very much anymore, and she no longer knows who she really is.”

In order to heal from our addiction, we must recognize that our substance of choice is not going to fill the hole, rather, it only makes the void larger. Instead, we must go to the depths and connect with our lost souls. We must turn to the Gods and Goddesses for meaning and direction, one of the core principles of AA, turning it over to a higher power.

Initiation and Descent to the Goddess

This is where true healing begins. When we engage in the descent in search of our true selves, and allow ourselves to be dismembered, trusting that we will gain invaluable wisdom in the process and be born anew.

We must connect back to the lost aspects of self: our bodies, emotions, intuition, images, values, and sexuality. We must reclaim our virgin selves—virgin, meaning, our true essence. As in, the virgin forest. Murdock says, “We have to reclaim the parts of ourselves that were ours before we cloaked ourselves in the vestments of culture.”

We must reclaim our Wild Woman, which Clarissa Pinkola Estés speaks of in her book Women Who Run with Wolves. We must get back in touch with our instinctual nature, owning, respecting, and loving all aspects of ourselves. Owning our shadows, our dirty, messy, wild selves, and find beauty in them, knowing that it is this which makes us whole. It makes us perfectly imperfect, as we should be.

During this descent we get back in touch with our bodies and our innate wisdom. We have to honor the feminine cycle—death, decay, gestation, and rebirth. Trusting that the death and decay of the old self will lead to rebirth, but only if we allow the necessary time and space for proper gestation.

This needs to be a mindful initiation so that we don’t lose ourselves as we explore the depths of our soul. It is here that we find our own validation, and we stop looking to the outside.

Urgent Yearning to Reconnect with the Feminine

Murdock says, “When a woman has made the descent and severed her identity as a spiritual daughter of the patriarchy, there is an urgent yearning to reconnect with the feminine, whether that be the Goddess, the Mother, or her little girl within. There is a desire to develop those parts of herself that have gone underground while on the heroic quest: her body, her emotions, her spirit, her creative wisdom.”

When we started worshiping the father gods, started worshiping in churches instead of on the land, we disregarded the sanctity of nature, and with that, the sanctity of the body. It is at this point in the journey where we deeply reconnect with our body and its wisdom. We reconnect to the sacredness in matter. Women know with their bodies.

Jean Shinoda Bolen says, “When we know something in our bodies as well as with our mind and hearts, then we know something deeply about ourselves, and it is this dimension that has been out of balance in our Christian civilization and our Christian-influenced psychology. It has been so much a father psychology as well as a father theology, where mind, interpretations, and the word are the transformative experience and that’s not true [for women].”

We need to feel the deep sadness of having been separated from the feminine and grieve and release the loss. We need to release the masculine need to control and instead allow things to happen in the natural cycle of things. We need to find out about BEING instead of DOING—this is the sacred task of the feminine.

Murdock expresses that, “Being requires accepting oneself, staying within oneself and not doing to prove oneself. It is a discipline that is accorded no applause from the outside world.”

This heroic quest is about bringing the masculine and feminine into balance. Conscious, mindful BEING and DOING, but doing only as the result of the wisdom gained from being. This means stepping off of the busy train and creating space in your life for things that feed your soul.

During this stage we often yearn to be mentored by older women. We crave ritual. We crave connection with other women and with nature. This is a time to deeply tune into your dreams, intuition, and creativity. Creativity for the sake of creativity, not for outcome. Creativity to express and connect with the soul, the lost aspects of self. We learn to act on our truth, we are attentive and responsible to the present moment, we focus on cooperation instead of competition, we ALLOW, we trust birth will happen in its own time.

Marion Woodman points out that, “The feminine way is the healing way. Rather than polarizing, the feminine accepts the paradox: this is beautiful, that is the opposite, but it too is beautiful.” It is at this stage that we accept ourselves in our totality—the good, the bad, the ugly—it is all beautiful and it is all part of this path we walk in this thing called life.

