Love the Skin You’re In

by | Featured, Journal Prompts

There’s an eight foot long snake in my house.

No need to call Animal Control – he’s my pet. His name is Samhain and he’s a Columbian Red Tail Boa Constrictor. “Samhain” is the Gaelic version of Halloween, my favorite day of the year.

I know snakes are not for everyone. (They’re probably not for most people.) But regardless of what you think about Samhain or my decision to share my home with him, you’ve got to admit one thing:

Samhain is one smart cookie.

Let me tell you why.

If there’s anything snakes do well, it’s grow. He grows every time he eats. His skin gets stretched, and doesn’t fit him anymore. So he sheds it. His eyes get cloudy and he slides right out of his skin, leaving a snake-shaped molt behind him.

Not once in my lifetime of keeping reptiles have I seen a snake try to climb back into that discarded skin.

So why do we humans try it?

We come to the decision to make a difficult change. Something needs to go. It’s time for us to grow exponentially.

Growth means our skin is not going to fit anymore. So we shed it: the job, the relationship, the self-destructive habit. The thing we’ve decided is not working for us.

And then, in a moment of panic, we try to crawl back into that discarded skin.

We begin to doubt ourselves. “Maybe it wasn’t that bad.”

We think we’ve made a mistake. “I know it was killing me, but the benefits were good.”

We wonder what we were thinking. “I should never have left!”

Our original decision was the most honest, the most brave. It happened at the gut level. Then the doubt sneaks in, the second guessing. We don’t want to grow, because it’s uncomfortable. Change is disorienting. Letting go is painful.

But all we need to do is embrace our new skin and we’ll be fine.

New skin feels vulnerable. There’s no tough hide to protect you from the elements. It may even look different than you’re used to. Who is that person in the mirror?

If you’ve made a necessary change, prepare to be uncomfortable as you adjust to the new skin.

Let’s learn a lesson from my angel serpent – don’t crawl back into that old self. You discarded it for a reason: it no longer fits. Trust your decision. Move forward and leave that misshapen wrapper behind.

Get out your journal and ask yourself:

  • Am I willing to undergo the temporary discomfort of change and loss in order to grow into a fabulous new self?
  • Have I made a change recently that I’m thinking about backing out of because it’s hard?
  • Am I picking up that bad habit again, going back to that unhealthy relationship, swallow the discontent of that job?
  • What one small step can I take right now to further my growth and keep walking away from that old situation that wasn’t working?

Samhain’s brain may be the size of a pea, but I gotta tell you — when it comes to growth, he’s got a lot to teach.

I’m learning. Are you?

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