Last weekend I attended the third of four Total Unfinished Woman retreats. Based on the work of Joan Anderson, these events were created by my friend Ann Irr Dagle as a way for women to come together to Retreat, Retrieve, Repair, Regroup, Regenerate, and Return.
At one point, Ann read us “the butterfly story.” I am not sure where it came from originally, and I found several versions online. I will recount it here in my own words:
One day, a man discovered a butterfly chrysalis with a small opening in it. He sat and watched for several hours as the butterfly struggled to force its body through that tiny opening.
And then the butterfly was still. It did not appear to be making any progress. The man thought that it had gotten as far as it could, and it would not be able to go any further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. With a pair of scissors, he cut open the chrysalis and the butterfly emerged.
Its body was swollen and its wings were tiny and shriveled.
The man continued to watch, expecting that at any moment, the butterfly’s wings would open, enlarge and expand, and its body would shrink.
It never happened! The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
Although his intentions were good, what the man did not understand is that the small opening in chrysalis, along with the butterfly’s struggle to get through it, were designed to force fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the chrysalis.
So yeah, I get it. I’ve changed my mind. Struggle is good*. Vitally good! I value struggle. I welcome it. On some level, I think I have always felt this way, but three things stopped me from understanding it:
I was struggling for something I didn’t want, but thought I should.
I didn’t know what I was struggling for.
I didn’t know what my struggle style was (more to come on this in a later post).
But here’s the thing: my gut knew. And so every time I set a goal or strived for something that wasn’t inline with my instinct (I’ve done that way too much my life), my body went into resistance mode. And being resistant was not good for my body/mind/spirit. Resistance made me fat and unhappy and unfulfilled.
*I maintain my assertion that if you tend to be someone who views everything as a struggle – with a “life is hard” attitude – that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Have you ever changed your mind about something you thought you’d never budge on? Are you willing to struggle for something if you know it’s what will allow you to fly? What are you not willing to struggle for? Do you ignore your body/mind/spirit when it goes into resistance mode?