Stop the Boulder

By Greg Baer M.D.

September 16, 2016

Temple Grandin is a world-renowned expert, writer, and speaker on the subjects of autism and animal management. Her expertise in autism is—almost beyond belief—derived from her own autism. I heartily recommend watching the movie bearing her name.

A good friend recently attended one of her lectures, and Dr. Grandin said, “Fear is a scientifically proven and studied subject.” Additionally, she said, “After an animal is in fear, it takes 20-30 minutes for it to calm down.”

Apparently fear in animals and humans is very similar. Once we begin to experience fear, it tends to become bigger and bigger at a rapid rate, and the recovery can be slow—often much longer than the 20-30 minutes seen in animals.

In my experience, when people begin to become afraid, it’s like a boulder beginning to roll down a steep hill. If you attempt to stop the boulder very early in its descent—with a physical push or a wedge—often you will be successful. If you wait, however, until the boulder has picked up significant momentum, your choices become limited and unpleasant. You can stand in front of it and be injured or killed, or you can just let it roll all the way down the mountain, completely helpless to stop it from causing destruction to whatever lies in its path.

We cannot indulge fear—at all. We can’t just hope it will go away. Fear builds momentum like a falling boulder, and soon we are helpless to limit any destruction it might cause to us and to others as it crashes wildly and unpredictably down the mountain.

What can we use as a wedge early on, preferably the moment fear makes the slightest appearance? We can remember what is true: that there are some people who love us, that God loves us, and that we can make choices in life that lead to happiness. There is always hope, but we can’t feel it if we let fear begin to roll over us.

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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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