We’ve probably all had times in our professional and our personal lives when we’ve felt a bit stuck, like we’re walking through treacle. We’re frustrated because we’re not making progress.

It could be that this is just a pause, like a much-appreciated bench by the side of the path on a long walk. All we need is some time to catch our breath, gather our thoughts, take some refreshment and soon we’re back on track again.

Sometimes it’s more than that. It’s no longer a question of resting by the side of the path: you feel that you can’t find the path. Perhaps you feel that the usual ways of dealing with this (working harder; spending hours in the gym; keeping busy with family and friends) don’t seem to be as effective anymore. Maybe you’re feeling you’re not living up to your potential or that you’re not sure you’re actually doing or being what’s important to you.

If this is you, you’re not alone: there are many descriptions of this experience within literature, psychology and belief systems. It puts me in mind of a chrysalis ensconced within a cocoon.

In order for a caterpillar to be transformed into a butterfly, it must first enter the cocoon. Then – and I apologise if you are eating as you read this – it dissolves into a soupy liquid. Metamorphosis begins and the ooze becomes the organs, the body and the wings of the butterfly. Only by undergoing this process in the darkness of the cocoon will the caterpillar become what it was always intended to be.

If we feel that we’re in such a cocoon, it feels uncomfortable and maybe even rather lonely. Here are some thoughts I’ve had about that place:

Just as the chrysalis can’t go back to being a caterpillar, I need to stop focussing on what was and concentrate on what is and will be.

‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ – here in the cocoon, my old ways of working through issues don’t work. I need to take a fresh look at what’s happening.

If a cocoon is opened too soon, the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly will not happen. I need to wait a while and be patient whilst I work through what I need leave behind in order to take this next step.

Although the chrysalis goes through this process alone, we don’t have to. I enlist the help of my closest friends and my coach to help me notice what I’m missing, even if it’s right in front of me, and address what I’m avoiding addressing.

Whilst the process can be frustrating and uncomfortable, the end result is transformation: I’m reminded of that every time I see a butterfly flutter past.

Today’s pebble for you to turn over for a while:

Do you feel you’re in a cocoon right now? What’s the change you’re seeking?

What do you think?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?

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2 Responses to Chrysalis

  1. Roger Martini says:

    I identify so much with this. Life is all about transformation. I need to be transformed: I just don’t know into what! I need to allow this to happen (so it doesn’t get delayed and I miss years of being a ‘butterfly’) and I need to not rush it (so it doesn’t happen too quickly else my butterfly is weak and unable to fly.) This is a challenge, especially when those who have already gone through such changes have done so at their own pace, for their own transformation, for their own situation – and my situation is unique.
    What is the change I am seeking? I have not been able to put this into words. May be that’s the next step: to be able to describe the butterfly.

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