“What is it?” asked the child. “It’s a cocoon,” the teacher said. “Inside is a butterfly. Soon the cocoon will split and the butterfly will come out.”

“May I have it?” the child asked.

“Yes, but you must promise that when the cocoon splits and the butterfly starts to come out and is beating its’ wings to get out of the cocoon, you won’t help it. Don’t help the butterfly by breaking the cocoon apart. Let him do it by himself.”

The child promised and took the cocoon home to watch it. Finally it began to vibrate, move and quiver. At last it split. Inside was a beautiful, damp butterfly frantically beating its wings against the cocoon, trying to get out. The butterfly didn’t seem to be able to get free.

The child desperately wanted to help. After watching a while, the child gave in to impulse and helped pushed the cocoon apart. The butterfly sprang out. As soon as it got up into the air, it fell to the ground and died. The child picked up the dead butterfly, in tears went back and showed the teacher.

“You helped open the cocoon, didn’t you?” Through tears, the child said, “Yes, I did.”

“You didn’t understand or see what you were doing. When the butterfly comes out of the cocoon, the only way it can strengthen his wings is by beating them against the cocoon so its’ muscles will grow. When you helped it, you prevented it from getting strong enough to fly. That’s why the butterfly fell to the ground and died.”

“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.” ~ Robert Tew



You may have heard a variation of this story before.  It’s a reminder of the fact that while it’s hard to watch people we care for struggle, often the best help we can provide is to do nothing. By intervening and shouldering the burden ourselves, we rob those we love of the opportunity to learn, grow and get stronger. 

It’s hard to watch our children struggle, but it’s required for them to grow wings of confidence, courage, inner strength and self-worth. If we intervene we deny our children the struggle of solving problems, facing challenges, going without, taking responsibility, working hard, and failing.

As a friend, or as a spouse, the instinct to help is hard to resist.  We want to offload their pain onto ourselves.  By doing so, however, we’re eliminating the circumstances that the people we love need for their own personal development. It’s instinctive, and understandable, to want to help. But often the best course of action is to wait and let the process unfold in its own time.

We are always in the dance of balancing struggle and support, reactivity and boundaries. You simply must listen to your deepest intuition.

The best gift we can give is to stand on the sideline, shouting encouragement, but allowing the process of growth to run its course.

Because ultimately, it’s THIS struggle that makes us stronger.

Katrina Murphy

Katrina Murphy

Katrina Murphy is a Professional Intuitive Mindset and Confidence Coach in Ontario, Canada, serving clients across Canada and internationally. Katrina helps professionals to change the relationship that they have with themselves so they can reconnect both in their relationships and at work. She’s been featured in various publications and is the creator of the Power-Passion-Purpose Framework.

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