How to Let Go: Inspiration from the Caterpillar


Butterflies are amazing creatures. One of the things I enjoyed about living in Santa Cruz was that Natural Bridges Park is a winter safe haven for the Monarch Butterfly. I loved taking walks in the hills and being pleasantly surprised when a butterfly floated by. How their colors and design added beauty to the landscape of the hills. Butterflies show me how truly creative mother nature is. Besides their beauty, I can understand how they are the most used metaphor for change.

The caterpillar that becomes the butterfly. This is my take on the tale.

Becoming a Butterfly

I don’t understand what’s so fascinating to you humans. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, as I’m driven to. I was born and all I knew was this seed– I will fly. I have somewhere to go. I don’t know how and I know I can. For now, I follow my instinct and I eat. I eat and munch and eat. You know, milk thistle is quite good. I grow and grow and grow. At times my skin feels tight and it sheds. Under it, I have a new skin that’s bigger. It feels good to grow. It’s what I’m meant to do. I keep eating and I keep dreaming. Then the day comes when I can shed no more. My skin is too hard and it will not budge. Hmmm. Yet, I know I must fly. It’s in my heart. I’m made to fly. So I surrender to what I know. I will fly. In that surrender, just like I have with each shedding before, the process continues. I cocoon and retreat inside of myself. My own DNA begins to change itself. It follows my dream. It follows the path of evolution. I accept and let go. I dream of flying. I dream of wings. I feel air flowing over my wings. I imagine what it would be like to be high in the sky. Time passes and I keep dreaming.

Then I awake. I stretch and wiggle. I have wings! Still, have my antennae. Hmmm, and not as many feet. I feel a call to go South. My whole body feels the temperature of the air, the speed of the wind, the distance to the sun. This is who I was meant to be. Higher and higher I fly. I don’t question where to go, the answer is inside of me. Generations are in me. I know this one thing to continue dreaming my dream, following this pulse and letting go to what is next.

It’s a Process

That’s what I think it’s like to be a caterpillar. They trust their evolution and surrender to each step, even when they don’t know how. They don’t get stuck in the how. They just know. They trust their desire. They trust that their natural process and purpose is change, transformation, and evolution. That there is something better, so they let go, knowing that the next thing is always better. It’s not a one and done. What if we believed these things? What if we saw in each other and ourselves the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly? What if we were continually, willing to be with and in the process of letting go?

I’ve been reflecting on how much we can learn from nature about life. Every day nature is evolving and flowing. From hour to hour, day to day, month to month and season to season. Flowers that open in the morning and close at night. Leaves that simply fall off trees in the fall. When it’s time to let go, it happens. When it’s time to close or fly, nature trusts its instinct and follows it.

Letting Go

In the morning you stop by your favorite coffee shop and buy your vente almond mile latte. It stays in your hand all morning until the last sip is taken. You are done with it and you throw it away. No big deal. You accept the latte is done and you let the cup go.

I wish letting go was always that easy. It’s not.

I look back of all that I let go and the things I keep letting go of. When was it easy, when was it hard, and when was there resistance. What I’ve realized is, life is evolution and change. The more we deny the truth, hold on to things, hide from things, and don’t take responsibility for our actions we get stuck. We keep things longer than we should, whether it be that bad habit of donuts after a long night out or running tapes in our head that said we aren’t good enough. If we resist. It persists.

But I want my coffee

What if we went with the path of least resistance and followed our knowing, like the butterfly. For example, one thing I’m trying to let go of— coffee. I stopped drinking coffee all together when I discovered I had adrenal fatigue. I knew it was bad for my adrenals so it was banned. Now that I’m feeling better, coffee seems to be sneaking back in here or there. The problem is, I do better without it. I am already sensitive to personal energy shifts, add in recovery from adrenal fatigue and it’s really not good for me. I get all angsty and anxious. I step out of my wholeness and feel like a whirling top. I should just stop. Right? No! It’s so good. I love the smell. It’s an event and pause from my day. Plus in Hawaii, coffee is often accompanied by air conditioning or at least shade from the sun. It’s the thing to do. Coffee and work. Welcome to my head! I bet yours is like this too. It’s time to let it go. There is resistance. There is the part of me that wants to be healthy, there is the part of my ego that gets a boost from being a coffee drinker and socializing at coffee shops, the part of me that thinks it would be cool to save $6… All these voices compete. In the midst of it, I listen to each voice and understand what they want for me. And then I imagine what it would be like to not be in this resistance. To not have this question every day. The ease of saying no to coffee and the thing I will say yes to- my health, to money, to joy, to respect, to courage, and to tea instead of coffee. This continues until one day I say no to coffee and it’s not even a decision or question, It just is. I accept that I like coffee. I accept that it is an epicurean treat for me. I accept that it doesn’t serve my health and vitality. I accept that this habit contributed to my adrenal fatigue. I accept that I need to let it go. I accept that it won’t be easy. I accept that I will miss it. I accept that I will have coffee once and awhile, but more awhile than once. I say no to coffee. The next time maybe not. The time after that I say no. Until the resistance is gone and I’ve moved on. It’s trusting in my own evolution and that I want to fly.

What to Know About Letting Go

I find the process of letting go isn’t linear. It doesn’t happen just 1-2-3 and it’s done. It is sometimes just done, and often it’s gradual. Yes, when I quit my corporate job to pursue other dreams the conversation to quit took 5 minutes. It looked done. In reality, it took me months to get there and it took me months to let my ego attachments to working go. The same with my marriage. The final conversation to end my marriage took 15 minutes, the actual process before and after took months.

  • Listen to all the voices of resistance. Hear them all out. What are they feeling? What do they want for you?
  • Accept. What do you need to accept? What do you need to take responsibility for?
  • Decide on the bigger yes you want to make. Create a positive and motivating vision of what life could be like after you let go.
  • Let yourself feel all the feelings attached to letting go. Don’t try to stuff them, numb them out, ignore them or tell yourself you shouldn’t feel that way.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate. What you are letting go of came into your life for a reason. Most likely, now it’s not serving you as it once did. Celebrate, thank it and send it on it’s way.
  • Let go. Let go by 5%, 10%, 25%, what ever makes sense to you. But each day let go.
  • When you’ve let go, take a breath and enjoy the space of letting go. Enjoy the space of ease. Enjoy the space of freedom and possibility that you have created.

A Final Note- Call on Courage & Compassion

What if, like the caterpillar, you had unwavering belief in your dream and what you could do. You probably don’t look at the caterpillar and think, wow they are courageous. I do! The ability to surrender completely to your vision, to evolution and the hope for a better life takes courage. I know how tender we are in the midst of change, and the tenacity it takes to do this thing called being human. How hard it is to let go. To let go of faded dreams, relationships, and more. But at some point, it’s time to call on courage and compassion and let go of known shores to set sail for new lands.


Kim-ElishaCreate & Navigate Change, Emotional Health