Healing the Mother-Daughter Split

Murdock teaches that this wound goes beyond a woman’s relationship with her personal mother, rather, it speaks to the heart of the imbalance in values within our culture. We long for a strong, powerful female parent.

We’ve been taught that life is hard, life is not fair, there is no ease and you have to work your ass off all the freaking time. With these unconscious beliefs we fear the mother, because the mother doesn’t control, she allows, and we want to control. It’s what we know. It’s what we’ve been taught. It’s ingrained in us through years of public schooling and cultural indoctrination.

In healing the split from the feminine, we need to be able to ask for help (something many of us addicts struggle with), and we need to drop into the feminine spirit of cooperation as a way to take back our power. We need to become our own nurturing mother. We need to connect with our feminine souls. Woodman says, “The feminine soul is what grounds us; it loves and accepts us in our totality. Our challenge is to embody this.”

There are many ways to begin to heal this split. Begin to honor your creativity and find out what your true values are, and live them. Honor your body, your sexuality, your emotions. Honor your innate wisdom and the wisdom of the earth—get your hands dirty! Research the sacred feminine and/or join a women’s group. Participate in the nurturing of your community. Study the Tao. Sign up for a program that supports the mind and body. One such program is Yoga Church Teacher Training, founded by Meadow DeVor, that delves into practices that integrate mind, body, heart and soul.

Practice surrender. Woodman says, “If you’re an addict, you have got to come to terms with the feminine principle. You’ve got to feel that slow rhythm—the rhythm of the earth is slow—you have to feel that slowing down, you have to quiet the soul, and you have to surrender, because eventually you have to face the fact that you are not God and you cannot control your life.”

This is the first step to healing from addiction: SURRENDER. Surrender is deeply aligned with the feminine, it is the first step back to healing the imbalance we are facing individually and collectively.

Healing the Wounded Masculine and Integration of the Masculine and Feminine

We begin to heal the wounded masculine by first honoring and bringing forth the repressed feminine. We need the masculine—it is the masculine energy that brings forth the wisdom and creativity of the feminine.

Murdock says, “The masculine is an archetypal force; it is not a gender. Like the feminine, it is a creative force that lives within all women and men. When it becomes imbalanced and unrelated to life it becomes combative, critical, and destructive. This unrelated archetypal masculine can be cold and inhuman; it does not take into account our human limitations. Its machismo tells us to forge ahead no matter what the cost. It demands perfection, control, and domination; nothing is ever enough.”

Along with the feminine, it is the masculine in balance that supports us in recovery. How many of us in recovery are overly critical of ourselves? How many of us are hanging on by a thread seeking to control our addiction or control our recovery? How many of us are harboring shame as a result of our addiction, fearing that our lack of ‘perfection’ has left us deeply flawed, and unlovable? These are all elements of the unrelated masculine at work.

We need the masculine in balance. It allows us to be disciplined, steady, and committed. It gives us endurance, helps us to set limits, and protects us. In fact, it may be the very thing that gave us the wherewithal to find ourselves on the path of recovery. But it alone cannot sustain. It needs its partner, the feminine, just as the day needs the night.

June Singer teaches us that the goal of the masculine principle is perfection, the goal of the feminine is completion. If you are perfect, you can’t be complete. If you are complete, you can’t be perfect. It is through the integration of the masculine and feminine that we find ourselves whole. We accept our imperfections and our limitations. Murdock says that through this integration, “A woman gives birth to herself as a divine androgynous being, autonomous, and in a state of perfection in the unity of the opposites. She is whole.”

As we move beyond dualistic thinking, as we begin to equally honor the wisdom and importance of our body, soul, heart and mind we heal the split within ourselves and through that personal healing, we begin to heal our collective wounds.

I’ve barely scratched the surface on what this journey entails. It is deep, soulful work, and I hope this introduction has peaked your interest in exploring this concept further.

Check out Maureen Murdock’s book, The Heroine’s Journey. Her book asserts that this is the journey the modern woman is in need of and does not speak directly to addiction. Marion Woodman’s, Addiction to Perfection is also a great, albeit at time tedious read. She delves into addiction in depth and how it relates to the imbalance in the masculine and feminine. Also, The Ravaged Bridegroom, by Marion Woodman explore masculinity in women. Clarissa Pinkola Estés has an amazing book that is a must read titled, Women Who Run with Wolves.

