The metaphor of the butterfly.

Today, during my yoga class, I noticed a butterfly flying inside the room. As I watched it tried to get out. First it fluttered against the glass beside the open door. Someone tried to help it out towards the door but it instead flew up to the ceiling. There it found another window, closed, that it fluttered agitatedly against. Eventually it settled and remained at rest sitting in the window.

The butterfly was a powerful metaphor. First it found itself in a difficult place and tried to find its way out. Well meaning people tried to direct it, but it was frightened by them and it moved in the direction it believed offered freedom. Sadly, that way just trapped it more. Desperately it flew against he window, willing it to open. But it never did. In time the butterfly accepted its fate and rested quietly on the window. Seeing the outside, but not being able to access it.

It reminded me of the times in our lives when we try to find our way out of trouble. We try to find the solution. But in the rush to find it we often go in the wrong direction. At some stage we panic and desperately fight to get out of the trouble we are in. Eventually we accept where we are and calm down. There are two choices at this stage. We can resign ourselves to our difficulties and remain, stuck. Or we can accept our present troubles and calm so that we can gain some perspective and seek a way out.

It is often at the panic stage that people seek counselling. In a session it is possible to discuss your difficulties and gain some perspective, allowing you to calm and gain clarity of vision. Then, with the support of your counsellor, you can work out how to get out.

Some people come to counselling because they are stuck and realise they need help. Others never seek that help.

In our journey through difficulties we often encounter well meaning people who try to show us the way out. They may or may not have the answers. But what they offer isn’t helpful. They also take away our power in the situation, which makes it less likely we will find a way out of the situation.

I wonder, if the woman had left the butterfly alone, if it would have found its way out the door on its own. As it was, it became trapped up near the ceiling, far away from an opening through which it could escape.

So the moral of the story?

If you see someone having a hard time, offer them a supportive ear to hear them. Do not try to solve their problem.

If you are having a hard time, counselling can help you to calm down and find a way out of your difficulty.

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