We’re all the heroes of our own stories, but the heroes we admire in literature and on the screen find themselves undergoing spiritual and emotional transformations more often than they find themselves using the bathroom. If all of us are heroes, each going on a continuous, limitless, and recursive journey throughout the stages of our lives, then where are you in your journey? How does it relate to your current struggles? What lessons are here for you to learn?
What waits for you beyond the threshold of the unknown, and what does it take to get there?
The crossing of the threshold is perhaps the most definitive part of anyone’s journey. We can all vividly picture Alice walking through the looking glass, or falling down the rabbit hole. The imagery is stark, and the symbolism is opaque. The crossing of the threshold stands out to us visually because every great journey has necessitated the crossing of a threshold, and the entrance into the unknown. Your journey is no different.
If you are crossing or preparing to cross a threshold in your journey, you might still feel trepidation. You may have found a mentor, faced your denial, learned what you wanted, and seen through the facade of self-illusion, but there is even more preparation to do.
Before you cross this threshold, you should know where you are, what you need, and where you’re going.
You will finally begin learning to see the world around you truthfully and compassionately. You will start to recognize the necessary elements for your success and happiness, and use them as your guiding light through the shadows of uncertainty. Crucially, you must be able to envision your destination, and the oncoming path ahead of you. Keep clear in your mind what you are working towards: a life that you love.
As you stand on the threshold of your journey, you might feel a sense of danger.
As human beings, we are scared of the unknown, and it’s easy to get caught up in our own fight-or-flight response. It’s important during this time to be mindful of what you’re going through, and to be gentle, but uncompromising with regards to our sense of panic. It’s perfectly natural to be panicked, but it’s ultimately useless if you don’t know what you’re panicking over, and why. As you enter the unknown, it’s important to call upon the bonds you’ve made up to this point. Commune with the wisdom of your mentors, and bask in the comfort of your personal relationships. We are never on the journey alone, despite how it may appear.
Right now, you are a hero about to take the plunge into the great wild yonder.
You may feel, at times, like an ordinary average schmuck, but this is simply untrue. You could be anybody, but you have chosen to be somebody who strives to be better. And so you have become a hero standing at a threshold, and you are as far away from where you started as you ever will be. You have recognized the challenges ahead of you, and the feats of strength that they will require. In and of itself, a challenging task that required everything you had, and now standing on the threshold, the journey asks for even more. Your journey will ask more of you than you think you have, and the person you have become will gracefully surprise you.
After you have crossed the threshold, the uncertainty of the unknown will be replaced with the definitive uncertainty of a life well lived. You will become separated from the unhealthy and maladaptive fixtures of your old life. It will be chaotic and new, but you will be prepared to face the future. Consider the strength of steel: it is strong and reliable in a cool environment, but becomes malleable and tempered in the intense heat. The steel adapts to its new environment, and becomes stronger for the experience, like a traveller on a journey.
If you find yourself impatiently anxious as you stand at the threshold of your journey, it can be motivating to visualize some of the goals we outlined when we heard The Whisper. By picturing the actualization of the things we desire, we hack our brain into believing that our goals are achievable. This enables us to strive towards our goals confidently, even if our self-confidence falters.
Additionally, if you feel that your goals are murky or unobtainable, it can be instructive to revisit the task of outlining your goals for one, five, and ten years down the line. Perhaps going along your journey has changed how you perceive and prioritize your values, and setting that in stone with your goals will show you just how far you’ve come.
As you foster your consciousness into the type of adult you ultimately want to be, it’s vital to lovingly parent yourself with the Four S’s of Secure Attachment. In order to make the journey reasonably achievable, you need to be able to rely on yourself as a foundation. Here are the Four S’s, and some actionable steps you can take to bring more of each into your day-to-day life:
Physical safety is, of course, necessary for psychological growth, but emotional safety is just as important. When we feel emotionally unsafe, our bodies assume that we are under attack, and we act out of self-preservation rather than logic or compassion. You can foster an environment of emotional safety by trusting and letting others see your vulnerabilities. When our trust is honored, and our vulnerabilities are respected, we will begin to feel safe.
Security is a feeling of safety tempered by stability. It’s the voice in your mind that goes “Yeah, you’re safe now, but that’s happened before, and you still ended up getting hurt.” To feel more secure, you need to find ways to trust in yourself each and every day. Make a list of favors you do for yourself everyday, and give yourself the kind of care you may have neglected in the past by actually doing them! Security is safety over time, so with enough effort put into making your environment a safe one, it will eventually feel secure as well.
Every single human being kicking around this planet needs to feel seen. This doesn’t just mean the satisfaction of being heard and noticed by others, this is also the power that comes from seeing yourself truthfully. You can start by relying on the perceptions of your loved ones, like your family, friends, and mentors. Ask them where they feel your strengths are. Their answers might surprise you.
This is all about learning to tolerate the moment. Being soothed is as simple as doing things that make you feel better. When we engage in behaviors that soothe and restore us, like meditation, exercise, or by acting in alignment with our values, we nourish and take care of ourselves. You can also soothe yourself by booking an appointment with your therapist.
If you’re fortunate enough to work with your therapist through this step of your journey, here are a three coping skills you can ask for guidance with:
Letting go isn’t as easy as it may appear, and sometimes we find certain immutable aspects of our lives getting stuck in our craw. Radical Acceptance is all about choosing to acknowledge and accept the world around us, even if we don’t like or approve of it. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do to remove something painful, irritating, or upsetting from our lives, and it’s all we can do to accept it. Paying bills, growing up, and even being stressed are all awful experiences, but if you went through your life expecting never to have to face them, you would feel extremely disappointed.
Do you find yourself getting panicked and out of control during stressful situations? Do you struggle to de-escalate your own emotions? Are you seeking a greater sense of control over your fight-or-flight response? TIP could be just the stress management skill for you. As you might have guessed by the capitalization, TIP is an acronym that stands for Temperature, Intense Exercise, and Paired Muscle Relaxation. By performing all three activities, you engage the most reptilian and ancient quadrant of your brain into essentially a system reboot. This skill comes highly recommended to any travellers coping with an anxiety or panic disorder, as it can be a complete life saver.
Reframing Your Thoughts.
This is a CBT concept, so it’s best worked through with a professional, as it relies on seeing through the cognitive shortcuts that allow us to give in to panic and stagnation. Reframing Your Thoughts involves recognizing an unhealthy or maladaptive thought (such as “I’m so fat”), and replacing that thought in your emotional vocabulary with a more healthy one (such as “I accept my body”).
The journey is long. So long that you’ll be travelling along its path for the rest of your life, maybe more than once. The pace can be grueling, because we don’t choose when we need to grow, only if. The rewards are countless, endless, ceaseless, and priceless.
Is this part of your journey too rough for you too take alone? Click here to send our office manager, Alli, an email. She’ll help you get matched to your perfect therapist.
Counseling services at Integrative Counsel
Other mental health services Integrative Counsel provides are depression counseling, anxiety counseling, art therapy, improving codependency and boundaries, grief and life transition, accessing your body informed wisdom, and increasing mindfulness and awareness.
Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.