But who in everyday human life has time and space to wrap themselves into a chrysalis, ignoring all the intersecting parts of the personal and professional lives, and then emerge to fly away to a lovely new life, leaving all the mess behind?!
I think it is much more helpful to see our growth and development as like that of a snake – as we grow and expand the boundaries of our comfort zone we split open our old skin and a new one takes its place. It may be uncomfortable and even painful at times as we shed one skin for another but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it. The new skin will fit you better, and will be brighter and stronger, truly allowing you to shine, as you go forth into the world as a new improved version of you.
A new skin is not going to change who you truly are in your core, however it will enable you to build your strengths and focus on those aspects of yourself which have always been there but have been neglected and are now calling out to be nurtured.
There are 3 main challenges around developing your new skin:
1. What will it look like?
The first is knowing what you want your new skin to look like and feel like. You need to give yourself time to figure out what colours and textures suit you – use all your senses to imagine how you want your life in this new skin to look like, feel like, sound like. Immerse yourself in the kaleidoscope of possibilities and be open-minded to opportunities (see this blog if you’re looking for help in finding your direction).
2. How will others respond?
The second is not often talked about and this is the response of loved ones to the new emerging skin. Sometimes they may not be supportive, or may even actively try to prevent you from moving out of your comfort zone and into your new skin and I think it is important to consider why that may be.
A loving spouse may say “but I love you the way you are”, or proffer reasons such as family obligations why you can’t travel overseas for work, or attend a particular workshop. This may be because they feel threatened by the changes they see, and have a fear of losing you so they try to limit the changes you are striving for. This is when communication is so important so that you can explain what you need in your life right now, and sharing your vision for the future can allow them to give you the space for your own development even if they don’t really “get it”. This is where I think the emphasis on still being you, albeit with a new focus on your strengths which are the very best aspects of you, can really help – the snake in its new better fitting skin rather than a butterfly about to fly away!
It may also be that your new activities or way of being challenges the values of friends and family, for example perhaps they don’t feel comfortable with a woman speaking her mind or asking for money, whether it be for herself, her business or a charitable cause. In that case it may be that you have to accept that they hold different values to yourself and you each allow yourself to do things your own way.
3. How can I keep growing into that new skin?
Ultimately, pushing out the edges of your comfort zone and growing a new skin can be both exciting and scary so you need to be very clear on what you want to achieve, and have that vision firmly rooted in your personal values (click here for my e-book on exploring your values). This is essential to ensure that as well as not allowing other people to limit your capacity for growth you are also not limiting yourself with self-doubts.
Change is challenging and it is imperative that you look after your own wellbeing. Finding time for your own self-care and self-reflection may mean you have less time for the agendas of other people, which can cause some friction, especially if they have been used to having you at their beck and call so building a support network is crucial.
You may find yourself drifting away from certain friends as you seek out a tribe where you feel a greater sense of belonging. I am sure we have all had those friends who were great at a certain stage of our lives but with whom we no longer feel we have anything in common. Then there is the new tribe, who are the new people with whom we can discuss our newly discovered interests and ideas, who will challenge us to go further.
However hopefully you also have those family members and long-time friends who will support and encourage you through your personal growth. Remember that their intention is probably to protect you not to limit you, even if sometimes that is not how it feels! They may just need a little more explanation and time to come to terms with what you are doing.
And in the end just focus on how much better you will feel in a new shiny skin which really fits you! (until it is time to burst into the next one!!)
If you are struggling to find your way into your new shiny skin then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I love to work with people seeking freedom and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives.