I’m reading a great new book these days – well, actually, it’s a tremendously popular 1998 title, The Hero Within, by Carol S. Pearson. When my train arrives at the Central Library these mornings, I feel like a therapist has just told me: “We’ll have to continue this another time...” and I want to plead: “Please – just 5 more minutes!”
The Hero Within is an exploration of archetypes and their role in our psychological development and health. We all live out patterns of thinking and doing that reveal our psychological similarities. We cope with problems, challenges or obstacles, and we do so by telling ourselves stories about ourselves and the world. Stories like “I just can’t win. It’s so unfair!” or “...no one really understands me, anyway” or “...no one appreciates the work that I do, and the sacrifices that I constantly make”. Or stories like “I have to take this journey, even though I’m not sure where I’m going”. At any given moment, we may be operating within the narrative of the orphan, innocent, magician, wanderer, warrior or altruist.
Heroes aren’t perfect people. They often come from dysfunctional or impoverished backgrounds, and are flawed individuals. But we admire them because they don’t give up. Heroes aren’t great because they’re fearless. They’re great because they act in spite of their fear. Heroes learn to recognize what is important and what is not; they learn to cope with loss, and to summon the strength to fight for what is just. Heroes don’t care about what others think.
Even though it sounds corny, it’s true: each of us is on her own journey. Read The Hero Within and be encouraged to show courage, adopt a new life pattern (and lose the old ones!), make a difficult choice, and grow.
For general psychology and self help, browse section 158 of your local library.