Shedding Our Shells

The following is an edited transcription of a talk Kyle gave at the Freedom Experience that we just had this past month in North Carolina. This experience was all about discovering our roles, noticing our public and private identities, and letting go of our limiting stories to be able to move into a new phase of life. This passage is a metaphor that Kyle uses to illustrate the necessity of shedding our old lives in order to move into our new ones.


A crab eventually outgrows its shell. Because they can’t grow their shells they have to shed them in order to become a bigger crab. The crabs that haven’t shed in a while will sometimes have barnacles growing on their shells, and their shells are really thick and hard. These crabs have filled up all the spaces in their shell so they are jam-packed with meat. When you go to cook them, they are heavy and dense.

When crabs shed their shell they have to go underground as they start to form a new one. If you catch one at this phase they are light and fluffy, their shell is fresh and clean, and their shell is squishy and not hard yet. They are vulnerable. If you cook them and eat them they only have little strands of meat and little strands of muscle because it hasn’t filled all the way out into this new stage, this new shell.

That’s what it’s like when we shed our ego or our identity. Sometimes we come out of our old shell and we notice, “Oh I’m feeling really tender here and feeling a little exposed.”

I promise that a new image and a new identity will form and a new ego will form around this new space. And, even though there is more space to move into in your new form, there is going to be another point where even that new shell will need to be shed to make more space.

I think we should be doing this ego shedding annually or every two years because when you fill up all the space you just don’t fit in the same shell anymore. There will come a time when your shell limits you in pursuing the life you want.

At the Freedom Experience, we lead you through a process to shed your shell and free you up to have more ability to grow, to gain altitude, and more options in life.

Transitions: Child to Adult—Mother to Person

A client asked me the other day, “As my children are beginning their lives, how do I take myself back and deal with the loss?” The first step is to recognize that you cannot get around the loss; the first thing you have to do is experience the loss, feel the sadness and mourn the changing reality.

This is something that women in particular need to be attentive to. They commonly ignore their lives and make children their whole focus (which is wonderful) but it is important to maintain a sense of personal identity with things, skills and activities that remind them of who they are. A lot of time when the kids go, many women feel like they are losing their whole identity. It’s not good for kids to be that central to the focus. It makes the children narcissistic and overly self-important little beings when they are the center of all that focus.

Personally, I see ‘mother’ as less of a doing role and more of a resource role, as somewhere the kids can go when they need it. In my view, when we make it such an involved role, it’s damaging to the children and it’s damaging to the mother as well because she does not really see her life as anything but being a servant or even subservient to children.

Honestly, I would compare this “loss and sorrow” to withdrawal from addiction. You are sad when the kids leave because you have not fully developed your own focus. It’s like you know something is no longer healthy for you and no longer part of your world and the only way to really go through recovery is to experience the loss of it. If you try to hang on to it, then you will not be satisfied. So, you really just have to take the loss and ask yourself what you want your life to be about now.

I recommend to every mother that in the first years they are everything to the child, and the ultimate practice of motherhood is to skillfully, gradually and artfully extract yourself over time. Let your children have more and more of their own lives so at the transition to their autonomy it is like there is no transition for them or for you.

Love,

Kyle