The egg and the ego

When we’re being tempted by shiny chocolate eggs, it’s easy to forget the traditional symbolism of the egg – which represents springtime, new beginnings and in some cultures, immortality and rebirth.

The ovoid shape is one of the strongest engineering structures when under compression, as used in archways, and will withstand a significant amount of even vertical pressure. Try it! The shape will only crack if it has a weak area, or when you hit it in a particular spot, or dig into it with your spoon – the chocolate variety usually doesn’t last long enough for you to find a spoon.

The role of the tough outer shell is to protect what’s within, and sometimes we pay a lot of attention to the shell, without looking deeper.

I recently worked with a coaching client, let’s call her Catherine. Catherine’s work contract is going to finish up soon; she is caught between the desire to go into panic mode and start applying for jobs left right & centre, or to take the opportunity to find what she really wants to do.

Her passion is in  education, communication & working with people – for her, the administration role that she is currently in lacks challenge and motivation for her – she could do it with her eyes closed. She feels she has a lot more to give and more potential to fulfil.

During our coaching session, Catherine recognised that, having started her family at a relatively young age, and now in her thirties, she has never really focused on what she personally wants in life. She had difficulty describing what she was passionate about, her favourite colour or music – when she asked her children, she was shocked that they said, “Mum, you don’t have a favourite anything”… She has locked her real self away deep inside a public outer shell, and with this awareness, she now wants to start paying more attention to what the real Catherine wants, and how the real Catherine can begin to use her skills & talents to benefit other people as well as be more fulfilled.

She decided to take action, to take time for herself, to listen to what was going on, and to work on journaling her thoughts and emotions. She recalled that when she had been through tough times early in her life, she used to do exactly that, but she had forgotten about paying attention to her self.

So if we recognise that we have a hard outer shell, in order to face the challenges and opportunities that the world brings us, then what’s the inside for?

Inside, the white is there to protect and nourish the yolk, which contains the embryo and all the information needed for the chick to develop into an adult… whichever came first… if we can get past our ego and our outer shell, and tune in to our real feelings, values and wants, that will give us all the information we need to help us move in the right direction.

We all have to some degree a hidden self, that we only see or pay attention to occasionally – if we are happy and fulfilled generally in what we are doing in life, it’s usually because we have made choices that allow us to be that way, and that we are in tune with what we really want.

Our outer shell may withstand the ongoing regular pressures of day to day life, but its often only in times of crisis, when the shell cracks, that we get the opportunity to see what’s inside – things can get pretty messy then, and you have to decide if you’re going to allow yourself to crack up, or use the opportunity and make omelette.

As CS Lewis put it “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.”

Liz Barron, Realize Coaching

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