The Butterfly and Us: A Symbolic Message

bright butterfly close up color

“Cocooning: The need to protect oneself from the harsh, unpredictable realities of the outside world” -Faith Popcorn

I want to start blogging about symbolic animals, objects, insects, etc, as a way to broaden my own interpretations of the world around me and encourage others to do the same. 

Not all messages will resonate with everyone, as everyone has different outlooks on everything we come across, and that is okay. For example, I have a love of dogs and see them as friendly, loyal, and goofballs. Someone who is scared of dogs may have different things that they associate them with such as scary, predator, and vicious. Same animal, different emotions. 

I personally believe we absorb so much information by observing and by connecting what we observed with what we’ve experienced. By combining these aspects together we can help guide ourselves to a deeper level of understanding of our inner and outer worlds. 

By having a deeper understanding we can start to pinpoint different areas of our lives, find old beliefs that may not serve us, open new doors to exploring our inner being, find new perspectives, and more.

The first symbolic post I wanted to write about was the butterfly. 

I believe, looking at life through the symbology of the butterfly can help us see what stage we are at in life. Sometimes we can get stuck in the transformation from one level of understanding and way of being to the next. Life is confusing and ever-evolving. With technology rapidly advancing it feels like we are always in a rush to get nowhere fast. 

We forget to slow down and enjoy the process of who we are becoming or fail to troubleshoot the areas of our lives that we need to change to get to where we want to go in life. 

Sometimes we get stuck in one area of our life because we are afraid to branch out and try something new. We create an inside comfort to block the outside world. This takes form in our own ideas, beliefs, those we hang out with, our interests, etc… we become comfortable, and yet we still feel stuck in our own type of cocoon. 

The Butterfly and US

The first stage of a butterfly, after hatching, is the larva (aka caterpillar). At this stage, all the caterpillar focuses on eating and surviving. 

I’m going to use the ages 1-12 in a human’s life to represent the caterpillar stage. Usually, this is the stage where you mainly depend on your parents or guardians to help guide you and teach you about life. Especially, for the upcoming years. 

The ages 13-35 I’m going to be using as the cocoon stage. This is a time of profound transformation, learning more about independence and responsibility, and developing into a young adult capable of surviving in the world. This is also the stage of dissolving outdated beliefs, ideas, and ways of life that are no longer relevant, etc…

Ages 36 and up represent the butterfly stage. By this time you have better control of your adulthood (though this is not always the case, as life is very complicated). As well as a sense of direction of what you want out of life, using your knowledge and experiences like wings of perception to get you to where you want to go in life. 

Sometimes we can get stuck in between the transitions from one area of life to the next. My hope with this symbolic explanation of the butterfly and us are to further pinpoint areas that may need to be healed or gone through so we can break through our cocoons and soar to new heights of our lives. That is if you are feeling stuck in an area. 

Please note these ages are not set in stone. Some people grow faster or slower than others. I just used ages I felt fit these transitions. These are my own interpretations. My own thoughts and ideas about the symbolic nature of the butterfly and us. Not to be taken as anything other than one woman’s thought process through her enjoyment of writing. 

Transformation and Transit

Like the butterfly, we go through many stages of transformation and transit throughout our life. In our early years of life, we learn how to walk, talk, and listen to those around us. Trusting others to guide us safely through life and teach us what we need in order to navigate through life in a healthy manner. 

When going through abuse in the early stages of life it can cause our transits to become harder, as opposed to someone who did not experience abuse and was able to grow up in a healthy home. 

Going through abuse or not having support in the early stages of life can cause:

  • Mistrust
  • Low-self esteem 
  • Anger and resentment
  • Confusion
  • A hard time identifying stability
  • Mood swings
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • A hard time making good decisions 
  • Trying to “fit in” even if it is harmful

The ages 0-12 are crucial in developing the foundation of our lives. When we come to the cocoon stage we may not have all the tools needed to start building our own cocoons in a healthy manner when we reach our teenage and young adult years. To me, the cocoon symbolizes the inner being we develop by watching and learning from others. 

