One Sunday afternoon my five-year-old daughter decided to draw a butterfly. They’re her favorite subject to draw right now, as her imagination and coloring box have no limits and she can therefore curiously color infinite variations of the butterfly. But on this particular day, she opted to draw an “angry” butterfly.
My husband asked her, “Why an angry butterfly?” and she declared, “Because it’s funny!”
I heard this and immediately thought to myself, “I wonder how many pissed off butterflies are really out there!”
We assume that the butterfly, in all its beauty and glory, must be all aflutter with its new ability to fly straight out of the cocoon. But not long before this great flight occurs, the butterfly was just a little caterpillar crawling through the grass. What once was a simple bug emerges from the goo and confinement of its chrysalis as a breathtaking creature so many claim as their spirit animal or a lucky charm.
Yet in that moment with my daughter I wondered, how many angry butterflies might there be? And why might they be angry?
The transformational story of the butterfly has been hanging out in my mind and in my teaching rhetoric for the past year. It seems everywhere I turn, I have a friend emerging from their metaphorical chrysalis as a metaphorical butterfly, experiencing a very literal life transformation.
They have been in the dark cocoon of the transformation phase, reforming in mushy goo for months, sometimes years before officially coming out as a fully-formed object of affection: the butterfly.
Change on any level can be challenging. Simply put, it is new… and we don’t always know howto deal with the new. It’s scary and confusing. It’s enough to make any butterfly angry!
Imagine you’re a caterpillar one day and you crawl onto a leaf suddenly cocooned thinking you are just going to take a nap, but instead the life you know vanishes before your eyes.
Everything changes and at the end of the transformation when you emerge from the darkness and goo, you are no longer a caterpillar who once lounged on leaves and in grass. Instead you now have to fly!
But you didn’t realize you were afraid of heights. You didn’t realize you’d have to take a risk, a literal leap of faith. Now you have to overcome this fear, and it feels like you are always free-falling until the wind catches you and you learn to flap your wings. In other words: you didn’t understand where your transformation was taking you, and you don’t know if you’re prepared to take on the challenges you now must face.
This can make for an anxious and pissed off butterfly.
You don’t arrive at a CrossFit gym one day with the expectation you are going to outlift and outrun everyone there, especially not if you have been encased in goo for the last year. You are going to have to stretch and grow the muscles needed to participate with the elite group of athletes who love to do this sort of thing every day.
I relate to these butterflies. I, too, recently went through a massive shift—a graduation, as I like to call it. And while I personally am not pissed about it, I’m fully aware of this new energy coursing through my life.
A few weeks ago, I performed private psychic readings at my yoga studio. While I was there, a fellow intuitive drew cards and read for me. I pulled a card with the word “resistance” on it.
Initially, I felt like I had pulled the wrong card. Then I intuitively read it for myself and realized my resistance, if there is any, is related to this new phase of my life. Often when we transform, we aren’t fully prepared for the new view and we try to move back into the safe softness of the known world, whether it be the goo of our own personal cocoons or the grass we enjoyed as caterpillars.
For me personally, I resist the transformation because I don’t want to fall into old, easy patterns. But with that thought came the word “surrender.” Instead of resisting transformation, I needed to surrender to it, allow the new energy to teach me how to be present in a new space.
This is where the angry butterfly effect comes in.
If you are feeling the effects of the angry butterfly, or like you’re on the verge of emerging from your cocoon, please take time to breathe. Remember that this is all new and you will need to stretch and feel your way into this new reality. Feeling panic and lashing out—being an angry butterfly—is a perfectly normal stage of transformation. But it must be temporary. You must surrender to the change, not resist it. Your butterfly can’t stay pissed off forever.
It won’t be long before you’re sucking down the nectar like a champ and dancing in the wind with your glorious wings and spectacular color. Until then, you are free to feel angry, confused, and anxious, but please also find some space for surrender and allow the new energy to teach you how to live in this new paradigm!