Square One. It’s a place we coaches often dread, because we know what it means. It’s the place most clients are in when they sign up for a coaching session. Square One is Martha Beck’s first stop on the Change Cycle, a process she describes in Finding Your Own North Star. The Change Cycle is the cycle we all go through when we initiate change in our lives, be it through an external event that shoves us into change or something we deliberately choose.
For example – motherhood.
I recently chose, knowing fully what I was in for, to step into Square One. I’ve been through many a Square One since becoming a coach, and I’m getting more comfortable with it. Square One, Martha explains, is like being a caterpillar in a cocoon, preparing to become a butterfly. It’s not the pretty part of the process. Apparently, caterpillars dissolve into a goopy-type substance in the cocoon before they morph into a butterfly and fly away.
A goopy-type substance is a good description for what I have felt like most of my pregnancy. I’m not saying it’s not a magical experience, because it is. However, it’s also a giant dissolving of who I was and the beginning of the new me – the mom me.
Being goopy is not always a pretty sight. It involves hormonal swings, sudden weeping, mother-instinct anger/protectiveness that is truly shocking (I suppose that part is just preparing me for what I’ll feel when she’s on the outside!), ridiculous amounts of nesting, and sudden, decisive decisions about my life. It’s a bit, say, up and down.
It also involves looking in the mirror and saying, “Who am I?” Physically I’m completely different. But I also feel completely different on the inside. My identity is shifting and changing to incorporate this new, giant part of who I am – a mother.
Square One is about dissolving your identity and becoming a new version of yourself. We all go through square one over and over again, because we are always evolving. However, it’s not exactly a comfy experience. It often feels like, as Martha says, you’re in “no man’s land.” The key to surviving is to just surrender and let it happen.
I am in the midst of morphing into motherhood, and I surrender. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s a messy thing. They key is to be okay with the messiness. Everything is changing, and I must let go of the old to open up to the new. Is that comfy? No. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.
So, if you, too are in your own Square One, let us raise a toast to feeling like a goopy substance, not knowing who we are right now, and to transformation. We are becoming butterflies, fellow Square One travelers. We are preparing to fly.