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The Butterfly Effect

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Years ago there was a movie entitled The Butterfly Effect. The theory, by the same name, states that the tendency of a complex system is so sensitive to initial conditions, that over time a small incident could cause a large, unpredictable effect, like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings could possibly cause a typhoon. In other words, small things can have big effects. Think of a small pebble tossed into a pond as it causes a continuous rhythmic crescendo of waves. The same phenomenon is found when we extend a gentle touch, a quiet smile, or a simple complement as the power of it all can change the trajectory of a person’s day. However, I wonder why the author of this theory chose to call it the butterfly effect and not the Hummingbird effect or the rain drop effect because in reality, lots of small events have the potential of a seed that most often expands and grows into something greater.

The thought of this started a fascination with butterflies. One morning, as I sat at the kitchen counter, eating a bowl of cereal, I saw a beautiful butterfly move past the window. The movement mesmerized me, as I was entranced at the colors and how it flew ever so aimlessly. This creature did not have a worry in the world. All it had was beauty and purpose. Curiosity fueled my search to understand the connection I felt.

One quick lesson was learned as I attempted to play midwife for a small group of butterflies, and that is, strength is gained in their struggle to emerge. The emerging butterfly picks and prods its way out of the chrysalis and with each movement it gains strength as the struggle forces blood into its wings. Once it has cleared the pupa, it hangs upside down to rest, dry, and to complete the process of blood flowing throughout its body. It is through this process, the work, the struggle, the consistent pushing through that gives strength.

This was a painful lesson as I robbed one butterfly of this experience by attempting to gently open the chrysalis and it emerged but was unable to fly as graciously and with the altitude of the others. I felt bad, even guilty, as I watched him struggle to catch a breeze. Then I realized that I had been hard on my friends and blaming my family for not saving me and repeatedly coming to my rescue. But it was in the process of coming through problems, mishaps, and trying times, that I had gained strength. My resolve was strengthened. My faith in God and wisdom was increased. Self-reliance, insight, and courage were enlarged. I learned how to advocate for myself in maneuvering the unpleasantries of life. You might say, I developed beauty and purpose as I came through my own personal chrysalis.

Life for everyone will always have its struggles and dark times. It’s our choice how those times will shape us. We really do have the choice to fight, advocate for ourselves and push our way through to better days, take flight and run from or avoid trying situations, (but understand life has a way of following us and what we avoid in one relationship or in one city will eventually find us in the next) or allow it to make us remain dormant, closed off, stagnant never to emerge or evolve for the rest of our lives. Whatever dark, trying, secluded place you find yourself in, be kind to yourself but patiently keep moving forward, toward a new evolved you.

Should you find that you require help emerging because you’ve been in a certain state for so long, it’s okay. It’s as easy as taking your time and finding the right therapist or Life Coach that will help you start the process. We will help you create a game plan, look at obstacles that caused past plans to fail, and hold you accountable as you pick your way through to beauty and purpose. Remember, something as small as the gently flutter of a butterfly’s wings could cause momentous change but first we have to give birth to our butterflies.

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