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Embracing Self-Metamorphosis: From a People Pleasing Chameleon to a Liberated Butterfly

A few years back, I participated in a self-improvement workshop where one exercise stood out vividly. The facilitator prompted us to envision ourselves using symbols from nature: one representing our current state and another embodying our desired transformation. For me, the imagery that resonated was that of a chameleon and a butterfly.

Reflecting on my tendencies, I recognized myself as a chameleon, adapting my colors and behavior to blend into diverse environments or please others. Whether it meant altering my demeanor to fit in or sacrificing my own desires to maintain harmony, I had mastered the art of camouflage.

Yet, deep within, I yearned to mimic the butterfly's journey of metamorphosis — a symbol of profound personal growth and liberation. I aspired to shed the constraints of conformity and emerge as my true, authentic self, vibrant and free. I yearned to liberate myself from the relentless pursuit of approval and transform into a radiant individual who cherished and honored her own worth.

My chameleon nature came from experiences I had in childhood. This is when I learned to protect myself by obeying and making others happy. Telling adults what I believed they wanted to hear, rather than the truth, was another form of protection. Although this kept me safe as a child, I was also denying my true self and my identity was shaped by how well I pleased others.

These behaviors provided a sense of security during my childhood and continued to influence my adult life. Pleasing others brings a sense of satisfaction and approval. Yet, when this habit evolves into a chronic pattern rooted in the fear of disappointing others, what initially feels gratifying can morph into a troubling dilemma.

When we constantly seek validation and approval from external sources, we neglect the crucial practice of self-affirmation. By conforming to others' expectations and craving their validation, we overlook chances to recognize and appreciate our own worth. Prioritizing self-love and self-value, irrespective of external opinions, is vital for our overall well-being. Allowing external praise to dictate our sense of self leads to the erosion of our identity and authentic selves.

Adapting ourselves solely to appease others or gain their approval can inflict significant harm on both our emotional and physical well-being. This tendency might lead us to forsake activities that hold personal value and significance. We might refrain from taking risks or engaging in uncomfortable activities due to the overwhelming anxiety they provoke. Additionally, constant concern about others' perceptions can intensify the worry and anxiety within us.

The accumulation of stressors and anxiety can pave the way to a state of learned helplessness. This occurs when we perpetuate a cycle of emotional self-harm that persists over time. Gradually, we start believing that change is impossible and resign ourselves to the notion that life will remain unchanged. Our sense of self becomes entangled in the expectations of others, resulting in a loss of our authentic identity and fostering a pervasive sense of hopelessness regarding our future.

Receiving compliments and approval from others often brings us joy and satisfaction. However, when we become reliant on external validation to shape our identity, it can lead to detrimental outcomes.

Yet, liberation is within reach. Begin with modest steps. Establish simple boundaries with trusted friends or family members. Prioritize self-care by identifying and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Place these activities at the forefront of your agenda rather than relegating them to the bottom. And when you make a commitment to indulge in something that brings you pleasure, honor that commitment to yourself.

It's important to acknowledge that this journey will involve discomfort. Altering long-standing behaviors is inherently challenging. Embrace discomfort as an integral part of the process, something to acknowledge rather than evade. Remember, you have the capability to navigate through it. I have faith in your ability to succeed!



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