Resisting Change

How to become a butterfly

Change is hard - we know this, people say it all the time. But if you want anything different out of your life, change is the only way to get there. Period.

The trouble is, we often try to skip over the actual change part. We either avoid change altogether by staying in our comfort zone, or we try to leap straight to the end result. We don’t want to do the messy work in between, we don’t want to risk getting lost on the way, and we certainly don’t want anyone to see us flail.

Many people liken transformative changes to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, for very obvious reasons. The retreat that I attended (and later worked at) on the coast of Spain was even called “La Crisalida,” a reference to the caterpillar’s “chrysalis” which is the cocoon in which all the change takes place.  

So what we see as an observer is the caterpillar to start, then a funny shaped pod hanging from a branch, and then a beautiful butterfly. What we miss is the mess inside the chrysalis. It’s gross, and I am not a huge fan of caterpillars or butterflies, so I won’t go into too much detail – you can google it. But I’ll tell you it’s messy, and the caterpillar-almost-butterfly becomes extremely vulnerable to the elements, hence the protective pod.

When I first read about this I was at La Crisalida, in the midst of my own change, truly in my own protective space where I could be vulnerable and allow myself to transform. And having already begun the process of change myself, there was one part of the caterpillar’s story that really struck me: resistance.

When the caterpillar first enters his pod (let’s just say it’s a guy caterpillar), he doesn’t know what he’s in for. Despite the years and years of butterfly evolution, he seems surprised when new, foreign cells begin to develop on his body. Although these cells lead to his biological destiny, he is still programmed to protect himself and he resists them like crazy. The caterpillar and these cells battle back and forth: he fights them off, and they come at him harder. He finally surrenders when he cannot fight back any more, the cells take him over, and he ultimately becomes a butterfly.

This resonated with me because I felt like the changes I wanted in my life kept smacking me in the face until I finally surrendered to them. I fought them off because the process felt foreign to me, much like the caterpillar’s cells. I knew where I wanted to get and didn’t think these steps were necessarily the way to get there. All my reason and logic kept pulling me back to what I knew and away from the unknown. I wanted to just become my new self, to go straight from caterpillar to butterfly, and I thought I knew how to do it.

But I had to surrender to the messiness too. I had to retreat to a protective space (be it physical or emotional), allow myself to break down, and let the change take over. I had to trust the process and go through all the steps, even when they didn’t make sense. Scariest of all, I had to risk people seeing this mess, because I don’t have the biological capacity to spin myself into a pod.

And you know what – I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The time I spent transforming was what taught me who I am, what I am capable of, and who would stand by me regardless of any apparent flailing. I can see now that every last step was necessary for my growth, and interacting with the world throughout was a huge part of the process. The bottom line is: the mess was the change; I simply had to move through it.

So if you’re where I was – a change smacking you in the face – I beg you, let it. The steps might not always make sense to you at the time; sometimes you might not see any steps at all. But you have to brave it. You have to be a little vulnerable. You have to abandon your old logic, expectations and assumptions about how it’s supposed to look, and trust the process. Surrender. And then brace yourself, get super excited, and don’t stop til you’re a butterfly


Wanna know what steps I took to get through this change I keep talking about? Let’s get on the phone to see if my roadmap could work for you, too.

What change seems to keep barkin at your door?? Share in the comments below!

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