A Heroine's Journey

Well, I can only speak for myself, but I can honestly say 2020 was a powerful year. So many veils being lifted. And I think this caused many of us to go through our own transformations. For me, I really had to shut everything down and go inward. No social media posting, no emails, no podcast episodes for many months. I have been doing something I have never done, which is to be still and to allow for an inward unfolding. I thought I was ready to reemerge in September... I tried. I even boldly named the last episode “I’m coming out”. Well, I wasn’t quite cooked, so I crawled right back into the chrysalis like the good little caterpillar that I am.

I recall my word of intention for 2020 was “Surrender”. You know that saying - be careful what you ask for? Well the universe certainly delivered. Big time. For many, the dark moments of 2020 will come to mind, but I’m trying to see that darkness in a new light. I mean what an opportunity this has been to let go! So I have been surrendering and letting go for months... And I know I am still in the process....

I don’t know where to begin, so I am just going to jump right in here with something top of mind that keeps showing up in multiple ways (that’s when I know it’s important). The topic is blaming, finger-pointing. We all do it. So let’s just get on an even playing field right off the bat. Pointing fingers is something we do in subtle ways and not so subtle... it has become part of the human experience. And it actually plays an important role in the transformational process of the expansion of consciousness. I will show you what I mean.

I had an experience recently where I felt seriously triggered. I hadn’t reacted so strongly to something in a while, so this definitely got my attention. I found myself in a situation with a business colleague and a friend where I felt undermined and disrespected. I was immediately on the defense. I was mad! My ego was armed and ready to defend my beliefs. My impulse in the moment was to write a defensive and attacking text message... which luckily, I had enough restraint to keep myself from sending. Instead, I went through several rewrites to tone it down… and when my husband got home, I vented all my feelings about what happened. I let it all out. What this person did and how why it was wrong and how I was hurt. And he did exactly as I had asked when I was venting. He just listened and validated my feelings (and by the way, this is the most compassionate and powerful way to support someone who is upset). I just needed to be witnessed and told it made sense why I would feel frustrated and disrespected. I didn’t need him to fix it or tell me what high road to take, I just needed to be seen and validated. You know what I am talking about.

When you are upset, you don’t need reflection and wisdom in that moment. You just need compassion. You can reflect later. When you are ready. It’s a journey. Step one of the journey is to feel the hurt and express your feelings, hopefully in a way that makes the least amount of mess to clean up later. Right? Don’t take it out on an innocent bystander or even the person you are mad at. Call a friend, call your coach, write an angry letter you never intent do send. Yell into a pillow. Just get it all out, allow yourself to feel your feelings. Avoiding jumping right into trying to taking the high road when you are triggered is actually helpful, because if you jump, you are abandoning the part of yourself that is upset and you will miss the transformational opportunity. This is called spiritual bypassing and anyone who is on the spiritual path is susceptible to this.

So, the first step is to feel your feelings, as raw and vulnerably as possible. Let yourself feel hurt. This only becomes a problem when you get stuck in the hurt and hold on to the belief that you are a victim of your experience. And it’s easy to do. Most people get stuck there. That’s when the opportunity gets missed. Ultimately, when you are blaming someone or something outside of yourself, you are actually giving that person or that entity all the power, so you lose. What do you think you are achieving if you allow yourself to stay stuck? You are only sinking into the role of victim, which is not an empowered place to be. But this is the craftiest trick of the ego - it will try to keep you feeling like a victim to distract you into staying small instead of growing and transforming. The ego has to die a little in order for you to get bigger, so it resists your growth.

But here is the thing. You are not small. You are the light of the world. That is the truth underneath. When you get triggered, you are bumping up against a place where you have been keeping yourself small.... so feeling triggered, feeling disrespected, feeling like a victim are actually opportunities to transcend. They are gifts.

Many people are out in the world playing victim to their circumstances, never stopping to consider another possibility. Look at what is happening in the world right now. Everyone is finding others to blame and no one is taking responsibility.

So what is the other possibility here? Where is the opportunity for empowerment? How do we make our way out of being a victim?

When you are in the first stage of transformation, the victim stage, you are in fear. And when you are in fear, there is no light coming in. You cannot see. It’s painful but necessary. When you express the pain, it’s like a purge of whatever is blocking your true sight. Or as some mystic traditions would describe it; lifting the veil. When you express your feelings, there is a space that opens up where you have a choice. This space presents the opportunity to make a conscious decision to reflect. To be willing to see things differently.

Through reflection we take the bold step to turn the finger back on ourselves and take responsibility for our own triggers.

When I get to this stage, what really helps me to flip the switch is to remember that “It’s all here for me”. The universe is unfolding for my highest good, whether I am experiencing something pleasant or excruciating. One of my powerful tools is to say to myself, “I know this is somehow here for me”. A statement like this opens the mind to see things differently. The Course in Miracles would say, this statement opens the door for a miracle “shift in perception from fear to love”, from a withdrawn perspective to an expansive perspective. From limited thinking to limitless thinking. We all have this capacity.

