During this video series for the Hero’s Journey, “Pretty Woman” has been referred to on a few occasions as it is a text book example of the Hero’s Journey. The majority of us have watched and empathised with the fairytale ups and downs as Vivian (Julia Roberts) moves through the Journey and lives with the elation and heartbreak. Coincidently (quietly, there are no coincidences!) “Pretty Woman” screened on TV very recently so I was excited to watch it again as I drew comparisons to our Hero’s Journey.
As I watched Pretty Woman with fresh eyes, it became clear that Edward (Richard Gere) was also on a Hero’s Journey. This was not obvious to me the first dozen times I watched the film as we are directed to become caught up in the fantasy Vivian is living out.
To most of us, Edward seemed so successful – wealthy, the world at his feet, handsome, commercially astute, a saviour to Vivian, albeit a little lonely – how many of us present to the outside world in this way? Edward was in fact, spiritually bankrupt.
During the journey, Vivian (and Edward) could not have survived the ride without the guidance of others in the New World people wiser in their own worlds, more experienced in some aspect of life in which Vivian (and Edward) lacked – and those people were Mentors. The Mentors were unexpected, largely uninvited yet their presence was timely and their wisdom generous and exact.
If you’ve ever experienced the synchronicity of a Mentor “turning up”, you’ll know exactly what I mean – it’s something quite magical and Mentors often only stay for a short time – provide the learnings required and move on.
In Vivian’s world, she had several Mentors – most notably Barney, Beverly Wiltshire’s Concierge and he introduced her to other mentors such as Bridget – the kindly shop assistant who unleashed Vivian’s inner style goddess. Each of her Mentors guided her to embrace her fear, saw more in her than she saw in herself and on occasion, gave her a swift kick to get her moving in the right direction.
More subtle and far more intriguing, was Edward’s Mentor….. Edward had an arrogance about him that saw him believe he was “better than” many, although inside he knew he was damaged and felt small. Edward’s walls of protection were high and strong, no vulnerability – cold in fact – letting no one in.
Edward’s Mentor showed through unlikely circumstances and taught him to collaborate rather than conquer. Softened him, called him on his bad behaviour (at which he bucked!) and set boundaries with him rather than walls – hard lessons for the self sufficient Edward.
Can you guess who Edward’s mentor was? His mentor was Vivian – the prostitute with the heart of gold. You too will have mentors that show up for you – importantly, will you recognise them?
The relationship between the hero and the Mentor is one of the most common themes in mythology and richly symbolic. It stands for the bond between parent and child, teacher and student, doctor and patient, God and man. Vivian knew she needed help and was open whilst Edward’s arrogance blocked his ability to initially see who was presenting to mentor him.
As you complete the activities below and Your own Hero’s Journey continues, keep your eyes and ears open for Your Mentor who is waiting in your wings….
HOMEPLAY: EMBRACING FEAR
PART 1 – BE CLEAR The following exercise will help you eliminate over-reactive behaviour caused by fears you’ve carried into your adult life from childhood experiences. As adults, we re-enact our childhood fears even though we dress them up in a variety of different ways. This very powerful exercise will help you to break down your fear and relieve the pressure that causes you to react, giving you more balanced choices. You may use this exercise repeatedly to embrace fears in your adult life and more importantly to identify and embrace the original source of your fears, which come from childhood. These are called core fears. To receive optimum value, it is important to allow your feelings to connect with your thoughts and memories during this exercise. When you respond to the various questions in this process, make sure you note when the instructions change from using your non-dominant hand to your dominant hand. You will receive more value from this process when you alternate hands.
To begin this exercise it is important for you to relax. This will help you to connect with your feelings. Think of a current situation in your life that causes you to feel anxious, fearful and makes you over-react. Then close your eyes and allow yourself to recall the situation and the feelings connected with it in as much detail as possible. Once you have done this respond to the following questions using your dominant hand.
1. What is the situation and how did you feel?
In order to lessen the intensity, you may now want to see what deeper lesson you can derive from the situation. It is usually something which gives you value in some way and has a positive intent.
2. Does the anxiety/fear in this situation drive you into fight, flight or freeze behaviour? Explain how.
To free yourself from this fear based reaction, it’s important to look at what this has cost you and the payoffs you are receiving now. The payoffs may be unconscious and ones that cause negative consequences. Cost: The cost is what you lose, give up or suffer (physically, mentally or emotionally) to keep the behaviours alive. It is the price you pay for maintaining it. Payoff: The perceived advantage to you in keeping certain emotions, behaviours and beliefs alive. Your payoff is your justification for maintaining the behaviour/emotion/thought.
3. What has this cost you and what payoffs are you receiving from these behaviours? Be specific.
4. What are the consequences of your reactive/fearful behaviour? What impact does this have on yourself and/or others?
PART 2 – BE HONEST Negative and reactive behaviour usually comes from childhood patterns. The grooves of these patterns are deep and their melodies play out in our adult lives. As adults we have denial/ignorance about our patterns and can be quite upset when we discover we have been ‘playing the same song’ for most of our adult lives.
In order to examine this fear more deeply, go within and ask your inner child or the most vulnerable part of you to take you back to your past and find a fear from your formative years, one that feels familiar to the adult fear you are examining today. Allow yourself to emotionally get in touch with your core fear.
Once you have a recollection of your childhood fear, ask yourself the following questions and respond in your non-dominant hand.
5. When did this fear originally occur and what happened?
6. What beliefs were formed from this incident? (Consider beliefs about yourself as well as others)
7. What behaviours (usually self defence mechanisms) did you adopt in order to feel safe or protect yourself from feeling the fear?
8. Specifically how have these self defence mechanisms continued to grow and form in your adult life/relationships?
9. Tell your fearful child in your own words, I am here to help you, but you have to let go and let me take charge. Then ask the child, ‘Are you willing to trust me?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Why not?’ (Listen to what your inner child has to say and write it down).
Respond to your child in a loving manner. Do something comforting and then say goodbye.