The Butterfly That Refused To Be

A friend tagged me in a post today where she introduced her new butterflies and butterfly in the making that has yet to hatch. She mentioned that there would have been a 5th, but the caterpillar refused to enter the cocoon stage. It lived for about a week after the others had entered the transformative stage and subsequently died. She challenged me to find the life lesson in the butterfly that refused to be.

So the first thing I did was look up why a caterpillar would not form a cocoon. Research in bioconversion says this happens when a caterpillar cannot stop producing the juvenile hormone which maintains the caterpillar stage. Normally, as the caterpillar ages, the juvenile hormone decreases until it becomes so low that the transformation process is triggered, and the caterpillar forms a cocoon. However, there are some insecticides that affect juvenile hormone production, causing the caterpillar to continue producing it at the same level, never decreasing so that the metamorphosis stage is never triggered. Typically, these caterpillars will continue to eat until it can no longer grow. Once they can no longer grow, they will stop eating and eventually die.

There are no caterpillars that refuse to become butterflies, but there are caterpillars who have received an outside message that prevents them from growing past the stage they’re in.

Modern psychology talks about ones inner dialogue, your thoughts about who you are and what you can become, and have concluded it’s really just the internalized attitudes toward us from influential people. Those who’ve received positive affirmation feel empowered and believe they can flourish. Those who’ve received negative criticism feel inhibited, discouraged and their efforts often clash with a deep seated belief that they are not good enough to achieve the growth they desire. From my own experience, the worst part about having an Inner Critic is the thoughts usually seem reasonable, just trying to prevent you from humiliating yourself, when actually, it actively sabotages any movement toward personal and professional growth.

Challenging that voice and weeding out the false narrative, revealing the bedrock truth of who you are is the beginning of becoming who you were made to be. Start by naming your Inner Critic, mine’s is Phil, because it’s easier to identify those thoughts as not coming from me. Once I’ve been able to identify the negative critical thoughts as outside of myself, I can choose to reject the message others attempted to impart to me with a few choice words anyone who’s watched me write has heard me say out loud. Once I reject the incoming message, I can look within and find that I am wanted, I am capable, I am strong, I have most of what I need within me to achieve my goals and that which I do not yet possess I am able to acquire.

Some of us need outside help challenging the Inner Critic and undoing the damage internalizing negative criticism has caused, and that’s ok. In the case of the caterpillar, the outside interference would require a physical re-balancing of its hormones in order for it to progress toward it’s natural inclination. You are not weak for needing help, even if others who’ve experienced similar are able to manage on their own. What inhibits and then kills the caterpillar does not always hurt the rose.

You are capable. You are strong. You are so, so, SO loved. You matter. You were designed with good gifts to contribute to your community. People care. God cares.

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