Addicted to Distraction: How our Smartphones Add Value or Limit our Lives

I am The Queen of Distraction! There. I said it. It’s not a self-proclaimed title that I am particularly fond of, but it is the truth, and for me the truth always feels liberating. In this moment, I accept my current reality (some days are easier than others when it comes to acceptance!) and as Carl Rogers says, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

What I am working to change is the fact that I continually distract myself from anything and everything: my work, time spent with my family, I distract myself from uncomfortable feelings, I even distract myself from distracting myself. HA! Basically, the list goes on and on. I’m being a little dramatic here, but you get my point.

In looking back, I can see that drinking played a vital role in my need to distract. It was a tool I regularly used to avoid the present moment, because the present moment was never enough. I was unable to sit with my feelings of discomfort. If I was bored, I would drink. If I was angry, I would drink. If I was sad, I would drink. If I wanted to have more fun, I would drink. It was a tool that enabled me to move away from whatever it was I didn’t want to feel.

Now that I’ve left drinking behind I can see that I am still doing this in sneakier, more insidious ways—mainly with technology.

I have recently been reevaluating my relationship with my precious little beloved iPhone. How many of you feel as though you are missing a limb when you leave home and realize that you accidentally forgot your phone? I know I certainly do! I also know there are probably many of you out there who feel me on this because I seeeee you on your phones all the time. Now, granted, that is just my judgmental-self sneaking in and being all judge-y, because really, I can’t know if your phone is a problem for you. Only you can know that. It may not be a problem for you at all. It may be a great distraction that is protecting you from something you just aren’t ready to deal with, and that’s totally okay. YOU get to decide what works for you and what doesn’t, regardless of what others think.

However, if you are anything like me, you might not even realize that it is a problem or that it is creating suffering in your life until you look closely at your relationship with it.

When I got real with myself and acknowledged that I actually crave my phone, I knew I had to go beyond the surface and dig a little deeper, to inquire into this experience of craving. Instead of reaching for my phone on autopilot, I decided to slow it and look at my intentions. I began to look at what reward I was seeking from checking my phone incessantly throughout the day.

I asked myself questions such as: why do I use my phone so much? Why do I feel the need to check Facebook, Instagram, and email so often? What am I hoping to get from my actions? What reward am I seeking? Is this behavior affecting other areas of my life? What emotion am I attempting to avoid feeling?

Your answers might be different than mine, but the only way to know what your answers are is to inquire deeply into your own usage of technology in this digital age. If you want to know why you do anything, get curious. Investigate your thoughts, your behavior, your experience.

When I look closely at my own usage I can see that I am trying to distract myself from boredom. It’s an old friend, or I guess it’s more like an enemy I should say, when I consider the fact that I am constantly running away from it. HA! For me, boredom ultimately comes down to the belief that the present moment is never enough. My mind likes to tell me that the present moment can always be better and that there is always something I can be doing to enhance my experience. I am a glutton.

More, more, more is the name of my game and through deep inquiry I can clearly see how much suffering this creates in my life. Albeit, it is suffering on a small scale, but suffering is suffering, nonetheless. In The Pali Canon Buddha says, “The Noble Truth of the Origin [cause] of Suffering is this: It is this craving.” If you find yourself craving something throughout the day, notice if this causes you to suffer in any way. When you avoid giving into the craving what emotion arises? How does that emotion feel—pleasurable or painful? When you act on the craving how does that feel? For how long is the craving satisfied? Take a close look.

What I have come to know and understand is that I can unwind the neural pathways that cause me to be chronically distracted, through deliberate practice that is geared towards increasing my focus on the task at hand—even if that just involves being focused on the present while enjoying a day at the beach! Shouldn’t be that hard, right? Well, the thing is, for many of us it is hard.

I recently read Deep Work by Cal Newport who believes, as I do, that it’s important to notice how you are distracting yourself in the little ways, because that feeds into other areas of your life—which is exactly what I have found. He asserts that “Once your brain has become accustomed to on-demand distraction…it’s hard to shake the addiction even when you want to concentrate.” In other words, if I distract myself every time I feel a sense of boredom, I am training my brain to live in a chronically distracted state which is not only painful, but also keeps me from being able to engage with life on a deep, meaningful level.

Author Winifred Gallagher says, “the skillful management of attention is the sine qua non of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience.” A meaningful life is a life of depth, one where we are not constantly distracting ourselves while hanging with our friends or waiting in the grocery line. If we continually allow these distractions to keep ourselves from feeling our feelings, and from deeply being with and connecting with those around us, then we are on some level letting life pass us by.

