“They’ve made their bed, now they can lie in it” is a common phrase. In my experience, it’s said grimly of someone who’s made a decision the speaker disagrees with.
Last weekend I was at a Jean Shinoda Bolen workshop, “Goddesses in Every Woman”, which explored how Greek mythological stories and archetypes influence us today.
Procrustes was mythological character who invited travellers to stay with him on their way to Athens.
(To the ancient Greeks, Athens was the center of the world and the ultimate destination. In Jungian psychology, it represents worldly success.)
After Procrustes’ guests enjoyed a pleasant meal, he would invite them to sleep in his special bed. If they were too short, he stretched them; if too long, he chopped off parts of their legs or feet.
There are various ways we choose our path in life. Often our upbringing or societal values lead us in a direction that may be at odds with our unexplored or unembraced personal values or talents.
Sometimes it means we have to stretch ourselves unnaturally or cut off parts of ourselves to reach some worldly sanctioned success.
If there are ways you have unnaturally stretched yourself to fill the role of “good son/daughter/father/mother/employee/boss” or had to deny or to cut off dreams in order to “fit in”, then you are lying in a Procrustean bed.
And it’s not easy to find rest there, even if you get to “Athens”.
Please remember no choice must be forever. The happiest lives are lived in accord with personal values and unique talents–whether or not they line up with one’s upbringing or society’s values.
May we choose our beds and destinations wisely, and remember that we can choose and re-choose our path,