If you are interested in exploring this further, in reconnecting to your essence, your feminine wisdom, and in integrating your lost aspects of self, send me an email at shelby@shelbymessenger.com. I’d love to work with you and support you on your path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World Needs Your Creativity

“Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody ‘a creative person’ is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it.”

–Liz Gilbert

Creativity has been on my mind for quite some time. When I think back to my childhood and when I look at my own children, I see how innately creative children are.  All day long they are engaged in fantasy and imagination and are continually exploring their world with fascination, and through this, bringing creation forth.

Every day I receive the fruits of my five-year-olds creative labors in the form of gifts, pictures, structures, dances, and song to bear witness to.

At what point do we lose our connection to our God-given innate ability to create for curiosity’s sake, for the sake of fun, and simply for no reason other than we just want to and we don’t know why?

Creation and creativity are our birthright.  Whether we realize it or not, all day long we are engaged in creation.  We wake up in the morning and decide what to wear, an act of creative expression.

We prepare meals for ourselves and for our families, bringing together different ingredients in a creative act. We engage in our daily activities and our work, which is also a creative process, albeit often times not one we think of as creative, and rarely is the type of creativity that we are longing to bring forth.

I was recently listening to Carolyn Myss on audio while I was making the long drive from Santa Barbara, back to Humboldt, my home base. She was describing how creativity manifests through the chakras, beginning with divine inspiration and insight, which is received through the upper chakras, the chakras that are calibrated to the non-physical and our internal power.  The inspiration passes through the fifth chakra, located at the throat, where we speak the idea either to ourselves or someone else.

It continues its passage down to our heart chakra where we get a felt sense of what it would feel like to bring this inspiration into fruition.  It is then that things begin to get clouded up in the lower chakras, which are the chakras that engage us with our physical or external power; these are the chakras where we bring things forth into this world.

This is where our creativity gets blocked, gets stopped in its tracks, and is unable to grow roots into its physical form.

In order to engage in our creative expression, we must work through the blocks in our second and third chakras to bring forth that which wants to be brought forth.

What have you been divinely inspired to do? Is your soul longing to paint or draw? Do you feel the call to write? To create a blog or write a book? Are business ideas swirling around in your head but unable to take root? The creative inspiration that calls to us is limitless in its possibilities.

How do you know a creative idea is divinely inspired? You will know because it will be tugging at your heart strings, it will not let you go unless you fight it for so long that it decides to move on to somebody else who is ready to bring this inspiration into the world; although it will never be the same, because only you can uniquely bring forth that which you have been called to do.

The idea often may seem extremely absurd. And crazy. But it won’t leave you be and you must act because transformation will be the result.  Expansion will be the result.  And if we are not expanding and growing, we are not fully living.

Our minds regularly get in the way.  The energetic imbalances in our body’s subtle energy system get in the way.  These imbalances are the result of our life experiences such as being children who were taught in school that failure is wrong and bad. Being taught by our society that we must be productive and focused on outcome, instead of engaging the world with a spirit of curiosity and inquiry. Perhaps we experienced compare and despair at a young age or were told our creations were not up to par.  All of these experiences can hold us back.

Creativity allows us to play.  It is our birthright to play and to explore, just for the sake of playing and exploring.  Sometimes this will bring forth some great work of creation that transforms many, sometimes the act is just meant to be transformational for yourself.  The thing is, you cannot know. And you must trust. Creativity is bigger than you, and while it is expressed through you, once it is in the world, it is out of your hands.

Liz Gilbert says, “The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody:  courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, and trust…” If you are held back in any of these areas, you will never see the fruit of the creativity that is longing to be born through you.

You MUST work through your creative blocks.

“If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you don’t bring forth what is within you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.” The Gospel of Thomas

As your creativity passes through your seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth chakras, it makes its way to the third, located at the solar plexus.  This is our core.  Our site of personal empowerment, where our ego and self-esteem reside.  Where we engage our self-discipline and confidence.  This is also where our spontaneity and sense of playfulness emerge.  If you’ve got a creative idea, but feel unable to bring it forth, explore the questions below, focusing your attention to your core as you ponder the following.

If I fail at this creative endeavor, will I feel shame? If yes, explore why.

How is my self-esteem? Can I handle any criticism I may receive?

Am I lacking confidence?

Will this be an act that will be transformational? Can I handle this transformation?

Do I have the self-discipline to manifest this creation?

Do I have the personal power to meet the challenges that I will face?

Am I indecisive?

Will my ego get in the way when it comes to outcome? Am I attached to outcome?

Can I create for the sake of playfulness alone? If not, why?

After you’ve worked through those questions, draw your attention down to the second chakra. This is located in our lower abdomen and has often been associated with creativity because this is physically the site of all creation.

It includes the reproductive organs and is literally where we give birth. Our emotional identity, our desires, and our right to feel and have pleasure all live within this chakra.

Guilt also lives here, and guilt can be a huge roadblock to creativity because we often see creativity as a waste of time when we are engaged in our busy lives with the endless responsibilities we have taken on.  Bringing your awareness to your lower abdomen, explore the following questions.

Will this creative act take time away from my responsibilities? Is this a problem?

Will I feel guilty for taking the time and resources needed to explore this inspiration?

Is there a financial risk involved in this pursuit? Am I willing to take that risk, why or why not?

Will this change my life physically or emotionally? Can I handle those changes?

Am I deserving of this?

Do I have proper boundaries in my life to create space to nurture this into being?

Am I allowed to engage in this act just for pleasure’s sake or for the sake of curiosity? Am I attached to an outcome?

Is there some outside power or authority which is keeping me from this?

Am I too depleted to have the endurance to create?

Am I addicted to control?

Am I in a scarcity mindset, believing that this has already been done, so why engage?

After you have explored all of these questions, you will have more information to know why and where you are blocked.  To know what beliefs are keeping you from bringing your inspiration into reality.

Once you have processed your blocks, only then can your creative idea pass through the first chakra, the root chakra, and take root into the world.  To plant the seedling and nurture it into the strong and majestic full grown tree that it was meant to be.  To be transformed by the experience of engaging in this act.

It will always involve risk and will involve leaving your comfort zone. Alan Alda says, “The creative place is the place where no one has ever been.  You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you will discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”

We find ourselves through the creative process.  We learn about ourselves and we learn about the world.

It is a transformational act, even if it is only you who has been transformed in the process.  But you can’t know who or what will be transformed, you simply have to trust. You have to engage.  You are creative, you are creation. As Martha Graham says, you must remember, “There is only one of you in all time, the expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” Only you can bring forth that which is within you.

Take the first step today, and explore what it is that is holding you back. The world needs your creative expression. Without creation, we have nothing.

The Hero’s Journey: The Journey YOU Were Born to Take

The journey of the hero…we see it in movies, read about it, and dream about it, yet few of us realize that this is the path that we too are destined to walk. It is the path we must walk. To feel fulfilled in this crazy life, you must be the hero in your own story. Now, I can already hear what some of you are already thinking.

“Yeah, right, I’m no hero.”

“Come on, that’s not for me.”

“I am just an ordinary person in this ordinary world with ordinary struggles.”

But let me tell you this: You are powerful. You were born to embark on the hero’s journey—and not just once, but multiple times throughout your life. Because the hero’s journey is ultimately the journey back to the center of self, something if we ever found it in the first place, have to keep journeying back to over and over again.

You see, the universe requires growth. If you look all around you in nature life is growing, changing, dying, being reborn.  We must do the same, for we a part of nature.

I have been a fan of Joseph Campbell for years, and he talks about the monomyth, the ultimate narrative archetype, which is known as The Hero’s Journey.  You can see examples of The Hero’s Journey in all sorts of mythic adventures: Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, even Simba in The Lion King.

This is such a prevalent storyline because it is a story that lies in our collective unconscious.  It lies there because it is the journey of man since the beginning of time.

When I talk to my readers, clients, and friends I notice that so many of us are about to embark on a new journey, are in the midst of one, or have just completed our adventure, and are awaiting the next call.

I see people getting married, getting divorced, trying to salvage a troubled relationship, trying to have a baby, quitting drinking, desiring weight loss and a change in habits, wanting to begin or change a career, wishing to start a blog or start writing, wanting to redefine themselves in some way—all of this *is* the hero’s journey.

Why look at the hero’s journey? Because knowing which stage you are in on the path can help to illuminate the next steps. If you can see your path as the journey of the hero, it will help you to find the strength and endurance to accept the call to adventure, conquer the trials and tribulations that are sure to come your way, and become the hero of your own story.

It’s not easy, but it will be worth it—this I can promise you.

In The Hero with an African Face, Clyde Ford says, “Ultimately, the hero’s quest is not along an isolated path but on one traveled by all of humanity: not a victory over outside forces, but over those within; not a journey to far-off worlds but to the very center of one’s self.”

A journey you are destined to take.

I am embarking on a new adventure, a new journey when it comes to my career.  However, I have just wrapped up a fifteen-year long journey—the journey to sobriety from alcohol.

That’s not to say the journey is entirely over.  There will continue to be trials and tribulations, but I have already experienced the entirety of the journey, have weathered the storm and know that I can stay in the “reward zone” if I continue to acknowledge my WHY.  Why I went on this journey in the first place.

Let’s take a look at The Hero’s Journey.  Your journey and my journey…

The Ordinary World

This is where the journey begins.  Hero’s start out like everyone else—living their ordinary life in the ordinary world, often unaware of his or her potential. For me the ordinary world looked like this: everyone drinks alcohol, so why shouldn’t I?  This is what people do—they do it to celebrate, they drink when there is sorrow, they drink to foster connection, and they drink to ease boredom.

This was my perception, anyways.  And I wanted to be no different.  I wanted this ordinary life—to experience the suffering, sorrow, and tragedy in life, along with the happiness and joy with the help of my numbing companion, who helped me to limp on through, making life more tolerable, or so I thought.

The Call to Adventure

When you are being asked to leave your ordinary world, you will hear a call.  Often it is faint at first.  A small little whispering from your soul telling you to “go this way.” It is often so faint that we dismiss it, write it off as just a crazy idea.

If we don’t listen, the call will get louder and louder and LOUDER.  It will not only be a cry from your soul, but outside forces will begin to conspire to move you in the direction or your calling.

I heard the faint call in my early 20’s.  My soul was whispering “You are keeping yourself in a cage.” And, “There is something better out there for you, and drinking is going to keep you from it.” But I wasn’t ready.

Refusal of the Quest

Refusal of the quest is a natural and necessary part of the journey.  Deep down we know that our former self will have to die so that a new self can be born—and this is fucking scary as hell.  Our comfort zone (even if it is miserable) is called the comfort zone for a reason–it is comfortable because it is known, it is predictable, it is our identity.

Fear, lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence in one’s abilities, or the abandonment of hope and faith can keep you stuck at the threshold of the call—it can be difficult admitting that change is a must “yet passing such thresholds and facing such challenges and discoveries are the essence of the inner hero’s journey” (Clyde Ford, The Hero with an African Face).

Some of us are crawling around as caterpillars, thinking it impossible to transform into beautiful butterflies.  But if you look around you…there are butterflies everywhere.  All of life walks this path.  If it is possible for them, it is possible for you.

I refused the call to sobriety for over ten years.  I did everything I could not to hear it.  I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone, even though in many respects alcohol made me miserable.  Early on, I didn’t want to do the work to change, and better yet, I didn’t think the change would be worth it.

I tried to regulate my drinking and told many people I would always regulate (yeah, right) because I NEVER wanted to quit…I was clinging and grasping to this part of myself BIG TIME. But the call kept getting louder.  It was no longer a faint whisper in my soul, it became desperation.