We are fighting an uphill battle this day and age. The digital age has in so many ways trained our brains to never have to tolerate boredom, because we can always reach for something more interesting than the present moment when our smartphones are close by.

Now let’s re-frame this positively—instead of trying to stop distracting ourselves, let’s instead look at increasing our focus. Where in your life are you losing focus? When do you find yourself reaching for something instead of fully engaging in the task at hand—no matter how small that task is? This is where a mindfulness practice, called RAIN comes in handy.

I came across RAIN while reading The Craving Mind by Judson Brewer—a book I highly recommend! The steps are:

  1. RECOGNIZE: The first step to changing any behavior is to recognize the thought that then leads to the behavior. You can’t change that which you are unaware of. You also need to relax into this new found awareness and realize that you ultimately have no control over the thoughts that arise. If you did, you would never have a thought that causes you to suffer because you would simply change it and never allow it again!
  2. ACCEPT: Accept that you have no control over the thoughts that arise. Don’t take it personally when you find yourself craving. It’s not you, it’s simply a neurochemical process occurring in your brain. Don’t try to distract yourself from your thoughts, don’t try to force them to go away, but rather, acknowledge that this is your experience and while you can’t control your thoughts, you can control how you respond to them.
  3. INVESTIGATE: Bring a sense of inquiry and curiosity to your experience. Check in with your emotions and your body. When the craving arises, such as the thought “I want to check my phone” investigate it. I ask myself questions such as: when was the last time I checked my phone? Do I really need to check it right now? Why or why not? How often does this thought arise? How do I feel when I have this thought? What emotions arise? How does my body respond? What physical sensations am I feeling? What am I avoiding?
  4. NOTE: In your investigation, simply take note of what has arisen. When I have the thought that I want to distract myself I notice that I start to feel a sense of anxiety, and that anxiety increases when I refuse to engage in the distracting behavior. My body contracts. I feel a surge of energy that makes me feel as though I need to take some sort of action. All of this is simply feedback about my lived experience. When I acknowledge and accept this feedback I create agency and allow myself the ability to respond rather than react. I can choose to engage in the behavior and see how that feels, or I can choose to use RAIN, ride the wave of craving, anchor into my body, witness my experience, and notice when the craving passes. Because it always does. The mind is pretty much always either in the past or in the future, however, the body is always in the present. We can anchor our minds to the present moment by investigating and tuning into the experience of our body.

Another helpful tool to create lasting change is to break it down into bite-sized chunks. I could completely do away with my phone, but it is a useful tool and I like it. In many ways it gives me pleasure and helps me to quickly and easily communicate with others. So instead of quitting all together I’m working to increase the length of time that I go without it.

I want it to be a tool that adds to my life, not one that takes away from it. Going back to bite-sized chunks, let’s look at how I am working on this blog post. I set myself a goal of going 30 minutes without doing anything besides focusing on the task at hand. In the past 30 minutes the urge to check email arose on seven (!!) different occasions, I used RAIN to ride the wave of craving. In doing so, I am building my focus through deliberate practice and, rewiring my brain in the process.

If you’re trying to increase your focus to complete work, or to spend an hour of uninterrupted, distraction free time with your family or friends it is also helpful to bring in ritual. Ritual is a powerful tool for the mind and psyche that signifies a beginning and end to something. When the same ritual is used consistently it primes the brain for that activity. For writing, I have decided to light a candle when I begin my 30-minute chunk of time and blow it out when I am done. Then I take a short break and repeat. As my urge to distract loses momentum, I will be able to lengthen these chunks of time.

Change is HARD. We all know this. What we are going for here is deliberate practice, not perfection. Knowing that you will inevitably fail many times in your endeavor to create change, The Craving Mind offers us some helpful tips.

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. There is no point. You can’t control the thoughts that arise, you can’t control your genetics, your history, what you’ve been exposed to over the years—it’s all been said and done. Instead lean towards non-judgmental acceptance.
  2. Take it slow. Change is often only sustainable when we approach it in a way that works for us, in bite-sized chunks. If I were to say I’m going to write for six hours without checking email or looking at my phone, I am inevitably setting myself up for failure. Start slow.
  3. Don’t take it personally when you mess up again. It’s not personal. It’s just your brain at work. It’s a neural pathway that needs to be unwound and that is a slow and ongoing process.
  4. Focus on quality over quantity. It’s about deliberate practice. Not perfect practice. Five minutes of writing and riding the waves of craving to distract is much more beneficial in rewiring the brain long term than going big right out of the gate. Start small, practice deliberately, use RAIN, and gradually increase the times you set aside to intentionally increase your focus on the task at hand.

