We all do it; at the year’s end, we assess our achievements for the past year and plan our next year’s achievements. What we rarely do is step back and see the past year as a Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey; nor do we set up the next year as a new Hero’s Journey.
After studying myths, literature, and history for decades, Campbell saw a pattern. This pattern is laid out in his Hero’s Journey. I’ve written about it here, here, and here. We are called (pushed) to start the journey because our current situation is not working. Along this venture, the unexpected happens to us. New mentors show up. At some point, we face a death, usually of our old way of doing things. Some part of our ego dies.
After our rebirth, we integrate our healing and learning. We return to our community a new man, hopefully, honored for our journey and transformation.
These journeys don’t usually follow a solar year. But at the year’s end, we have an opportunity to view our year(s) from this perspective. There is power in seeing your year from a place of deep change. It enables you to have more compassion for your mistakes when you can see what they taught you. Seeing periods of your life as a deeper process unfolding may give you a lesson that was not originally apparent. The sooner you get it, the sooner you can move on.
In my TEDx talk, I speak about creating an Emotional Revolution for men—a revolution that sets men free from the limiting confines of our old emotional paradigm. This revolution came from a few of my Hero’s Journeys. Being hard-headed, I resisted giving up the old way. But as I finally surrendered, I began to see the possibility of something better. The work was in creating it first for myself, then for my clients, then the men in our free groups, and now for all men.
As much as I wish it were, this adventure is not done for me. It continues as refinements of developing my own Masculine Emotional Intelligence (MEI). I have to walk my talk.
I wanted this year to be the year our work took off. It wasn’t. It was a year of more healing. Healing I didn’t expect.
For a couple of years, I had a rash. I don’t get rashes. This one wouldn’t go away. I applied all I knew about holistic medicine to shift it. It wouldn’t leave. Then in September, co-ministering my friend Dan Doty’s wedding in Bozeman, MT, it came to me. I have leaky gut—a condition where the small intestine develops holes in its one cell thick layer. I felt like a fool not realizing it sooner.
I immediately got on it. In a month my rash was 70% gone, my exhaustion was gone and my mind worked better than ever. Within three months I gained back the fifteen pounds of muscle I lost. My weak, shaking arms were now strong.
As I do my year-end review, I see I didn’t get what I wanted—I got what I needed. After healing my dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome, dyspraxia, Lyme’s Disease and a tense body—there was one more thing I needed to heal to achieve what I want I my life. Learning more about leaky gut I realized I had had it since I was a kid, setting up low energy and a foggy brain.
I wanted this year to be the year. It was. But it was not the year of taking off; it was a year of completing a forty-year journey of healing my challenges. I allow myself to feel the disappointment of not achieving my success. I also allow myself to feel the good fortune of being set free from a life of low energy and brain fog.
I immediately had several sessions with different practitioners. I’m not into suffering when I know there is something I can do facilitate change.
What challenge did you take on, consciously or unconsciously in the past year or more? Where are you with that challenge? Who’s your support?
I can be as guilty as the next guy of not acknowledging my success. I know that one of the keys to success, and enjoying life is to stop and experience the wins. Here are a few of my wins this year:
The group I started, the Sandpoint Men’s Group (which was the foundation for all my new work with men) is finishing its tenth year with a bang. In a town of less than ten thousand, we had more than two hundred men participate in our groups. The original group is now a community of four groups. In the last two months, we have had ten men ask to join our free groups. The most rewarding part is to see how men are living the lives they wanted. Marriages that were on the rocks are flourishing.
Struggling through school, there were two things I knew I would never do: write a book and give a real speech to a large group. I released my book two years ago, and it continues to climb in the ratings without any effort on my part. My TEDx talk inspires men and women. I appreciate that part of my success is due to tapping into the Zeitgeist of angst with what it is to be a man emotionally.
Our weekend trainings are taking off around the country, because men are looking for a simple way to win with emotions and to have a brotherhood.
If I’m going to continue to be a part of this Emotional Revolution, I need to continue to stretch myself. Now that I’ve done a book and speech, my next project is launching my pilot course for becoming an Emotional Superman. As with the other projects, my success depends on others helping me and joining what we are doing.
Two of my challenges are to ask for help… and then receive it. So, I’m asking for your help. If you are inspired by this course, give it a try. If you know of someone who might benefit, please share it. Thank you.
The Next Journey
Next year I’m turning my nonprofit, Men Corps into a 501(c)(3) tax deductible nonprofit. I want to be able to give men more free tools to create their free groups. I will also be releasing my Rolfing book, Power of Rolfing. I will continue to speak about our work. I’m scheduled for the Annual Interdisciplinary Conference of the American Men's Studies Association (AMSA) at the University of Michigan.
There are a couple of big surprises we are working on 2016 that I can’t share right now… something to look forward to in this coming year.
A year from now it will be exciting to look back to see what was occurring beneath the surface. What was my Hero’s Journey for the year that initiated new growth?
What are your goals that will also be the vehicle of your growth? How will you add value to others? What do you want that you never had?
What new risks will you take? Not just upping your risks in the arenas that you usually play in, but in new places in your life? What relationship will you deepen or create?
Do what more and more men are doing: start your own free men’s group. Let it be the fast track to growth. Become the leader that you resisted in becoming. Be the leader of your own Emotional Revolution.
Raise your bar. Pick at least one friend and sit down and discuss your past year from the place of a Hero’s Journey, and plan your next year from the place of stretching emotionally. Then plan your structure of support for the year. Get support. Give support.
If a kid that almost flunked out of school, a kid who could barely speak because of a speech impediment, can write a book and give a TEDx talk, then you can achieve one impossible goal this coming year.
Let us know your challenges and goals to overcome them. Let us know how we can help.