Choices April 2001
an e-newsletter for deliberately living people

April 2001
Volume II, Issue 4

"Why not go out on a limb?  Isn't that where the fruit is?"  Frank Scully, writer.


Note from Erica
Crossing the Threshold
Action Guide

Note from Erica

This month's newsletter focuses on my favorite step in the Hero's Journey, Crossing the Threshold from Ordinary World to Special World.  At this stage, the hero outwardly commits to the adventure with innate capabilities, some training (via the mentor), and a whole bunch of "fake it till you make it" courage.  The journey may start with only one step, but it will probably be the most nail biting, enthralling, and courageous step she takes on the entire journey.  I encourage you to go out on limbs, take educated risks, and grow!

Crossing the Threshold

Are you the hero of your own life, or the supporting character of someone else's story?  Who makes the choices in your life?  Who leads your life?

In the fifth step of the Hero's Journey,  we are introduced to a new character  -- the Threshold Guardian.  He is the gatekeeper to the Special World and the hero must not only interact with him in order to cross, but recruit the Threshold Guardian to his side.  The archetypal film examples of this character include the snooty maitre'de keeping the wrong society out of his establishment, the loyal secretary guarding her boss from unwanted visitors, and the best friend who protects the love interest from the well meaning but insensitive suitor.  The Threshold Guardian may seem harmless, "But on a deeper psychological level [Threshold Guardians] stand for our internal demons: the neuroses, emotional scars, vices, dependencies, and self limitations that hold back our growth and progress.  It seems that every time you try to make a major change in your life, these inner demons rise up to their full force, not necessarily to stop you, but to test if you are really determined to accept the challenge of change." (Vogler, 58)  This stage in the hero's journey requires the most courage as there is no turning back to the Ordinary World once the hero has crossed (committed to change).

We have all met a Threshold Guardian (parent, teacher, boss, friend), and we have probably played that role for others.  Threshold Guardians say things like:

"You can't make a living doing that."
"You're no good for her."
"I don't think you're ready for this."
"There is no way this will work."
"If you go forward, you will only hurt yourself and everyone you love."
Threshold Guardians may convince you to wait, abort the goal, or infuriate you.  It is the Threshold Guardian's job to make sure you really believe in yourself (whether they do or not) because the more you believe in your hero abilities, the greater chance of succeeding with your journey.

Next month:  Tests, Allies, and Enemies

Note: I will be switching gender pronouns (he/she) for every issue to keep the message inclusive for all.

Action Guide

Take a quiet moment to answer the following questions:

1. Have your crossings ever been physically manifested, or have they
been internal?
2. What did you give up to cross?
3. What external force helped you to finally commit to the journey?
4. Have you ever crossed the threshold unwillingly?
5. Have you ever crossed the threshold unknowingly?
6. How does the guardian make your crossing more difficult?
7. When has a guardian become an ally in your life?
8. How did you land on the other side?
9. How is crossing the threshold like dying (metamorphosis)?
10. Who did you become when you crossed?

Extra credit:

Be on the lookout for Threshold Guardian comments in yourself and others.


What are your favorite hero stories?  Send your answers to
What is the meaning of your life?  What is your purpose?  How can you be a better you?
Let's find the answers together.  Call me for a free coaching session at 408-739-2975.


The Inner Voice of Love : A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, Henri J. M. Nouwen
Honoring the Self : The Psychology of Confidence and Respect, Nathaniel Branden
Boundaries, Henry, Dr. Cloud, John, Dr. Townsend
Guardian of the Threshold, Robert Myers, Pastel, artwork representing this stage
Comic Books and the Mythic Pattern, article
The Hero's Journey is viewed in the film, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
Weird Al music video "The Saga Begins"- parody on Star Wars

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(c) 2001, Erica Wang, Coach.  All rights reserved.