 

Freedom: It’s an Inside Job

FREEDOM. I have been searching for it my entire life. I think the reason I’ve never found it is because it’s not something that can be found, in the sense that once you have it, it’s yours. It doesn’t work that way. It’s not a destination, rather, it’s a conscious choice; it’s a process. A process that happens in each and every moment.

My quest for freedom began at an early age, however, the most poignant memories around feeling an intense need for freedom come from my tumultuous teenage years. During this time, I felt trapped. Trapped in my body, trapped in my mind, trapped in my life. I wanted out. I wanted to escape. I wanted to be free. At that time in my life I thought that ending it all might perhaps be the only way I could ever find what I was looking for. But I’m glad I stuck it out, because I proved myself wrong (although it took years).

So while I didn’t end up taking my own life in my search for freedom (captain obvious speaking here), I still at that time did not have healthy tools to deal with my tortured thinking, so I turned toward an external source of relief: getting drunk (or high). As often as possible. And ya know what? It worked for a while.

I felt freedom because numbing myself with intoxicating substances provided temporary relief from my tortured thinking. However, it was a false sense of freedom, because ultimately, I became a slave to the bottle. What created temporary freedom led to a life of imprisonment. A life that relied on outside sources to free me from my suffering, which in the end only amplified my suffering.

When we rely on outside sources, we never find that which we seek. Because freedom, peace, contentment—all of these can only be found on the INSIDE.

Now, you might be thinking, what exactly is freedom? What exactly are you talking about?!? One definition is that freedom is the power to determine action without restraint. Another is that freedom is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. I like both of these definitions, and ultimately I believe that we are all seeking freedom from one thing: our thoughts. The thoughts that imprison, enslave, and restrain us—this is the cause of our suffering.

I’m not discounting the fact that some people have it HARD. Really hard. Living in circumstances that would seemingly cause anyone to suffer. But yet, time and time again people have proven that they can live in the shittiest of conditions and still feel free. Nelson Mandela and his time spent in prison comes to mind. Mandela is an example of a man who found freedom within himself despite his external circumstances. He found freedom from the thoughts that caused him to suffer.

What is interesting is that we can be in intense pain, and still choose not to suffer. Because freedom lies in our acceptance. And in trust. Trusting that life is in continual motion and what is at this moment, will not always be.

Suffering ultimately falls into three main categories:

  1. When we resist or argue with the past, present or future
  2. When we judge and/or compare the past, present or future
  3. When we attach or cling to the past, present or future

Lately, freedom has been on my mind, as I have created suffering for myself, mainly because I have been sitting in fear and uncertainty about what the future holds. Now I could sit here and berate myself with thoughts such as why the fuck are you suffering?! Shelby, you have it soooooo good. But then, there I go, judging myself—which only leads to more suffering. A negative feedback loop.

For many of us we believe that these are tumultuous times politically, economically, and socially. It can be hard (okay extremely fucking hard) to not resist, judge or attach to our thoughts about how we think things should be. But it’s possible. And, in fact, it is the only way we can experience freedom. Now this doesn’t mean that in doing this practice we stop moving towards that which we want or moving towards creating positive change in our lives and in the lives of others.

Life is full of paradox, an example being that all change starts with acceptance. Once we accept reality as it is in this moment, it is then that real change becomes possible. Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist says, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” I believe this holds true for all things. When we accept things just as they are, when we accept reality just as it is, it is then that we can tap into our power to affect change.

Through this acceptance we come to know where we can enact change, and where we can’t. The truth is that we always have the power to question our internal experience and thoughts around our circumstances.

I’m reminded of the Serenity Prayer:

God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

I’ve come to learn that freedom is just like sobriety—a habit we cultivate one day at a time. Sometimes even one moment at a time. I used to think, if only I could quit drinking, then I would be free. Well, to some extent that is true in that I am free from drinking. But I still get caught up in resisting, arguing, clinging, judging and comparing, and it is then that I feel far from free. It’s often the “I’ll be happy when…” thoughts that create the most suffering.

Thoughts such as:

I’ll be happy when I have more money…

I’ll be happy when I have more time…

I’ll be happy when I have less stress…

I’ll be happy when I lose ten pounds…

I wish I didn’t have to…

I wish my kids/husband/partner would…

I shouldn’t have done…

I should have done…

All of these thoughts cause us to suffer and they steal our freedom, and we get stuck in these habitual thought patterns. We become enslaved by them, often not even realizing that this is happening.

