A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.
The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings.
The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shrivelled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Life's way of forcing 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 cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Remember: nature needs no help, no interference. There are processes of life, things we all go through. The struggles are a part of our journey and are preparing us for what awaits. They are preparing us to fly.
2017 was a year of lessons in self compassion.
Picture credit: The Virtues Project
I hurt a lot in 2017, and perhaps I have been hurting since 2011, or even before that, since 2000. I have suffered several losses, and before I can recover from one, the next one hits: a senior from school committed suicide, a close friend died from drowning, my grandmother's death, the man I love got married to someone else, my grandfather's passing, the loss of a dear colleague from a freak bike accident, the imminent closure of my beloved business, which led to the dismissal of my wonderful staff, that caused me to be hung over from guilt and shame. Eventually I was driven into depression. In the midst of all these losses, I continued to give of myself to the people and situations around me, without realising how thin I must have stretched myself. I was not even sure I was in depression, as it was not a "thing" yet, during that time. All I knew was that I was not truly happy, and I would have bouts of irritation and frustration, and a lot of insecurity. I was never truly excited or enthusiastic about anything, as I used to be, before the year 2000. Taking on responsibilities to lead seemed like a natural progression in what I was doing, and yet, the more responsibilities I took on, the more expectations I had of myself, the more weight and burden I felt. I equated responsibility as heavy, burdensome, tiring. Perhaps the moments I truly felt alive, was when I was involved in facilitation, when I felt that I was making a difference to someone else. I didn't notice the patterns then.
Picture credit: http://www.wisdomtoinspire.com/t/dalai-lama/4JgaBqWmt/when-you-think-everything-is-someone-elses-fault-you-suffer-a-lot
In 2017, I was forced to look and go deeper within myself, to search for the "dark side". I struggled; I did not understand why, and I resented the process. It hurt again, and it was so painful. I didn't understand why, and I retreated within, deeper into my heart, hoping to protect it, even though I was filled with tension, between who I may be and who I thought I was. I did not want to feel the pain, and yet, I felt it tremendously. I blamed the people responsible for teaching me how to feel, for inviting me to open my heart, and then crushing me with the torrents of emotion. I blamed me, for allowing myself to be manipulated, for trusting, and giving permission to get hurt again. It was through conversations with neutral parties, mindful friends, that I slowly healed. I learnt to be mindful to myself: to be able to acknowledge and accept whatever emotion I was feeling, to allow them to either gently wash over me and/or to come crashing down on me, wave after wave; to allow myself to experience each emotion fully. It took courage to be able to go through with the experience, as it called out to me to be vulnerable. And I have so constantly been told that vulnerability is a weakness. And now, I know otherwise. It took compassion, to myself, to be able to accept and acknowledge my own suffering, to let go of my own judgement, and seek to understand what I was going through. I do not need fixing; I only need to be heard with compassion, so that I can connect with my inner wisdom. I need patience, and gentle support. I was seeking happiness outside of myself, and now I know, happiness comes from within.