By Robin Elliott
Just when the caterpillar thought it was all over, he turned into a butterfly.
We are schooled in the idea that growth is about activity and visibility and that to grow we need to be doing things and making things happen, that we need to be noisy. But if the caterpillar fights to take action when he is cocooned, he will disrupt the natural metamorphic process. If he emerges from his protective covering too early, he will be misshapen and ill formed. He will, quite simply, be an incapable and unattractive butterfly.
And none of us want that.
There is a place for, as I call it, quiet growth. The kind of growth that has us restricted and limited, that forces us to stay silent and inactive. It is this growth that is the very hardest of all, as it means we have to let go and trust that in the wider scheme of our life inactivity has its place. In a world that values activity and busyness above all else, it goes against the grain for us to stop. And if we can’t do it of our accord, it seems very often that something else will step in and do it for us.
My colleague lost her driver’s licence after her marriage breakup, limiting her ability to be out in the world for 3 months; a friend broke her leg; another became stuck in a foreign country for 10 weeks after a visa issue. These types of external events alter our reality and put the brakes on our usual modes of behaviour. They have us stop.
The act of stopping causes a pattern interrupt. If an obstruction blocks the path of a river, the water is forced to find new tributaries, a new course. If we stop, the same influences are at play and we are caused to give focus to new things. As the physical activity is lessened, our energies are released to go elsewhere and venture to new places.
I wonder what the caterpillar thinks when she is in the cocoon. I assume the ancient process of alteration is imprinted somewhere in her DNA and she naturally stops struggling and allows the cocoon to work its magic. She rides out the process and then at some preordained moment, fights her way out of cocoon and emerges, not just new, but completely transformed.
We just need to learn to do the same. We need to respect that change is two-fold and also recognise that quiet change is often far more difficult than noisy change. But as the caterpillar knows, quiet growth is ultimately the most rewarding of all.
It seems that change is an inside-out deal. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “things don’t change, we do”.
3 TIPS TO MANAGE QUIET GROWTH
Counter intuitive I know. It’s so difficult to stop in the midst of confusion or pressure but relax you must, even if that only means taking a deep breath. The key issue is to stop what you’re doing, pens down. Allow the mind chatter to pause. And at that moment, you go to tip 2.
2. CHECK IN
Why might this be occurring? What part have I played? Have I in fact set this up? Rather than resist your external situation, try to look at it, consciously, and ask what it might be trying to tell you. Self-enquiry can set you free from your limitations.
3. GO WITH IT
When the time is right, you won’t be able to do anything else other than what you’re doing. Learn to go with the flow, whether that is focused activity during a period of noisy growth, or contemplation and rest during quiet growth.
Robin Elliott. First Published on www.quickbites.co