What if instead of letting fear and uncertainty overpower us, what if we leaned into accepting where we are now: Musicians — Welcome to the Ordeal.
I know, it sounds like a video game. I wish it were. But it’s our reality: we’re in the Ordeal, the “all is lost” portion of our collective Hero’s Journey. It’s the series of trials the hero goes through: the biggest challenges and threats.
And it’s required in order for the Hero to be transformed. It’s the rite of passage in which heroes fight their demons, internal and external.
Steven Pressfield has written extensively on the hero’s journey in relation to the creative process and to life. Here’s Steve on the All Is Lost moment:
“What happens is the hero—i.e., you and me — comes face to face with a lie he has told himself, a lie upon which he has based his entire life (or, in a movie, the sum of the events so far in the film.)
The lie is a self-delusion. It’s an act of denial, a cherished belief about ourselves or our prospects. When events compel us at last to see this self-delusion, our reaction is ‘All is lost!’ We believe that we cannot live without this self-delusion. There is no way out. We’re finished.”
The Corona virus isn’t the self-delusion here: that’s all too real. But we do have . . .
Self-delusions to let go of
Last week I wrote about Letting Go and the Loss Processing tool. Well, we have multiple opportunities to use the Tool . . .
We can let go of the lie that this will all blow over soon. By letting go of this, we can deal with the reality of how to manage ourselves through this.
We can also let go of the self-delusion that things will return to “normal.” If we do, we can grieve the loss and then get on with adapting to the new normal.
And we can finally let go of the lie we tell ourselves that we have plenty of future ahead of us. When we truly accept that life is short, we are better able to focus on our priorities.
In this “Coronapause” of heightened reflection, think about the self-delusions you’ve been carrying around.
Confronting our own false beliefs is the first step to making real change, individually and collectively.
Not the journey you signed up for?
To be clear, some hero’s journeys are ones we choose — there’s the seemingly impossible piece you chose to program, or the course you agreed to teach knowing it would kick your butt.
We say “yes” to these journeys for the creative challenges they offer. They’re crazy difficult but worth it — because we know we’ll grow as artists from seeing these projects through.
But many hero’s journey aren’t elective. They’re thrust upon us — the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of our health.
What we’re experiencing now is global: a collective hero’s journey “all is lost” passage
We’re in the Ordeal. It’s as though the universe is telling us all, “STOP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING. REFOCUS AND DO BETTER.”
It’s an opportunity for course correction: to change how we treat the planet, each other, and our selves.
If we’ve learned nothing else from the crisis, at least we’ve learned that we are all connected. When we let go of our own false beliefs and begin to change, it helps everyone. Letting go of our self-delusion is the start and the next step is clarifying our values.
Focus on What Matters Most Now
You may have identified your values in the past. But values shift and change over time. And in periods of extreme stress, checking in on our values may be the best centering tool we have.
Identify your top 5 values from the list below (adapted from Dallas Travers’ work).
Don’t see the ones you need? Add your own. There’s no right or wrong, just your own truth.
Next, from your list of 5, select ONE as your primary “anchor” value. I know, choosing is hard. But choosing a primary value doesn’t exclude the others, it simply says here’s what I’m choosing to lead with.
If it helps to see an example, my top five came out as Community, Generosity, Wholeness, Intuition, and Courage.
And my primary value? Courage. For me, it’s the courage to face my demons. To get outside my comfort zone and do the scary necessary work of becoming the best version of myself — and sharing that with others.
What about you? I’ve love to hear what you come up with!
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And if you’ve got a question about working with me to help you create an action plan in these uncertain times, check here.
Wishing you and your loved ones all the best,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well