What’s eating you?

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A friend of mine is suffering from osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease. She asked me if I’d heard of serrapeptase or serratiopeptidase. Once I had managed to spell it, I had to confess my ignorance. I’ve just Googled it and found it is an enzyme produced by silkworms which allows the emerging moth to dissolve its cocoon. According to Wikipedia, some claims have been made about this enzyme’s ability to reduce pain and inflammation in humans, but there is no conclusive evidence so far.

However, it struck me that the enzyme was a useful metaphor for reducing pain and inflammation in emotional terms. With many coaching clients I hear that they feel held back by experiences which happened years ago. What they learnt through a painful relationship with a parent, or feeling humiliated at school or at work leaves behind a powerful imprint. A new situation they encounter can trigger an old emotional reaction, which leads them to avoid the opportunity. And so they become trapped in the old cocoon and can’t escape. What has been a familar home becomes a prison. Organisational culture can produce the same effect.

The enzyme that eats away the cocoon and allows the moth to emerge into the world, capable of flight, is self-awareness. Recognising the old familiar patterns that wear us down over time is the first step towards taking action to change. Consciously challenging our automatic thinking processes means that we have options, possibilities to fly. If the cocoon has served its purpose, could it be time to dissolve it?

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