Important Lessons from The Hero’s Journey on How to Support Your Clients to Thrive When Faced With Challenge, Pain and Discomfort
Over the course of this year and next, we’ll be studying the various stages of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey as a means of discovering how to better serve our clients on their own transformational life paths.
Last month, we looked at the third stage of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey to explore the best ways of supporting our clients as they cross the threshold and start taking action toward manifesting their greatest dreams.
In other words, we talked about supporting our clients in making a formal commitment to their journey and actually beginning the process of starting something new!
This month, let’s take a look at the fourth and final stage of the “Departure” part of the hero’s journey – going willingly into the “belly of the whale” ‒ in order to best serve our clients as they finally separate themselves from their previous world, encounter all that holds them back and bring forth their un-lived potential.
So where does the term “belly of the whale” come from?
“Belly of the whale” takes its name from the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale.
The story goes that God commanded Jonah to sail to the city of Nineveh and preach about repentance, but Jonah didn’t want to. He knew the journey would be difficult. So instead, he sailed to another city.
While Jonah was at sea, a huge storm caused the boat to overturn and as a result, Jonah ended up being swallowed by a whale.
He spent three days inside the whale and during that dark and lonely time, he reflected deeply on his life and circumstances.
At the end of the three days, Jonah admitted to himself that he had avoided responsibility in his life, specifically by not honoring God’s request that he sail to Ninaveh. He decided that he wanted to turn over a new leaf, beginning with facing up to the difficult task God had asked to do.
Eventually, the whale beached itself on the shore. Jonah was expelled from its belly, and he then went on to successfully complete God’s task.
The “belly of the whale” stage in the hero’s journey is the true beginning of your client’s metamorphosis.
At this point in the hero’s journey, your client has begun a new endeavor and is in the process of a dramatic paradigm shift. This is a totally new world for him or her!
This period of time can feel uncomfortable or challenging at times. Your client may start to feel fear, doubt or uncertainty about their next steps, and in some cases even be tempted to give up on their dreams.
A great way to think about this stage of the journey is that the “new world” your coaching clients find themselves in is actually a new way of thinking about the world.
And the good news is that, with the help of your coaching, your clients can repattern their thoughts and habits so that they feel more self-confidence as they navigate through these uncharted waters and move toward a freer, fuller, happier life they love living!
Just as with any challenge or adversity, being in the belly of the whale can help your client become the next, best version of themselves.
To have a “belly of the whale” experience generally involves intense soul searching in the face of a very difficult task.
This soul-searching experience will transform your clients’ character, strengthen their resolve and provide them with the courage and inner fire necessary to overcome serious obstacles.
They will then be able to overcome the challenges that before, they were afraid of and unprepared to handle successfully.
You can support your clients in making these changes through what I like to call “brave thinking.” When you help your clients adopt a brave thinking mindset, it may surprise you just how quickly and easily they can accomplish their goals and dreams!
A Brave Thinking Mindset
So now, let’s take a look at a few of the ways you can engage your clients in brave thinking in order to embrace the inevitable discomfort that happens while undergoing transformation.
Assure your clients that discomfort and fear are normal.
Transformation is rarely easy. Growth requires some stretching and discomfort, and almost everyone feels some fear when they start to take bold action toward new life paths and endeavors.
Even highly-successful people feel fear regularly!
But one of the most powerful traits that highly-successful people possess is the ability to move confidently in the direction of their dreams in spite of discomfort and fear.
They feel contractive feelings and emotions, but they allow the desire to achieve their dream to be greater than the challenges of attaining it, and the emotions that accompany those challenges.
When seeking to create a life your clients love living, the key isn’t to eliminate discomfort and fear – it’s to support them in understanding that these emotions can be their motivators and guides, not their anchors!
Remind your clients again and again that everything they’ve ever wanted is on the other side of their comfort zone.
Most everyone knows exactly what’s going to happen in their safe zones. The fear of the unknown will keep your clients stuck for as long as they stay there.
But you can tell your clients that almost everything is unknown. No one ever knows what could disrupt their schedules tomorrow. But your clients can know exactly what they plan on doing.
The more comfortable your clients are with exploring new abilities within themselves, the more aware they will become of just what they are capable of. They never know until they try.
Remind your clients that getting used to life outside their comfort zones takes time, effort, strategy and determination. But with a solid plan in place and the courage to take it forward, their results can be extraordinary.
Encourage your clients to stay focused on the vision of what it is that they would love, not what they think they can have or what may or may not have happened in the past.
As you help your clients move toward creating lives they love living, it’s very important to make sure they remain focused on the results they want to see.
Ask them questions such as:
- Do you fear that the goals and dreams you have now won’t come true because of the ways you’ve procrastinated or given up on them in the past?
- If you could have everything go your way, what would that look like?
- If you felt no fear, doubts or insecurities, what’s the next action you would take to achieve your goal?
Many people struggle to achieve their dreams because of their mindsets. It’s their way of thinking that keeps them stuck.
Keeping your clients focused on their vision for their future keeps their attention and emotions aligned with what it is that they desire to create.
Holding their vision in their mind helps them to magnetize what it is that they want, and it also helps them stay happy and healthy as they continue along their hero’s journey.
The beginning of transformation
By teaching your clients how to shift their thinking, entering into the belly of that which has swallowed them can result in a beautiful transformation.
When your clients are able to think in such a way that they can objectively look within themselves, to confront those very things that have been holding them back from realizing their greatest dreams despite discomfort or fear, they can experience tremendous growth.
Remember, the goal is not to simply ignore or eliminate your clients’ discomfort or fear entirely – this would be impossible!
But you can instead give your clients the tools to make friends with the the discomfort they experience and voice of fear in their minds, reminding them that it doesn’t control them unless they let it.
When your clients are motivated instead of stifled by discomfort or fear, they can embrace change and move toward the life of their dreams.
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