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Hero’s Journey – Step 4 – Crossing the First Threshold.

Crossing the Threshold gives the image of a point of no return, or entering into no man’s land. This is not so, it is going into a situation that you have not been before. This is akin to stepping out of your comfort zone. In some cases, if you are forced legally into a new situation then, Yes, there is no going back. But putting these semantics aside, it is frightening regardless. You are stepping into a place that you have never been before, a magical place, a place that challenges you with new people, new rules. 

These rules are not in the real world, the world you came from. these new rules are not really told to you yet some are. On a hole, you need to find them out for your self. It is daunting walking into an arena where you do not know the rules for the first time. If you play sport it is the same. as soon as you walk into that arena the rules that apply on the sports ground is not the same as in the real world and visa versa. 

On a side note. I have asked a lot of people about what their interpretation of a threshold is. Just take a moment before you read on what you think is a threshold?

Some of the answers that I have received from clients are:-

  • It is a point of no return
  • It is the edge of what is possible and what is not possible.
  • It is a barrier that we push against, like the speed of sound was
  • It is a boundary separating two states, like the threshold of space or something is on the threshold of tipping.

All of these are good definitions, but I would say that they do not give the word full justice to it’s meaning. The last statement is the closest to what it is. Thresh which is the straw that you gather from the fields, and Hold which is to hold something in place. The word is made of two words jammed together. The carpet was not a luxury available to us poor commenters. So we would weave the staw together at form a mat covering for the floor to keep us warm during the winter months. Thus as we say that we step into a room, in those days we had to step over a board that held the straw in the room. That board was there to prevent the thresh from becoming tattered and inadvertently kicked into the adjoining room. That board was called a threshold.

So for my clients, walking into a Detox or Rehab facility to get off drugs and alcohol. The threshold is a very real threshold. It is the door into the real. Unfortunately for some clients, it is a point of no return as the alternative is going to prison, or losing their children to the State. The fear that grips them is the same fear that we have when entering into a new job. Yes, the rules of the job like the at rehab are new and we do not really know what is expected of us. The people are new, you do not know what personalities there are and which person you can trust, who are ladder climbers, who are power trippers, and who likes to joke around. We will talk more about the people later posts about the Hero’s Journey.

Interestingly, there was a Doctor that I worked with that did a study at our rehab unit, Dr Graham Wersly that used the K10 on clients at the start of their journey and again at the end of their journey with us to measure the level of distress that client experience of coming into the unit and then again exiting the unit.  The results were somewhat as expected, their fear of leaving the unit was greater than entering the unit, however, the fear was greater for females when a T-test was done on the score. I wish I had the research to give you the statistics, all I remember is that the difference between males and females were statistically significant. This too, I shall talk more about under the posting about the Refusal to leave/ The second Threshold.

What happens when you cross the same threshold more than once for the same thing?

There are two reasons.

First is that you like a magical place, it is like coming home. You need or like the place more than you like your normal world. So let’s use real-world magical places to explain this. I like going out on my motorbike, this is a place I like to visit to get out of my real-world. By starting the engine I cross the threshold. I get onto the road. The road does not have the same rules when walking down the footpath to the shop. There is no destination there are only the rules of the road that I need to obey. The consequences of disobeying those rules are either being booked by the cops (lose of licence) or death. Simple really. I need to treat every other car as a potentially not seeing me so I need to concentrate. A bit like rock climbing – Concentrate or die. This puts me into the present, I do not worry about the future and I do not get depressed about the past. Another scenario is that the person finds the magical world easier than the real world. This is why people like prison more than free life or become Rehab hoppers. The responsibility of life is not placed on them. The obligations of paying bills and looking after a home and a job are way too much for them thus they look for an institution to look after them.

The second is more serious.

Often when a person has not learnt a lesson and the issue in the person’s life still is having an impact on the person. This is where a repetition of the lesson must take place. and more often than not the journey becomes harder on that person. Again let’s look at this in a real-world scenario. School or Adult education comes to mind first. If the person did not do their studies and did not do well in their assessable, they will need to repeat the year or unit respectfully. 

Alternatively, there are those personally journies that people have not investigated their life, attitude or behaviour. People that are constantly in and out of relationships, may have not understood why the same thing happens over and over again. It is possible that that person to be making the same thing all the time expecting different results. It is not that different from those that want to give up some style of substance abuse but do not change their passion or values. The rest of the Hero’s Journey addresses that change of attitude, approach and values. 

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