You have to experience this for yourself to really know this powerful truth. I’m sharing a story from my own life so you can see the formula. Once you know the formula, it’s up to you to use it the next time you get the opportunity. And opportunities happen every single day. Whether it’s something small like your partner doing something that annoys you or something bigger like someone disregarding you, or something even bigger like being the victim of a brutal attack. Believe it or not, these are all opportunities for transformation, a rebirth, an awakening.

So back to my story. After I had settled down enough to compose a calm text message, I requested to meet in person so we could have a conversation. She let me know she wouldn’t be available for 3 days! Of course my ego wanted to get this all resolved immediately. I took a deep breath and accepted this time as an opportunity to reflect more deeply. I know from years of experience that the deeper I am willing to dig, the greater the reward.

I used the time to look at what part of me was so armed and ready to be defensive. I found a limiting belief my inner child has been hanging on to, a deep-seated belief I have to earn my worth; a part of me that still, after all this time, isn’t yet convinced I am inherently worthy, regardless of what I’ve made or what I’ve accomplished in my life.

Looking at this objectively, it makes so much sense why this would be there. Growing up in a world where women are not inherently valued creates limiting beliefs in many girls that still limits them as women. We have had to find our own way to overcome being oppressed. Women have been oppressed for thousands of years and have been brutally punished throughout history when trying to own their power. It makes sense why some part of me has accepted a limiting belief rooted in this collective unconscious.

So I can have compassion for myself for taking that on, but that doesn’t mean that I have to keep playing victim to the narrative of oppression. And let me take a moment to recognize that my burdens as a white woman are less complex and brutal as the burdens of many women of color or women from disadvantaged households, but I believe these tools and the importance of transformation are valuable to all women.

For me, from reflection, I realized my sense of value and worth has been tied up in the business I devoted 10+ years of my life building. Clear as sunlight. I had placed my worth outside of myself. So it made deep sense why I would feel defensive in this situation. More importantly, it became clear I needed to reclaim my inherent worth, inside of myself, where it has always been... I had just lost track of it in my ego’s tornado of defensiveness. I didn’t need my business colleague and friend to validate my worth with her respect, I needed to validate my own worth for myself - and that is the most powerful medicine there is.

When it came time to have the conversation, 3 days later, the outcome was a gift beyond what I could have ever hoped to receive. We actually both walked away from our conversation feeling lifted. Only because I was able to offer the gift to myself first, was I able to be fully available to receive it from someone else. And that is how it works. The world is a reflection. To paraphrase Anais Nin from the 1920’s, we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.

Each one of us must choose to move beyond the role of victim and to reclaim our own power. I can only be oppressed if I accept oppression for myself. And that becomes the heroine’s journey! A journey from victimhood to empowerment.

I could stop there, but I want to add that this journey from fear to love, from victim to empowerment, is clearly demonstrated in the story of the crucifixion. I don’t consider myself a traditional Christian, I’m more of an ecumenical, but I am fascinated by the story of Jesus and the cross because I believe it is a powerful guide to transformation that has been right in front of us for 2,000 years and yet we keep missing the message of the teaching. Blaming and pointing fingers is the state of feeling crucified. The cross is the ultimate symbol of victimhood (Why is this happening to me? God, why have you forsaken me? They did this to me!). The image of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate symbol of the victim. He is in despair, he is weakened, he has tears in his eyes, blood flowing from his wounds. He is the evidence of how a corrupt government won and killed the son of God.

In the Course in Miracles, Jesus says “See the cross, but do not dwell there.” This means feel the hurt and pain and have compassion for yourself and then continue the journey to claim the miracle that awaits on the other side.

The story is an example of the hero’s journey from victim to empowerment. The crucifixion is only the painful part which is often an essential part of the process, but not where the process ends. The point is the journey to resurrection!

Why is this not obvious? How did so much of humanity get stuck in this first stage of the story? Why has the cross been the object of worship? I am only sharing my perspective here, but if people are kept stuck in feelings of pain and victimhood, they are powerless and much easier to control. Within ourselves, our ego makes this effort, but sometimes humans make this effort over their fellow humans. If a handful desired control over the masses of the world, then preventing them from awakening to their own hero and heroine’s journey would be a clear strategy. If a goal of organized religion and national governments was to have unqualified power, it would make sense to use the crucifixion as a central message, rather than the resurrection.

This perspective may be triggering for you depending on your current belief system. But remember a trigger is an opportunity for an awakening of consciousness, an expansion, a resurrection.

This is an invitation to meet each moment as the challenging or welcome gift that it is. And to begin to see your triggers as opportunities to bring more light into your life. Where you are playing victim in your life? Who or what are you blaming for your suffering? Is it your partner? Your boss? Your government? Fascists? Racists? The Right? The Left? Your abuser? Life? Your body? God? Time? Illness? Pain? Or do you just blame yourself? Which can be the most painful attack of them all …

These are amazing times we are living in. Fear, lack and limitation are being brought into the light and questioned and let go. This is the start of a new age. A time when we are all invited to look within and reclaim our empowerment. This will take courage. The reward will feel nothing short of miraculous. You will have to experience it for yourself to know it, so go ahead, get started.

Blessed be.