Of all the things we think we know about lobsters, did you know there’s something that lobsters can teach us about stress? Don’t laugh, because you’d be surprised. These wonderful (and delicious when cooked) sea creatures, who’ve survived as a species for over 400 million years have probably learned a thing or two about letting go and moving on.
An interesting story and video by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski is very insightful in relating how our friends from the deep deal with stress and change, and how we might take a cue from them on how to deal with our own forms of stress and change.
You’re well aware that lobsters have hard rigid shells that turn a bright red when cooked, but inside they’re soft and mushy. As they grow, their shells get smaller and smaller, because they don’t grow along with the flesh inside. Now imagine if you kept the same clothes on from the age of 8 to 15. Your clothes wouldn’t get bigger as you grew, but they’d sure get tighter...and tighter...and tighter.
To the lobster, growth becomes very uncomfortable and stressful. But that’s when a remarkable transformation begins. The lobster knows what’s taking place, and what they need to do next.
Crawling around as a stressed out crustacean, the lobster retreats to a safe space where it can hide and retreat out of sight of predators and outside disturbances, and do what it needs to do to regroup and prepare for the next go ‘round. Now think of a place like that for you. Maybe it’s your home, or a room at home, or a quiet getaway that no one knows about but you. For the lobster, this place is under a rock (you know, the proverbial “rock” we want to crawl under at times when things get so unbearable that we need to escape it all and decompress).
While in the safety and shadows of the rock, the lobster begins to shake off his (or her) old, constrictive shell and produces a new, roomier shell that will keep it safe and comfortable after it forms, allowing the lobster to get back in the game of ocean life and move more freely.
So likewise, when we become stressed and uncomfortable over a situation or circumstance in our life, that can be nature’s signal to us that we’re outgrowing the place where we were and it’s making us feel closed in. We need to prepare ourselves for growth in a new direction and where we’re headed. In other words, we need to go somewhere to “shake off” that confining old shell and discomfort of the past and grow into a roomier, more comfortable shell that will feel better as we grow into new roles and responsibilities. So, if you’re feeling stressed and uncomfortable, it might be time to take a tip from those lovable lobsters and get ready for a new growth opportunity!