The Hero’s Journey: a framework to help kickstart your own narrative journey into the very heart of yourself

self detective
6 min readAug 23, 2020

A myth is a traditional story that has endured over many years because it still has something important to say to each new generation of readers.

Joseph Campbell, who studied folklore, believed that if you reduced all of the great myths down to their basic, active ingredients, you are left with one universal story.

This story is: an everyday person sets out on an adventure, encountering all sorts of obstacles (as well as assistance). They overcome all the hurdles in their way, find their goal, and return as a changed person — all the better for their journey.

You can see this narrative in such classics as Beowulf, The Odyssey, Jane Eyre, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars and The Lion King.

Joseph Campbell came up with many components of such a mythical journey. We will now adapt and apply these elements to our own self-discovery, to see if all of them, some of them, or even just one of them may be useful to our mission.

[NB. The journey doesn’t have to involve physical movement. It can all be done within the head and heart.]

Part 1: the story before the journey truly begins

i. An everyday life

You are sleeping, eating, working, playing, living your own normal day-to-day existence, when…

ii. Awareness

You become aware of ‘something’ in your life that needs your attention. However…

iii. Avoidance

You refuse to accept the importance of the ‘something’ because you are too fearful or you are too wrapped up in your everyday life, or you keep postponing the need to go on the journey. Until…

iv. A meeting of minds

You meet someone who gives you the support, the determination, the energy, or the belief you need to start your journey. So…

v. Leaving your everyday life

You set off on your adventure, and in doing so you soon find yourself in a new and uncertain land.

Part 2: The journey itself

vi. Hurdles on your path

Before long you find a number of obstacles in your way. These setbacks test your resolve to complete your mission. Thankfully…

vii. Help comes in many different ways

There are people, information, items, materials, tools that you can use to aid your journey, that help you to take a new approach. Then…

viii. Temptations to abandon your journey

You are distracted by things that are very tempting and that can provide you with instant (and temporary) satisfaction, if only you would just turn away from your chosen path. You overcome this challenge, only to come face to face with…

ix. The heart of darkness

The very thing that you came on the journey to do battle with. This is the moment you have been dreading all along. This is where you have to confront a powerful force. You cannot get through this ordeal, this crisis, without hard work and endurance, or without some hurt and pain, or without being emotionally (or physically) drained. So now…

x. Reaching enlightenment

You have successfully weathered the storm. You have come through the biggest challenge and you are now where you want to be. You are a changed person. You have more understanding, more wisdom, more knowledge. Everything from now on is going to be different. But don’t forget to collect…

xi. Celebration

Your reward. Be sure to acknowledge your achievement in getting to your goal. Be sure to make the most of the new landscape and all that it offers you and your well-being.

Part 3: The return journey

Here you have a number of choices. You can either:

xii. Go off in a new direction

Rather than return to your previous everyday life, you can now create a new everyday life somewhere else. Or, you may need to…

xiii. Move forward quickly in any direction

Escape from the after-effects and fallout of your ordeal. Or…

xiv. Seek help in getting back to your everyday life

Ask for more support from those who are willing to give their time. Or…

xv. Put your new experiences to good use

You can return home and use your newfound wisdom for another big challenging episode in your life. Or…

xvi. Be part of your old world and your new world

You decide to keep one foot in the everyday world you inhabited before you embarked on your journey, as well as one foot in the new world you created. Or finally…

xvii. Stay free

In overcoming your fears, you keep going, pushing more and more, developing more and more skills, going on more and more journeys in order to remain liberated and free.

My own narrative journey

Would it be useful to have the universal story breakdown as a guide to your own journey? Below is a template for you to write down some ideas for each section of your own story.

Part 1: My story before the journey truly begins

My everyday life:

My awareness:

My avoidance:

My meeting of minds:

Leaving my everyday life:

Part 2: the My journey itself

Hurdles in my path:

Help comes to me in many different ways:

Temptations to abandon my journey:

My heart of darkness:

Reaching my enlightenment:

My celebration:

Part 3: My return journey

For this section you have a choice, as to where you want to go next:

Going off in my new direction:

My escape:

Seeking help in getting back to my everyday life:

Putting my new experiences to good use:

Being part of my old and new world:

My new journey: