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Cultural Butterfly


Chrysalis Time

From Tara Mohr,, Oct. 17, 2019

What should we do in the in-between time, when one chapter of our lives or work has ended and the next one hasn’t come into being yet?

This is chrysalis time. Perhaps you’ve heard the metaphor before: in between being a caterpillar and becoming a butterfly, there is the chrysalis.

This is the stage of old things giving way, the stage of goopy mess, of being neither caterpillar nor butterfly. It is the time of being something in an undefined, transitional, un-presentable state.

{Cocktail parties are very difficult to attend during this time.}

Chrysalis happens inside a cocoon. It is a time of retreating into shelter so that transformation can happen in a protected place. It is a time when privacy and boundaries are needed. (And if you don’t allow them, your psyche will create them for you in unconscious ways – quitting, flaking, sabotaging relationships.)

Chrysalis time comes to all of us.

So what can we do during chrysalis time?

Know it for what it is. Name it as chrysalis time. Know it is normal. Know it is universal. Know it is temporary. Allow the cocooning but be mindful it doesn’t turn to isolation. Have compassion for all the ways it is hard – the disintegration, the waiting, the discomfort. Remember you can’t rush the process. But remember you can help the process.

Let’s talk about that last part – helping the process.

We can’t control the timeline of a process of becoming. Sorry, ego. Sorry, planner brain.

But we can accelerate the process by surfacing, facing, and bringing into the light what is happening in us.

In conversation or by writing, we can articulate what no longer fits, letting the words make it clearer to us. In the same way, we can start to articulate what we want and what seems to be arising in us now.

And this is so important, and I see women miss this all the time. We can articulate the little we do know about what is next. So often I talk with women who think they don’t have a vision unless they have a 100% clear and complete one, the kind they feel they could explain to some skeptical observer or put into a business plan.

But I have never met a vision that showed up that way (and I’ve met a lot of them, talking to women about this for the past ten years).

Visions for what is next – your next creation, your next job, your next way of moving through the world – don’t arrive fully formed or with a how-to plan. They come through fragments, whiffs, energies in the body.

In chrysalis time, there are big blanks in our picture of the future, but there are also always words and pictures and ideas we can access about what wants to emerge.

If your vision for what is coming next in your life or your work is 95% blank, articulate the 5% you can see – the little fragments, the faint intuitions, the general direction.

As you surface that 5%, you accelerate its coming into being and prepare the ground for the next layer of clarity to emerge.

If you are in chrysalis time, this is your work. All of it – the acceptance, the compassion, and the proactive inquiry into what is emerging.

If you are not in chrysalis time, think of someone in your life who is. Send this along to them if you think it might help them.

And if you’ve been judging someone in your life (or yourself) as being lost or lazy or unclear or flighty or slow, take a second look: maybe that person is just in chrysalis. Love them, even if it’s a little harder to do that now with their cocoon shell there. They will be bolstered by it.

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