We all know that butterflies symbolize change, with their stunning metamorphosis from one creature to a completely different creature. They start off as leaf-munching caterpillars without much in common with grace or beauty, and then they transform into gorgeous gossamer-winged beings.
Did you know that to do that, they must first turn into a gooey mess? It’s true — what happens in the cocoon is that the caterpillar’s tissues break down into a puddle and then all of those cells reconfigure themselves into wings, antennae, and beauty. Pretty amazing when you think about it.
And that is why the butterfly symbolizes change — that in order to truly change, we must experience a little death or loss of the old and familiar in order to create the new. But change is not easy. While humans go through change on a regular basis, we have a psychological reaction to change, especially when the change is not of our choosing.
Emotional reactions to change typically include fear, anxiety, anger, sadness and denial along with hope, exhilaration, and happiness. While butterflies may not need stress management during their change, humans most certainly do.
If you are going through a change of any kind, it’s important to take care of yourself during the process. Whether you are doing “positive things” like going after your dream job or remodeling your kitchen, or you are experiencing “challenges” like dissolving your romantic partnership or declaring bankruptcy, you need to tend to your emotional wellbeing.
Think about the caterpillar’s process:
- she prepares by bulking up for the transition — not that you should go on a binge, but at least prepare your body by attending to nutrition and fitness
- she finds the perfect place to hang out while everything is going down — find a place that brings you comfort, security, and a good view
- she let’s the change happen — embrace the change so you can be fully present for it all — don’t numb yourself with media or alcohol
- she emerges slowly and gives herself time to adjust to her new self — you should too
Change is a wonderful thing — even when it is hard and difficult or brought on by force or tragedy. We are always being called (sometimes pushed) to becoming our best selves. So embrace your metamorphosis, take care of yourself in the process, and rejoice when the journey is complete.