No one takes particular notice of the small, cylindrical shaped cocoons found attached to the bark of trees, the walls of old buildings and which are abundant in any wooded forest. Yet, deep within these tiny packages resides a living miracle. Inside the hardened cocoon, a young butterfly sleeps, drawing strength each day for the formidable task that lays ahead. Eventually, the butterfly will slowly awaken and instinctively begin to push against the inner liningÂ of the cocoon, attempting to free itself fromÂ the walls that imprison it. Again and again, the small creature struggles, only to be pushed back, tired and discouraged. Continuing its valiant efforts, the butterfly is eventually able to work its head through a small opening in the cocoon and to finally experience its first rays of sunlight. It is somewhat ironic that the coocoon which at one time nurtured and protected the young butterfly has now been transformed into the very prison that now confines and enslaves it. Undaughted however, the butterflyÂ reaches for the light so that it can eventually spread its wings and lightlyÂ soar towards the heavens.
Â Butterflies are worthy of our attention and respect not so much for their beauty as for their staunch refusal to be bound and enslaved. These tiny creatures also have much toÂ teach us about our own struggles as human beings. Much like butterflies, all of us at one time spun certain hardend psychologicalÂ cocoons to protect and to help us to endure the anxieties and many uncertainties of our early years. These psychological cocoons were based upon internal representations that were forged of ourselves and other people, as well as our interpretations of theÂ world around us. Eventually, they became part of the internalized roadmaps that allow us to operate on "automatic pilot", as weÂ navigate the course of our lives.
Many of usÂ were once forced to build such strong and inflexible inner fortresses that now in their adult years serve as the very prisons that prevent them from obtaining growth, freedom and a sense of personal fulfillment. However, like the butterfly,Â we continue to reach for the light, searching for that which would set us free...
David Loewenstein PhD is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami and author of For the Love of Rachel: A Father's Story just released by Enalan Communications www.enalan.com