Helping a Butterfly

By Greg Baer M.D.

September 15, 2014

For years I’ve read variations on this story, and I haven’t found any entomological contradiction, so I’ll assume that it’s at least mostly true:

“A man watched a small opening appear in a cocoon. For several hours he observed the butterfly as it fought to force its body through that little hole. But at one point the butterfly’s progress seemed to slow and then stop. It appeared to be stuck, defeated.

“So the man decided to help the butterfly. With a pair of scissors, he freed the butterfly from the prison of the cocoon. The creature lay there with a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man expected that the wings would enlarge, but they didn’t, and—unable to fly and find food—the butterfly weakened and died.

“Although his intentions were good, the man failed to understand that the restriction of the cocoon was necessary. When butterflies struggle against their prison, they force fluid from their bodies into their wings, which makes them able to fly when they break free.”

We need our struggles. Without them, we don’t grow the wings we require to fly. We become weak and even crippled. Parents need not snip away the cocoon for their children, but instead, need to allow them to flex their own emotional and spiritual muscles.

All of us need the exertion of dealing with responsibility, injustice, and inconvenience. It’s how we grow. It’s how we fly.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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