What Butterflies and Mountains can teach you about Self-Respect

Personal Development
Butterfly and Mountain

I remember the words of one of my teachers, spoken several years ago, just as if I heard them yesterday. It was the day when we got our certificates as classical homeopaths. And to celebrate it, he let each of us draw a card from a stack on which was a symbol from the I Ging, the ancient chinese system of self-discovery. When it was up to me, I drew “The Mountain”. And he just smiled at me and said “Remember, you are the mountain. You are.”. On others, he used much more words, but it was something in his eyes, that made this all necessary to understand.

Somehow I knew in that moment, that this was a quality that was all within me, that people coming to me with a need for help already knew I had, but which I sometimes wasn’t sensing within me, because I felt myself more like a butterfly. Flying around, unstable and feeling very often more like a caterpillar, frustrated when change doesn’t happen fast enough.

In that moment I knew, that the quality I needed, to balance this tendency within me, was already there, waiting to been developed.

What is Self-Respect?

Looking up the Online Etymology Dictionary you will find that they define the term Self-Respect as

> “proper regard for the dignity of one’s person”

and looking up Dignity you will find

> c.1225, from O.Fr. dignete, from L. dignitatem (nom. dignitas) “worthiness,” from dignus “worth (n.), worthy, proper, fitting” from PIE *dek-no-, from base *dek- “to take, accept” (see decent). Dignitary is first recorded 1672.

So self-respect is all about > Accepting Yourself As Worthy, Proper, Fitting.

How can you acquire such an acceptance of yourself? There are 2 ways to find this, and I have found that they are represented beautifully by 2 of the most powerful symbols of personal development – the Mountain and the Butterfly.

Now depending on your character you might have a problem at times with one or the other. But I think it is vital to understand that, unless you are not able to express both qualities when it comes to change, you are not willing to grow self-respect for yourself and in the eyes of others.

1. The Mountain – You Have to Find an Unconditional Love for Yourself Within You.

Accepting yourself as being fine and ok is for a lot of people one of the hardest things to do. They have been told (especially in their early years) so many times, that they are not ok, that it is now hard for them to relearn themselves and to contradict the meaning of those people that try to form them a long time ago.

I won’t say, that this is an easy task. As I stated already at How to Love Yourself – the Master Key for Your Life learning to love yourself is the most important thing you should master in this life, and it is a life-long commitment towards growth and personal development. Here are some simple steps to get you going:

  • Look out for small steps
  • Find things that are good about you each day.
  • Use a journal, where you write down each day, what good you did that day
  • Surround yourself with people who are really willing to help you develop
  • Try to get away from people who need you to be small, so they can look bigger
  • Look for an opportunity to help other people. Helping other people is one of the best ways to increase your own self-esteem.

All of this will build up the self-love that is necessary for you to become so strong in your foundation, that you will someday have the strength of a mountain within you.

At first it will feel more like a tiny pebble, but step by step it will grow into a rock, then a hill and at last into a mountain of self-love that makes your character so unshakeable to all external negativity, that you then have the ability to adapt to change, whenever you want it or have to do it. And not when others want you to do it.

At times you need to be a mountain. Being strong in your foundation and unshakeable in your character. People should know that whatever you say, you mean it. You will walk your talk.

One of the biggest lessons you need to learn in the process of becoming a mountain is No Fu – The Warriors Way to Say No.

But this inner strength needs to be balanced by another quality within you, that is represented by a much smaller symbol, yet the inner strength of this is equal to that of the mountain – the Butterfly.

2. The Butterfly – You Have to Experience Yourself As Capable Through Times of Change

You need this quality for the times, when you need to be able to adapt, to change your opinion, to let your foundation being shaken by circumstances.

Change is inevitable in this life. No matter how deep you sometimes want to hide from it, you cannot escape it. This life is all about change. And yes sometimes change feels painful. No doubt about it. But despite the pain, change is a necessity for any growth. Unless you are willing to leave the circle of comfort that surrounds you, unless you are willing to do things that you have never done before and that by definition feel uncomfortable, you are not going to grow in any area of your life. Any change is giving birth to something new. And nearly any birth involves labour and pain.

A perfect representation is a butterfly evolving from a caterpillar.

A caterpillar that would not be willing to leave its comfy cocoon would die sooner or later. Fortunately nature has implemented in its genes an automatic mechanism, that makes him go through the discomfort, the labour and pain of breaking the cocoon and evolving into a beautiful butterfly. A symbol of not only beauty but of growth and overcoming obstacles.