The call came in the form of domestic violence, almost two divorces, and infidelity to name a few. How bad was I going to let my life get before I accepted the call? Obviously, desperation is not enough to propel you forward. You have to also WANT to take the tumultuous journey to the new self.

The call also now came to be found in the form of outside voices…my husband, my parents, both telling me “this is a problem for you.” And you know what? That made me really fucking angry…because I knew they were right. (Ouch! This is still painful to admit!)

Accepting the Call

When you are truly ready and willing, you will accept the call. And not a minute before then. Clyde Ford says, “The hero’s journey is not for the faint-hearted wanderer, curious but not serious about where the journey leads, nor is it a journey to be taken in the throes of anger, but one to be relished in the spirit of high adventure.”

Had I accepted the call when I was angry when outside forces began to conspire and become a part of the call, I would have failed miserably because I would have initiated the journey from the place of anger.

The call must be accepted from a grounded, centered, and strong place.  That place in your heart that knows now is the time.  You must have faith that you can handle all of the trials and tribulations that are bound to come your way.  You must know that you can handle the death of your former self.  You are ready to be re-born. Joseph Campbell says, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure?”

You must look at this as an adventure, one you are willing to take, not one you are reluctant to embark on. You must be committed.

I said “yes” many times over the past few years.  Dabbling in sobriety, stringing together days and months.  But I wasn’t committed to the adventure, to the journey.

I wasn’t ready to weather the trials and tribulations, and ultimately I found myself back at “Refusal of the Quest.” If you step back to refusal, that doesn’t mean the call will let go of you.  You just step back to that point in your journey, and the call will continue as it did, getting louder in the form of suffering, sorrow, danger and possibly disaster, urging you forward, until you are ready to accept the call whole-heartedly, never looking back.

I got to that point.  Where it was desperation combined with a serious WANT.  Desperation alone is not strong enough to sustain you; you have to have the want, the will to be reborn into your new self.

I asked myself what will it take to accept this call? I had tried everything I knew, up until that point.  I had partaken in a million self-development workshops and courses, received numerous certifications, tried out different healing modalities, read all about others experiences in sobriety, participated in Hip Sobriety School.

I knew that I was not on an isolated path, but on one traveled by all of humanity, in some form or another.  If they could do it, I could do it too.  If life had become more fulfilling for them, I had to trust that life would be better for me as well and that all of the tests, trials and tribulations would be worth it.

I knew deep in my heart that AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) was not for me, which would have been the next logical step.  Instead, I chose to go to a rehab, a place that offered multiple healing modalities and didn’t push AA down your throat.

I went with the conviction that this is it. I am ready to be reborn.

Tests, Trials, and Tribulations

In this stage of the journey, the universe will test your commitment.  It will throw all kinds of trials and tribulations your way.  If the journey was easy, you wouldn’t draw strength, courage and fortitude from it.  It would not have the transformational effect of you feeling your personal power, your ability and willingness to persevere and transcend.

If it was easy, it wouldn’t be the journey of the hero.

This is why you must have a powerful WHY.  Why are you going on this journey? Why do you want it? The universe guarantees that it will test your commitment. If you don’t have a powerful why you will find yourself back at Refusal of the Quest.

This has to be about YOU. You have to want this for yourself, you have to be curious about what the next life holds for you, you have to have the curious spirit of a warrior to make it through the trials and tribulations of your journey.

Choosing to go to rehab was a trial in and of itself.  How can I be gone from my family for 30 days? How can I tell those around me what I am doing? Can I withstand the shame of openly sharing my struggle with addiction? Can my free-spirited, authority-hating, rule-breaking self handle the strict structure of rehab? Can that part of me who thinks I know everything (haha!) surrender to not knowing, to not having the answers, to taking a beginner’s mindset into this experience?

Then came the trials and tribulations of choosing the path of sobriety prior to the start of summer—one of the biggest drinking times of the year.  With parties, camping trips, vacations, kids at home…can I weather all of this without being miserable?

