There is no separation between out there and inside. What repulses and attracts you in the public sphere offers key insights into the passions, fears, experiences and world issues that drive your inner process and outer actions. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the individuals you have chosen as your personal heroes and demons.
The public stage offers up a plethora of demons and heroes. These are the larger-than-life characters — politicians, athletes, entertainers, spiritual teachers, philanthropists, and others kinds of leaders and role models — that draw our attention and elicit our revulsion and adoration.
These individuals help us make sense of the world. We divide them into camps of good and bad, worthy and deplorable, and draw insights and lessons from their words and behaviors. Yet these people are typically strangers to us. We project meaning and story onto them, without truly knowing their characters, motivations and personal experiences.
Therein lies the gift for your personal growth and pathwork: the meaning and story that you layer onto your heroes and demons contain a wealth of personal insights; they are an outer mirror of your inner landscape.Exploring Your Personal Heroes and Demons
In this exercise, you are invited to explore your heroes and demons as a means of engaging your inner landscape, including the bigger story, themes and issues of your personal pathwork.
1. Pick a personal hero and demon to be the focus of your pathwork.
Choose individuals, current or historic, that you don’t know but that you greatly admire or loath. Go with whoever first pops into your mind or someone who has long been one of your demons or heroes.
2. Write one composition on your chosen hero and another on your chosen demon..
Make your essays free flowing explorations of your feelings and responses toward these individual (versus factual details), and include whatever else wants to show up on the page. Try to write the two essays as close together in time as possible.
3. Put your essays to one side for a few days.
Don’t think about or analyze what you’ve written. But do pay attention to dreams, spontaneous experiences or flashes of insight that come to you. Then read your compositions again, this time not focusing on your demon or hero, but instead on what your writings tell you about yourself and the bigger themes of what is happening in your life and in the world that profoundly matter to you.
4. Ask yourself probing questions that help you delve deeper:
Why did you pick these particular individuals? How do they speak to you about personal and world issues? What are the overlapping themes between your hero and your demon?
What are you passionate about? What terrifies you? What matters most to you? What are you willing to fight for and help change in the world?
What kind of a hero do you want to be? How can you be a force for positive change in your community?
What do you love in yourself? Dislike in yourself? What do you want to change in yourself? How are these qualities reflected in your hero and demon?
Who in your circle of family, friends and acquaintances remind you of your hero and your demon? Why? What personal experiences come to mind when you read your writing?
5. Summarize your introspective work in a few paragraphs that capture the bigger story, themes, issues and desire for positive change that underlie your personal pathwork with your heroes and demons.
To bring this exercise to a close, thank your chosen hero and demon. Though you may continue to adore and loath these individuals, recognize in your gratitude that they have been a teacher and guide, offering a mirror into your inner landscape and deeper pathwork.
And then take the ultimate step forward: commit to becoming the hero you want to be on the public stage of your life and greater community.
Photo Credit: William White on Unsplash