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The Hero Journey Manifesto

We are a collective of therapists, clinicians, designers, researchers, and gamers who are on a mission to make the world kinder by increasing access to mental health.

We are building a group-based model of mental health support, rooted in in connection, belonging, and growth, so that anyone is able to become the hero in their own healing journey.

This is a living, dynamic Manifesto that contains sayings, advice, and beliefs that represent our perspective on mental health.

The Hero Journey Manifesto

You are not broken. You are not alone.

Depression and anxiety are normal responses to a broken society that devalues our human needs and our sense of belonging, reminders from ourselves that we are worth so much more. We buy things we don’t want, to impress people we don’t like, to fill the gaping hole within ourselves that was torn open by early messages that we are not enough.

When life gets hard and we get hurt, it’s tempting to put on lots of armor to protect ourselves.

But it’s hard to feel hugs when you have armor on. We distract and numb ourselves with all sorts of coping mechanisms to avoid the discomforts of life. We push back, we lash out, we isolate, we hurt ourselves and others, and we try to dull the pain. Very often, those coping mechanisms become addictions. But you aren’t an addict, you are a human in pain. Start there at the root. Start with compassion.

All emotions are important.

Most are beautiful, some are difficult, but they all carry messages about things that are important to us. Don’t overanalyze and don’t stay too long in the feeling. Feel the feels. When the feelings are too difficult to bear, just focus on the simple things: first breathe, then try to move your body. It’s okay to ask for help. You’re going to be okay.

Sometimes our brain chemistry works against us and makes us sick.

Very often, our psychological, social, and physical environments and the thoughts/beliefs that we hold about them, are the things that harm us. Stress is a message that something in your life isn’t right and needs your attention. Don’t get caught in the “worry webs.” You’re not broken. You just need some tuning.

Part 2: The Growth

You are a human, who needs support sometimes.

We are each on our own journey of healing, yet we can walk those journeys alongside each other. Be your own hero – the hero that you needed when you were younger and be the hero who you can look up to now. Everyone struggles from time to time. It’s okay. Keep going. You are capable of a lot more than you think – you can endure even more. Courage is the starting point. Growth is always possible – resilience is the key. You can’t shame yourself into being better.

Everyone is on their own journey.

We are all equals, we are all imperfect, we are all beautiful. Life is about people and the experiences you create with them. It’s okay if you don’t know where you’re going. Most of us don’t. Go find your people and create your joy, together. Surround yourself with people who remind you that you are enough and reciprocate their kindness copiously. Don’t do it alone.

The stories we tell have the power to heal.

But they also have the potential to break us. Be careful which story you choose to tell. The things you say to yourself matter; practice choosing to say the kind and loving versions of the story. Anxiety and excitement are the same neurochemical pathways; what makes it one or the other is what you think of the situation. When possible, reframe as excitement.

We all hurt and we all experience pain — that’s one of the unavoidable truths of life.

Don’t wish for an easier life, wish for the strength to fully embrace the one you have, both the good and the bad. Build the courage to endure the pain and let the grief open you up to immense love. You’re human. Weave your experience into the shared tapestry of human existence, it might give someone hope down the line. When the scars begin to fade with age, let’s trade stories and celebrate them together.

Your life is a verb, not a noun.

You are not static or unchangeable. You are being you, doing you, and living your life in each moment as a constellation of all your past decisions and all of your future possibilities. This is your life. Do what you love and do it often. Hold onto the people and ideas that you love and give you joy. Have the courage to change the things that hold you back. Share your joy with others and whenever you get the chance, lift others up.

You leave a permanent mark in the world just by living in it.

You demonstrate your values through your actions and intentions. Each action that you do, and each thought that you focus on, is a testament about what you value. Choose those values carefully. Define what success looks like for you, then go after it. Define what healing means for you, then prioritize it. This is your journey and you get to decide which quests to explore. Ignore the haters, even in your own head. Give yourself permission to be happy.

You only get one body, one mind.

Nourish and cherish it. Thank your body for doing its best and take care of it like you would care for someone you deeply love. Trust yourself. No one escapes childhood without some form of trauma, but that does not diminish the intensity of your experience. Learn from your story, figure out what makes you, you – then celebrate it all. Life is too short and too valuable for anything less.

Part 3: Becoming a Hero

Give back when you can. Leave the world a better place than when you found it.

Life is short, really short. Focus on what is important to you. Live your dreams, find others who share your values, protect your integrity, and share your passions. Failures and disappointments are, unfortunately, part of the process. You will stumble and get hurt, but that just means that you’re learning and growing. Trust that you can get back up and keep going.

Our differences are our gifts to each other.

Always start with appreciation and curiosity. The diversity that we each bring to the community is what makes this special. We value each person’s uniqueness and perspective, and as such, we do not stand for any hate, discrimination, or biases within our community. Celebrate, uplift, and protect each other.

Hold space for each other’s grief and struggle because it is a rare privilege of trust.

But do not get caught in the negativity. Spiral upwards — help each other lift up and move forward towards growth. Speak truth to your pain but avoid inflicting it on others. Open but don’t wallow. Process, don’t dump. Use your lived experience and story to connect and build trust, but don’t assume that your tools will work for others. We are each the expert in our own lives, and our own stories.

Listening to each other’s stories allows us to broaden our perspectives and understand we are not alone.

Stories lend a helping hand without telling us what to do or how to think. Sharing our stories allows us to let go of and integrate our past in order to heal and grow in our present. Listening is love. Attention is care. Speak the truth, to others and especially to yourself. Trust yourself to be able to hold the truth, to have the courage to share vulnerably and openly, and to give others permission to do the same. Be real. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be brave.

Most importantly, be kind.

Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Extend the first olive branch and be the first to express love. In every interaction, try to practice empathy, generosity, and uplift. Learn and grow. Find people who will celebrate you. You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the whole ocean in a drop. Your wounds and broken parts are where the light enters you. Bring your whole self – the authenticity, the vulnerability, the pain, and the joy. The weird and awesome, the hopes and the fears. Every part of you is important and every part is welcome.

Be your own hero. Follow your healing. And let’s walk our own healing journeys – together.
Welcome to the Hero Journey Club 💙
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