The Roasted Butterfly • How Overachievers and the Restless Self-destruct from Shiny Object Syndrome

Sniff. Sniff. What's that smell? Hold on, something's burning. I'm pretty sure you've been in those shoes?

This one time, at one of my entheogen retreats, my body kept wriggling on my red mat.

On the outside, I looked like I was in yoga pigeon pose, with one leg bent in front, and the other extended behind. The only difference was the lack of elegance, as my head was burrowed in the fortification of pillows that I had built earlier (to artificially induce a sense of safety for my inner Unsafe Child).

How I got into that position is a mystery. All I know is that my body kept wriggling around, as if I had no bones, as if my spine had a life of its own, curling like Captain Ahab waves beyond 3D directions.

On the inside, I kept chuckling, "Hmm, is this what a sea cucumber feels like?" 

An hour or four later, the wriggling turned into head bonking, against the pillow fortification that was crumbling. I'm fairly certain I looked like a faulty Roomba, bonking against every piece of furniture trying to find its mommy. I wish I filmed it, you would have been amused too!

What was happening? What was I doing? After another hour or four, I finally stopped asking questions and surrendered to the experience. It'll take as long as it takes. Then an hour or four later, from a long, deep silence, it dawned on me, “Oh! I'm the caterpillar!” Wriggle, wriggle.

As soon as that aha struck, I felt walls pressing and closing in. I felt the nausea of claustrophobia tightening in my chest as it lavaged my chest cavity. I've disliked elevators since I was 3. I'm not made for confinement.

For a nano-moment, I could tell that the old-me would have used sheer force to kick and thrash against those walls. But this-me knew, "Don't. Don't fight this." So we surrendered some more.

And from the stillness of no-doing, it dawned on me, “Huh. This must be what cocooning feels like. This is natural... for a caterpillar... which I now am." If this is natural, then there is nothing to fear*. 

I was fascinated! One nano-moment, my mind perceived those walls as annihilating danger. The next nano-moment, those same walls felt like sweet, sweet hibernation and safety.

Another hour or four passed as pure silence indwelled me. I felt like peace personified.

Then like a raspberry pop tart, I ejected out of my cocoon, with bedazzled wings and white gloved jazz hands! Woot-woot! Before I had a chance to shout, “Booya! I’m a mother f*cking butterfly!” I noticed something shiny out of the corner of my eye.

Flap, flap, flap, flap, flap. Tssst. And it was over.

Wait, what?!? What's that smell? Hold on, something's burning. Aww, shit, I'm burnt. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, I can't be dead. It can't be over. I just popped out of the toaster!!! WTF man?!?

It turns out, that shiny object that caught my eye was the sun. And in my overzealous flapping of my new wings, I got too close, too fast to the sun... which burnt me to a charcoal crisp, with only a tiny mound of roasted butterfly ash and Bedazzler jewels left behind.

You mean to tell me that aaaaaaall that wriggling, head bonking, cocooning, gestating, and rock star mofo wing flapping, in the form of $100k and 10 years of self-development, $100,000 in business development, and clearing karma from 98 past lives, was aaaaaall for NOTHING?!?! 🤬 🤯 😭 😡

ALL THAT FOR NOTHING?!? For one nano-moment of "Oooh shiny 🤩"?!? And now it's over? And now I’m dead?!?" (Can you relate?)

""F******************ck." is all I could muster on the inside, until hysterical, uncontrollable laughter burst out on the outside. I'm pretty sure I spent the rest of the evening wet, soaked in my laugh-out-loud tears. (God I cherish my facilitators, who joined in on the laughter, even though they had no idea what I was laughing about.)

The 4 Types of Knowing

My mind knew about the Hyperachiever saboteur, as a shadow aspect of my inner Overachiever. My heart also knew about an Akashic Record of dying too young, far before my time. My soul even knew about re-incarnation trauma.

But this night gifted me the last missing piece of the puzzle: the body-knowing that restlessness and zeal, without a healthy pause-to-check system, will only harm and shorten my own life.

Shiny object syndrome, when taken too far by the Hyper-inflator, leads to self-inflicted suffering and self-destruction. Yeah I knew that, but now I know-know-know-know this.

With reclaiming this full set of knowing (mind + heart + body + soul), the Hyperachiever died that night. Right there, on that red mat. May she rest in peace.


What price would you pay to lay your self-sabotaging shadows to rest in peace?

What happens if you thrash in the cocoon and reject the gestation period?

Live fierce and free,

xo, Ella

(First Published Jun 19, 2019)



Having navigated 131 countries, 87 emotions, 46.5 traumas, and 16 careers, Ellany Lea inspires and guides phoenixes, overachievers, entrepreneurs and wayshowers to live fierce, fulfilled and free.