The Great Round of Transformation
When I started out life coaching ten years ago and sat down in front of my first real-life client, I was immediately struck by how little I really knew about personal transformation ― it’s one thing wanting to help others change their lives; it’s quite another to traverse that precarious trajectory yourself, razing your life to the ground and turning your psyche inside-out so you can sort through the, often gory, frequently baffling viscera.
The enormity of what I was attempting hit me with a resounding humility. No matter how much I wanted to help, no matter how hard I’d studied, how many books I’d read, I knew I didn’t have the depth of experience to hold up against the weight of my clients’ hopes and fears. Not that I could change their lives for them ― I’ve never professed to be able to do that for anyone, nor would I ever. If you want to change any aspect of your life only you can do it, only for yourself, and only when you’re ready.
But it was this sense of inadequacy that eventually drove me to seek an inside-out, bottom-up transformation in my own life ― a cycle of growth which, ten years on, is still very much ongoing. Some days I wonder why the hell I ever started. But, in a way, I’m glad I feel like that; because that’s the reality of consciously committing to personal growth ― it’s damn hard work. Navigating my own ongoing voyage of self-discovery has lent me a more realistic, more compassionate, more patient insight into just what it takes to fulfil your potential and ‘live your essence out’ in a world that often feels as though it’s attempting to thwart you at every turn.
What has helped, though, is constantly observing, recording, and reflecting not just on my life, but on the lives of others who are either being dragged, or walking as best they can, from one life level to another ― hopefully one that’s more conscious, more vital, and more fulfilling. It’s these observations, along with my personal experience and ongoing studies, that have helped me identify the real life archetype of the Hero’s Journey: an initiatory cycle of transformation consisting of three main stages ― Separation, Initiation (or Ordeal), and Return or Life, Death, Rebirth ― that both threads through and circumscribes every metamorphosis that’s ever been.
I say ‘real life’ as when I first encountered Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, I thought this archetype was reserved for other people, ‘out there’, on the cinema screen, say; exceptional individuals whose stories have been laid down in the annals of myth, weaved into legends we modern mortals could only ever hope to aspire to. But it turns out that’s not the case at all.
What I’ve gradually come to understand is this is a living, breathing, dynamic archetype that becomes increasingly tangible the further you follow it, with each stage emerging and crystallising through the events and circumstances of one’s life. But it’s only with time and ongoing reflection that you begin to feel its outline, behold the shadow it casts.
At the end of my first book, Running into Myself, I was aware I still faced the third and final stage of this great round of transformation ― the Return. I intuited it’d be tough and said as much in the closing chapter. What I didn’t know was just how tough the final stage would be or how long it would last.
I’m a spirited, steadfast so-and-so, underscored by a strength that, at times, has surprised even me. But these past three-and-three-quarter years (my book ends in January 2009) have proved the most challenging of the last ten years by far. It was one thing being forged in the fiery physicality of three gruelling Marathons; it’s been quite another to be psychically dismembered, endure long periods without so much as a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, and make what’s seemed like sacrifice after heartbreaking sacrifice across all areas of my life. No wonder those familiar with the archetype of the Hero’s Journey remark on the Return phase as being the most difficult, the stage where most throw in the towel and slide back down the proverbial snake to square one ― they weren’t kidding.
No wonder they call it the Hero’s Journey.
Click here to read Part Two
To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.
“Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”
“This is a story that truly reveals its author. You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.
And you’ll like her.”