Looking back, I can now see that I chose the perfect time, or better yet, the perfect time chose me.  If I could weather the trials of summer and make it through, then I could handle anything sober.

Allies and Helpers

You will begin to see the magic of the universe as you endure your tests and trials, in the form of people, things, and places that will support your journey.

As previously stated, you are not meant to walk this path alone.  Others are walking beside you on the same path, others have gone before you, others are simply there to support you on your courageous journey.

Remember, life is happening FOR you, not to you.

Joseph Campbell says, “We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we only have to follow the thread of the hero-path.”

I have found allies and helpers EVERYWHERE.  They are there, especially if you keep an eye out for them, knowing that they WILL be there, you will begin see them all around you.

Reward

You’ve made it…and the reward is yours for the taking. When you being the journey, you can’t possibly know what the reward will look or feel like. You will have an idea, but ultimately you have to surrender to the journey and have faith.

To trust that the new self that will be born will be the transformation of the caterpillar into the beautiful butterfly.  The butterfly who has wings to soar to new heights, to taste freedom that wasn’t possible with the old self.

I have found freedom.  I am no longer a slave to a substance that destroyed my body, mind, heart, and soul, simply because I said “yes.”  I now have happiness I didn’t think was possible for me.

That’s not to say that life isn’t still full of trials, tribulations, sorrow, and tragedy.  But having walked the path of the hero, I now have more tools to draw from, more internal fortitude and strength to know that I can weather the journeys ahead.  I now look forward to the next journey, instead of resisting or fearing it.

Drawing from the internal well of resources you developed as you walked the path, maybe the next call doesn’t take ten years until it is accepted.  Maybe next time you can jump right in because you know what lies ahead in the path.

You know that you can do it.

You know that you are a hero. The hero of your own story.

The Road Back Home

Having been reborn, you return home, anew.  You must share your hero’s journey because now you have the light to illuminate the path for others who are right behind you in their journey.

You are now the hero that they look to.  Having done it, you show others that it is possible.

We must light the way for others out of respect for those who lit the way for us.

We are meant to grow so that we have more to give.  The journey is not complete until you travel back home as your new self, to share your journey. It doesn’t matter if you share with one person or 1,000 people, but you must share to see the journey to completion.

Where are you at in the hero’s journey? I would love to hear your story.  I would be honored to be any ally and helper in your path in the form of a witness, or in whatever form of help you may need.  Remember, you are not meant to walk this path alone.  Keep an eye out for your allies and helpers, reach out to them, use them. There is no I without we, and no we without I. We need each other.

Cliff Note’s Version of The Hero’s Journey:

The Ordinary World

  • Your comfort zone

Call to Adventure

  • You hear a faint voice telling you “go this way.”
  • The call won’t leave you alone, it will get louder until you accept the call

Refusal of the Call

  • A necessary step in the journey
  • We must refuse to know that it is truly a calling and not just a crazy idea
  • We refuse because it is scary, knowing that a death will occur—the death of the old self, the death of an aspect of our identity

Accepting the Call

  • We say “yes”
  • We say “yes” in the spirit of adventure, from a strong, centered, grounded place
  • Desperation will not sustain you, you must have a strong WANT for a new self, a new identity
  • We must have a powerful WHY

Tests, Trials, and Tribulations

  • The universe will test your commitment
  • We must be tested in order to gain strength, fortitude, and harness our internal power—elements that are critical to success in the many journeys we will take
  • Remember your powerful WHY during this time to keep you going
  • Remember that it will all be worth it and the reward is waiting for you at the end

Allies and Helpers

  • You are not meant to walk this path alone, this is the journey of all of humanity
  • Remember that life is happening FOR you, not to you—the helpers are there FOR YOU

Reward

  • All of your hard work does not come without benefits
  • There is light at the end of the tunnel, you must trust and have faith

The Road Back Home

  • Your new self, your new identity must be shared
  • We must be an ally and helper to others, we must light the way or the journey has not been completed