(I know, I know. I go over and over and over these basic patterns. But repetition is the mother of skill!)
The Third Step of the Hero’s Journey is acceptance of the challenge. And here, the challenge is to be either an awake, aware, adult human being…or an awake, aware, adult ARTIST-type human being. One who communicates this state through stories. And since everything we say is a story, these are just people who do it consciously.
Everything you say or think is a story. Think about that.
Being awake, aware, and adult means not being a sleeping child. What does this mean? It means that you cannot blame your life circumstances on how your parents treated you as a child. Your childhood, negative or positive, was a real thing. And so what? If you are to live a happy life, you have to take control.
You cannot blame your circumstances on luck. “Luck” is one of the most unuseful concepts in the world. Except for people briefly thinking “I was lucky to meet X” or “I was unlucky to have Y happen…” luck is just part of the flow of life. Good things happen. Bad things happen. But the majority of the people you have ever admired, heard of, created anything you find useful or amazing, had HABITS very different from the average person. They spend the maximum amount of time actually engaged in the DOING of the thing they love. If they pop up at the peak of human success, the golden 1% of the 1% of the 1%, did they have “luck”? Sure. But absent some specific and grotesquely ugly BAD luck, you can get yourself into the top 20% of almost any field by obsessive work. Are you in the top 20%? Then the question of “luck” is IRRELEVANT to you. “Luck” is an excuse, a belief that masks the fact that you are too afraid to focus and commit. If you did, you could get into the top 20%. If you’re there, and you love what you’re doing, you’re too busy to spend much time worrying about who hit the lottery.
It means you take responsibility for your emotions. If you have a clinical issue, you get to the doctor. Otherwise, you know that what you focus on, what you say, and the actions you take control how you feel.
And please hear this: you know that you are responsible for your dreams, your safety, your welfare. It isn’t fair, but it is real. There is no one else to do it. Children can scream for their parents to come and rescue them. ADULTS HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.
Now, part of this can and should be building partnerships with others, value-for-value transactions: mentorships, masterminds, social fabrics, teams. That’s all great.
But you are the bottom line. There is no one else. If you get whiplashed by the existential loneliness of that, then have a good cry, then get to work.
You cannot let yourself be hypnotized by the social Matrix of lies and mythologies about race, gender, religion, nationality. Human beings are human beings. The differences between us as groups are slight.
You don’t let yourself get dragged into pity parties. You accept the universality of humanity EVEN IF YOU SOMETIMES CANNOT UNDERSTAND how some inequalities, cruelties, or abuses happen. You know that you and yours would do the same things given the same pre-conditions, in approximately the same proportions. The only reason to fail to see this is lack of understanding of yourself, your own emotions, the way your actions create your results, your emotions create your actions, your perceptions create your emotions.
How do you know if you are off target? Look at your body, your relationship history, your career. Animals are in balance with their hunting-gathering, they mate, they either avoid or combat predators or die.
If you are not the thinking version of animal drives, SOMETHING IS WRONG. The only reason not to see this is fear of what it might mean, fear that there is something corrupt or evil about you.
This is why we have to start with love. Loving yourself so deeply that you can see that any problem is a distortion in the system, an illusion, and commit to awaken. All that really exists is love.
What is the STORY you tell yourself about your career? Do you think that you have something of value to give the world, but that money, sales, or marketing is less than a positive service? How precisely does that work? That “luck” keeps you out of the top 20% of your field? Then you’re saying everyone in the top 20% is just “lucky”? Really? How exactly does that work, unless you’re doing the exact same things but getting very different results?
What is the STORY you tell yourself about your body? Do you tell yourself that it requires money, exorbitant amounts of time, impossible effort to discipline and align yourself with your own values? World-class genetics, or that genetics have somehow shifted massively in the computer age? Come on…you know damned well the kind of men or women who catch your eye. Make you say “yum.” Are your actions in alignment with that level of health and energy? The entire ZNT (“Zero Net Time”) system I laid out was about shattering the comforting myth that you have no time or money to change.
What is the STORY you tell yourself about your relationship history? If you are like 99.9% of humanity, you have the same urge to love and be loved, hold and be held, as the entire genetic line of beings who created you, back to our ancestors on the veldt. If you don’t have that urge, I suggest that it is the result of specific damage, negative experience, pain and fear and horrible role models. If you know no healthy models of happy couples, gay or straight, you are self-selecting for pain. We’re out there, legions of us and you have deleted us. We may not be perfect, but we honestly love each other and stand together in life.
If you don’t believe in success, if you don’t believe in health, if you don’t believe in love…you have to either take RESPONSIBILITY for happiness in these arenas, commit to CHANGING those emotions and perceptions, or life will run you over. You may not know HOW you will reach these goals, but you may have to look at the cycle of storytelling to step #8: FAITH. Faith in yourself. Faith that people like me aren’t lying to you about the chance to be happy, and the path to joy, if only you can love yourself enough to forgive yourself, commit to protect your heart, and make a vow to be an ADULT in your own life, to nurture and protect your “child” and childhood dreams. To be your own mother, your own father. Faith that you are not so out of alignment with your animal nature that you are being outperformed by the average chipmunk.
I mean…come ON, people.
Those are the basic things. Look at any story you’ve ever loved. One way or another, all of them involve someone seeking to move away from pain (survival) or toward pleasure (success) in the arenas of career, physical health, or love. Write your own story. Your challenge is to ACCEPT the challenge.
If you are a storyteller, you’ll have an additional challenge: to COMMUNICATE what you find once you set down this road. If you choose to accept it, I promise you’ll find allies. Promse that I won’t let go of your hand while I have a breath of life in my body.
But YOU must decide to take responsibility. No one else can.