When we don’t have what we need to develop a healthy inner being, we start looking for other things to build our cocoons with around our teenage and young adult years. This may be in the form of drug abuse, self-harm, toxic friends, toxic belief systems, and bad advice. Our inner world can turn into chaos as we try our hardest to protect ourselves from the outside world. 

Even those who do not go through abuse can still feel as if they do not have the proper tools needed to build their own healthy cacoon. This may be caused by old traditions that are taught that are no longer sustainable to live by. Outdated beliefs and ways of being can stall our development because we are not growing with the world, but clinging to the old way of life. 

Once inside our cocoons, we go through a series of transformations. This is a process of breaking down what was learned, learning new things about life, dissolving old beliefs, and getting ready to adapt to a new way of being in the world. 

Becoming too comfortable in the cocoon

The ages 13-35, to me, are all about figuring out what you want out of life, making mistakes that shape one’s unique path, learning to survive on one’s own, learning how to be part of a community, and going through what many call “dark night of the soul”, a process where one works on themselves as a whole. A time when we challenge ourselves to grow from unhealthy ways of being and learn to be more humble, compassionate, and grounded. 

However, sometimes we become stuck in the last part of the cocoon. After we start becoming comfortable with ourselves, our past and our present fear can creep in and muddy our future perspectives. 

We start to cling to the comforts we’ve built instead of letting them go after they served their purpose of healing. Especially if we have mental health struggles and/or trauma, this makes trusting in ourselves and others in general very hard. 

We may become stuck in the cocoon, defending it. Not realizing we need to let go in order to gain our wings to experience new areas of life. 

When you feel as if you are at a great place in life, but still feel as if something is missing or you keep dodging opportunities that would change your life for the better due to the fear of the unknown, you may be stuck in the cocoon. 

I view fear as the ego. The ego does not trust letting go. The ego still believes it’s a vulnerable caterpillar. It doesn’t realize it is time to break free from the cocoon. This is where having faith in yourself comes in. Faith and trust in oneself are what is needed when breaking out of the cocoon. It’s the last step. 

**When dealing with trauma or mental health it is important to talk with a professional to help you. Trying to face fears may trigger negative reactions and could set you back instead of going forward. 

Breaking Free

By the age of 36 and up, we have a better sense of direction, though it may not feel like it. (Do any of us really know what we are doing or do we just do what has been taught by society?). This is hopefully around the age at which we break free from our cocoons. (Though this is certainly not the case for everyone.)

I view breaking out of the cocoon as us breaking through all fears we had about life. Facing the unknown head-on. Facing our ego and trusting our intuition. Trusting ourselves to get to where we want to go in life.

Using the knowledge and experiences we have gone through to help navigate our adulthood. This is the time when many of us slow down and realize life is about the journey, there is no need to rush. 

Of course, there are storms in life, but by this time we are better equipped to handing the storms. If not, there are some ways to help us become more comfortable within our inner beings such as:

  • Therapy
  • Self-care
  • Finding something you love and pursuing it
  • Hobbies
  • Communities of like-minded people
  • Reading self-help books and psychology books to better understand oneself and others
  • Meditation 

Though, I will say, struggling with mental health and trauma doesn’t just go away. We learn how to adapt and have different perceptions of life. The tools above are there to help navigate through the rough times a little bit better. 

Our wings of perception are a bit different and our paths are a little bit darker. Even so, we have much to offer. Just as butterflies help with pollination, we too can help with our own type of pollination in the form of our unique experiences. Sharing our own journeys to help others grow into their own inner being. 

Just like the butterfly spreading the collected pollen it gathers on its feet to help bring in new greenery. We can share our experiences and the lessons learned to help others along their own path in life, growing into a better mindset.

What do you think of when you see a butterfly fly across your path?

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