How can you develop the qualities of a butterfly within you?

  • Take a look at any change that you are currently in or that you see coming soon, and ask yourself: “If I go through these changes, what man will I be, once I’ve been gone through it”. If you feel like a caterpillar right now, see yourself like a fully developed butterfly in the nearby future.
  • Once you know that these changes will make you become an even more beautiful butterfly, then embrace change and smile a lot, knowing that all labour and pain is not there to make your life harder, but to make you even more beautiful and strong.
  • Oh and by the way, remember that butterflies have wings, while caterpillars crawl. So again enjoy the discomfort, pain and labour of change now, because it will help you to fly soon.

So remember for yourself, that within you there are already these 2 qualities. The Mountain and the Butterfly are already within you. You just need to remember them and express them. It is all about practice and repetition.

A good advice is to feel inside you that mountain and that butterfly. Experience yourself as being those with all their innate qualities and then let them develop within you.

Become a Mountain, Who Is Able to Fly.

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16 comments… add one
  • What a fantastic post! I love all the points you have made here. Indeed, what we need is already inside of us. The key is tapping into our potential, being aware, and taking action. We are indeed our own mountain. 🙂

    Thanks again!
    Dayne

    • Patrick

      @Dayne: Indeed we are our own mountains as well as sources for everything we need. Thank you.

  • Very nice post, Patrick, thanks.

    I know there is a lot of talk in the personal development world about loving yourself. I appreciate your description, and the idea makes complete sense to me. In my own experience, however, it doesn’t resonate. My journey has been to realize I am unhappy and unfulfilled, to do whatever it takes to clear the sources of unhappiness, then live a happy life. As all the limits are cleared, I do feel more confident, hardly experience any fear, and am more in touch with passion and creativity. My life is hugely better – I just wouldn’t say that I love myself. But is my heart open, seeing love everywhere? Absolutely.

    • Patrick

      @Gail: There are many ways of achieving that state of self-respect. If you have the feeling, that you first need to become aware of the clutter around your ability to love yourself, that is so. You must become aware and are then able to let go. It is like with real clutter. Yes, you must get rid of the physical clutter, but you must also let go of your inner neediness for the clutter. Like an inner and outer way, that go hand in hand.

  • Lovely post, Patrick!

    I’ve always been intrigued by what happens in the cocoon and how the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. The amazing thing is that the caterpillar turns into a kind of soup. Some cells die, others revert to an undifferentiated state, some cluster together as ‘imaginal discs’ that carry a genetic blueprint for new structures.

    In terms of self-development I take this to mean that we need to embrace the darkness, the constriction, and the sense of not knowing what happens next.

    Then, one day, we break out of the cocoon and find that we can fly!

    • Patrick

      @Mary: Great Addition to the analogy. Yes there is a passage called the dark night of the soul (an old term for this time of chaos), that we need to go through. There is always pain of uncertainty and frustration before any major breakthrough. Once we are through we are indeed a new person.

  • Great job. Flexibility in circumstance but firm ground in who you are. What a great combination.

    • Patrick

      @Justin and Jai Kai: Thank you. I think that firm ground is a basis for any type of flexibility. Otherwise your flexibility will be like a tree that will be swept away by the slightest blow. You must know who you are and what you are willing to stand for and then you are ready to learn and grow.

  • Great post… I love the whole concept of the mountain and the butterfly. It is so important to be firm and strong and at the same time be willing to change and morph into a new evolved being.

  • Great post Patrick. Often, I feel more like a butterfly as well. The lack of stability can be seen as indecisive in behavior, which I can really relate to. Sometimes, we all want the change to occur instantly along with the result. When the result doesn’t come as fast as we wished to, we tend to get demotivated as result. But flexibility can also be seen in a butterfly, something which is good. I guess in the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right balance.

    • Patrick

      @Karlil: I think both types have their strength and weaknesses. The mountain can be firm and strong, but also stubborn and rigid. The butterfly can be flexible and good at adapting to change, but also indecisive, airy-fairy, building dream castles and weak in following through. So they need to balance each other to play their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.

  • http//this learning experience of butterflies have really changed my little dare life!

  • Tehre is an awesome Google Doodle about the Mountain of Butterflies on 9th January 2016 😮 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHZ30ApGJaY

  • This post made me cry.

  • This is a beautiful, well-versed article that personally helped me a lot. It’s not just an analogy – it is TRUTH!

  • Yamuna Mahat

    Very good article that touched my heart, it is truth, let me follow the advice to gain confidence and to share with others., I want to read this article one more time .

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