Our inner roommate, as Michael Singer likes to call it, is a sneaky little bastard. It’s that person who lives in your head who judges, criticizes, and compares alllll day long. In order to be free, we’ve got to put the inner roommate in check. And this takes effort. It’s not going to happen overnight, so you’ve got to stick with it. You’ve got to be willing to do the work.

It takes attention and focus as Gabor Maté says In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, “It’s a subtle thing, freedom. It takes effort; it takes attention and focus to not act something like an automaton.”

Like sobriety, freedom is often found one moment at a time. It is found through catching, questioning, and releasing one thought at a time.

We’ve got to cultivate persistence and patience and we need to celebrate the small wins. Life is all about the small wins, because those small wins add up to BIG wins. A few moments of freedom end up turning into hours of freedom.

I used to think about drinking All. The. Time. When I first quit, I would beat myself up about it. When the FUCK will I be free of this thing? I realize this thought was keeping me just as trapped as drinking was. So what I did was I started to celebrate the time spent in between these thoughts.

“Oh, the thought popped up again—how cool is it that I didn’t think about it for the past five seconds. AWESOME!”

I know it sounds trivial, but the time spent not thinking about it began to grow. And I continued to celebrate those wins. This, my friend, is freedom. It’s ongoing, and often it’s about finding a small shift in perspective. Finding acceptance with what IS.

Byron Katie says, “Freedom is possible in every moment.” In fact, I think that is the only time freedom is possible. In this very moment. Right here, right now. For you. For me. For everyone. Regardless of our circumstances.

So if you are suffering, I invite you to write. Write out all of your thoughts. Then, step back and look at each one. Notice where you are resisting, arguing, judging, comparing, clinging or attaching to the past, present, or future. Notice who is noticing these thoughts—that is your center, the witness.

I find it helpful to drop into meditation. My mind often goes bat shit crazy in meditation—and THAT’S OKAY. The point is to just sit there and watch your thoughts, watch them as they move from one thought to the next. Don’t judge them or label them good or bad. They are neither good or bad, rather, the just ARE. Again, this is your witness, your center.

Next, do the work on the stickiest thoughts. Question them, turn them around, find other thoughts that perhaps might be more true. The benefit of this is that it sloooows us down. It stops us from being automatons who habitually attach to these sticky thoughts that cause us to suffer.

If you’re willing to do the work, you can be free. I ain’t saying it will be easy. But it will be worth it, because YOU ARE WORTH IT. Here’s to freedom, my friends. Our healing, our peace, our freedom is the world’s healing, peace, and freedom.

Put Your Fear in the Bitch Seat

For the past couple of years I have been a dream junkie. I write down my dreams (the ones I can remember anyways!!) and tend to the symbols that appear in them. I was recently listening to a Jungian Analyst who was giving a lecture on dream interpretation. I know. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?!? But hear me out…

The lecture suggested that if you want to find the complex at work in your life then look at your past ten or so dreams and explore the common threads. I thought, what a freaking cool idea! To my surprise, fear was the predominate emotion in my dream life. I thought this was odd, as I didn’t think that fear was significantly in my life at this moment, but in digging deeper, I realized it was there. Ohhhh, yes, it was there. In a few areas, actually. I’ve just been burying it, ignoring it, and refusing to acknowledge it.

As I continue to tend to these past dreams, and look toward my more recent dreams, I know that some of the underlying fear is related to the direction I see myself moving in the next couple of years. I love what I am doing now—teaching yoga, coaching clients, and blogging, however, I can’t continue to ignore the whispers of my soul. It has been pointing me towards something that integrates all that I have been learning and doing, and I’ve been denying it for quite some time. I’d love to tell you what direction that is—but I’m still really fucking afraid! HA! Soon enough, friends, soon enough. It won’t be long till I can walk hand in hand with fear and “come out.” Because I am using the practices I outline below, and fear is loosening its grip. I’m working through and with the fear and quietly beginning to move in the direction I know I want to go.

Over the years I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter whether our fear is at the forefront, or being repressed, either way, it keeps us small and holds us back.

Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Your fear must be kept in its place. (True emergencies only, please.) Your fear must not be allowed to make decisions about creativity, passion, inspiration, dreams. Your fear doesn’t understand these things, and so it makes the most boring possible decisions about them. Your fear mistakes creativity and inspiration for saber-toothed tigers and wolf packs. They aren’t. Creativity and inspiration are the vehicles that will transport you to the person you most need to become.” If we are to live the lives we are destined to live, the lives we desire to live, then we must discipline our fear, place it in the back seat, and not allow it to take the wheel. Better yet, assign your fear to the bitch seat—the least desirable spot in the car. Because there’s not much space in that seat, plus you have to sit on that uncomfortable little hump, squeezed between two other people. Can you tell I have kids who constantly fight over where they will sit in the car?!? I digress…

Bottom line is that all fear does is hold us back from living a more expansive life. It keeps us from creating. It stops us dead in our tracks. As Jack Canfield says, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

Take a moment to consider something you are afraid of, something that you have not yet acted on because your fear is holding you back. Perhaps this includes making a career change, leaving a relationship, trying out a new activity, leaving behind an addiction, exploring a creative pursuit or following a dream.

There is a beautiful poem by Hafiz, An Infant in Your Arms. He says,

The tide of my love

Has risen so high let me flood over

You.

Close your eyes for a moment

And maybe all your fears and fantasies

Will end.

If that happened

God would become an infant in your

Arms

And then you

Would have to nurse all

Creation!

If fear was not holding you back, what would you nurse into creation? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What would you do if you did not fear judgment from others? (This last one being my greatest struggle. Ugh.) Perhaps there is a gift in this imagined fear, the gift of direction. Mastin Kipp says, “Unless you’re in mortal danger, fear is a compass showing you where to go.” I believe there is wisdom in this as there are many others out there who have said variations of the same thing.

For example, another prominent teacher, Joseph Campbell, says, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” Let’s take a moment and explore that metaphorical cave. What exactly is it that you are afraid of? Visualize all of your fears and write them down. What does it look like if the worst-case scenario came true? How does your body react? Take three deep belly breaths, breathing into your belly, expanding your rib cage, and drawing the breath into your upper chest. Don’t forget to exhale! Could you survive the worst-case scenario? Chances are you could. How many worst-case scenarios have you experienced in your life thus far? And look! You’re still alive and kickin’.

Now, visualize your courageous-self walking past those fears and farther into the cave. Visualize the best-case scenario. What do you see? What are you doing? How are you feeling? How is your body responding? Do you feel a sense of expansion or constriction? If you are feeling expansive and open-hearted as you imagine this best-case scenario, perhaps that is a sign to follow your fear, to walk into that cave, for it holds the treasure you seek.

Elizabeth Gilbert says, “I want us all liberated from the path of fear for many reasons—but mostly because it makes for such a damn boring life. Fear only ever tells you one thing: STOP. Whereas creativity, courage and inspiration only ever want you to GO. GO=motion=change=fascination=possibility=growth=LIFE. STOP=well, nothing. And nothing is always more boring than something. So…go do something.” Such brilliant words of wisdom. I fucking love this woman. I believe we are born to create and to witness creation. It is why we are here. Most everything created is the result of somebody moving past their fear. If our fear holds us back, we become stagnant and withdrawn from the raging rivers that feed our soul.

As you move towards that which you want, your fear will continue to arise. That’s okay. Give it a hug and then lovingly tell it to “fuck off.” Okay, that’s not really loving, maybe nicely tell it that you hear it, you see it, but you’re going to act anyways. The goal isn’t to be rid of fear, but rather to work with you’re fear. Again, to use the car analogy–it’s not that you kick your fear out of the car. You just don’t allow it to take the wheel.

It’s awesome that you’re afraid. It means that what you’re doing is important to you. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be afraid. Simply notice the fear. Witness it. Take a few belly breaths and relax behind it as if it were a cloud floating on by. Thank it for pointing you towards that which you desire.

I have also found a variation of one of Gabby Bernstein’s activities in her book May Cause Miracles to be quite helpful in working with fear.

Write: “I am willing to witness my fears” Write down what it is you fear.

Write: “I am willing to see this differently. I am willing to see love.”

Write: “I am afraid to _________. I am willing to see love instead of this.” What would choosing love over fear look like in this situation? Write it down.

Write: “I am willing to be courageous.”

Meditate on: “Show me the way.” Look to your dreams, to synchronicities, to signs from the universe. Trust that you are being divinely guided. Thank your fear, release it, and keep on marching forward. Do this practice, EVERY DAY.

I believe in you. I believe in me. We can do this, friends. Let’s start today. What is the direction your fear is pointing you towards? What is one step that you can take today to move in that direction?

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 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