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  • Writer's pictureCadence Moffat McCann

What can we learn about growth from a butterfly?

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."

- Maya Angelou

Did you know caterpillars completely dissolve their bodies when they go into the cocoon? They become utterly unrecognizable and basically form into mush before they start taking shape as a butterfly.

Perhaps less well-known is what happens to butterflies shortly before they emerge from the cocoon. It actually takes some time for them to break through the walls of their gestational home. They need to strengthen their wings so they will be able to fly. If someone, or something, came and cut the cocoon before they were ready, their wings would be underdeveloped and they would never be capable of taking flight.

These are two fundamental teachings about growth from the butterfly.

First of all, in order for you to become who you're really meant to be, you have to let go of who you think you are. This is the essence of a soul journey. It involves letting go of a false sense of self to allow yourself to become rooted in a more authentic way of being, even if you don't yet know what that means. This are the first teaching of the butterfly, surrender.

Secondly, personal growth is hard. It's meant to be that way. If it were easy, it would not have a long-lasting effect. It would be too tempting to give it up and go back to how things had been. But, when you literally (or figuratively) push through something that is challenging, you strengthen your muscles and start to take shape as a new being. If you tried to speed up the process, you would emerge before you were ready and not be able to fully express yourself. This is the second teaching of the butterfly, perseverance.

If you find yourself getting frustrated with your process or wishing it would happen faster, remember these teachings. Find ways to accept where you are at, offer yourself compassion, and trust that you are on your journey and will someday be able to fly.

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