The Elephant is in The Room To Help Us

English: The eye of an asian elephant at Eleph...

Image via Wikipedia

How do I get him to see it?

How do we get our friends, our husbands, our wives and kids and patients to see the elephant in the room?  My patients ask me this and I ask this of myself.

I want to feel better.  I just want to get to the bottom of this!  

Will someone please just treat what is wrong and I can move on?!

There is this implication that someone is plotting against progress to derail us from appropriate therapies, treatments, walnuts and soy milk.  Why they would want to do that, no one agrees on.

When Cincy said something to this effect in clinic, a huge shade in the shape of an elephant in the room, caught my eye and it was distracting.  I smiled at the wraith and conspired with it on how it could best gain acclaim.  I tried to explain what I was seeing to Cincy, but how does one describe an apparition?  I’ve never heard anyone do it better than Edgar Allan Poe and so I know it can be done.  I’m learning.  I needed to learn from Cincy.

Teach me Cincy.  Help me learn how to speak of these things better.

I felt like I should know that already.  But we physicians don’t graduate with a certificate in introducing elephants.

Trying to do the teaching-thang in clinic or out of clinic, if we want to get anywhere, we can’t do much if we aren’t both seeing the elephant.  Talking about solutions, about treatments, motives or anything that doesn’t redirect each of us back to that specter in some way is skipping critical development.  Counterintuitive, the immediate task at hand becomes more and more simple when there are ghosts about.

He doesn’t want me to take medication because he is afraid of what his mother will say.

Start talking about Me and not about him.  How does Me factor in to deciding on medications?

Smoking is my last vice and I’m not here to talk about it.  I’m here to talk about why I’m tense all the time.

Tension happens when our blood vessels constrict.  Tension increases when our heart rate….

Well, goodness.  You don’t want this from me now on this post.  I’m just trying to talk about that darn elephant.

When things feel complicated, when conspiracies seem to be around, when we hear ourselves naming others to explain our condition, when we avoid talking about something and when we lose Me -> reduce.  Still missing it?  Get even more basic.  Soon we’ll see the shade.  The elephant is there to help us, not shame us.  He’s there to bring us back to Me where everything starts and ends.

Question:  How has the elephant in the room improved or worsened your self-care?  Please tell us your story.

23 thoughts on “The Elephant is in The Room To Help Us

  1. Like the blind men in the Buddhist parable, no two people can agree on what the elephant looks like, or even that it is an elephant.

    I have this tendency to argue the other sides of everything, splitting hairs and never committing to anything. (I’m also doing very poorly at self-care right now.) Still, the above is true. What do we do when the “basic and obvious truth” is disputed, between spouses, between physician or therapist and patient/client? You say illness, I say “I”-ness, let’s call the whole thing off.

  2. FOR THOSE WHO LIVE WITH THE ELEPHANT, HE IS VERY REAL AND NOT AN ILLUSION OR IMAGINARY. THERE IS AN INTERNAL REALITY AND AN EXTERNAL ONE. WE TRY TO TAME THAT ELEPHANT SO WE CAN BETTER FUNCTION IN THE EXTERNAL WORLD. WHILE OTHER PEOPLE MAY THINK WERE ARE GOOFY, IT HELPS WHEN PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT OUR ELEPHANT IS REAL FOR US UNLUCKY TO HAVE ONE SO WE DON’T FEEL MORE ILL AT EASE. I THINK YOU UNDERSTAND ONLY IF YOU HAVE AN ELEPHANT. OR TWO. OR THREE. THAT INCLUDES THE THERAPIST.THAT’S WHY THE BEST ADDICTION THERAPISTS ARE LICENSED AND TRAINED ADDICTS AND ALCOHOLICS IN RECOVERY OR SPONSORS IN THE 12 STEP ROOMS IN MY OPINION. SOME PEOPLE ARE REALLY CURSED. THERE’S THAT ELEPHANT, AND A TIGER AND A GIRAFFE AND A BEAR TOO. NOT ONLY ARE THEY A BURDEN, SO IS ALL THE ANIMAL FEED YOU HAVE TO LUG AROUND.

  3. It’s a bit distracting to have an elephant in the room with you. You’re right. Whether it’s the whole elephant or just his shadow, he’s still there. I’ve loved this image since we first discussed it in Marriage Encounter groups in the early seventies, and, over the years, we’ve had one visit us on many, many occasions – in arguments between us as a couple, in battles (I’m happy to say, not ever terribly serious in our case) with children as they grow up, in discussions with parents, siblings, adult children. Even in Sunday School classes and organization meetings the elephant frequently – and quietly – enters and stands still, waiting to be noticed. It’s sadly funny how often something that large can NOT be noticed but, since my husband and I became aware of the fact that there could, anytime, be a super large, gentle creature blocking the way to understanding and caring and loving, we have always looked for him when things got tough or rocky in our lives. Sometimes – too often – it took a long time to see the form, to recognize the shape, to focus on what was standing there patiently awaiting our attention, but, because we know what to look for, our lives have been the better for having a beautiful beast before us in the fog of our anger, fear, depression, misunderstanding, growing-up. He has made us look at each other, through him, to see what we were missing or over-looking or intentionally ignoring and to acknowledge whatever was in the way of healing and hope and love in our relationships. He has made us a whole and loving family for which we are all grateful. Thank you for the image today. I pray that everyone will find a way to see the vision in their rooms and understand its importance in their lives and in their journey to friend themselves.

  4. ah the elephant in the room. after our daughters accident 7 years ago (she was hit by a truck) and her recovery (8 days in a coma with a brain injury) the social worker and i spent some time together. THANK GOD!!!!! literally. i waited until i knew she was out of danger and our home was settling and she was beginning to heal (WOW THE BRAIN IS A MIRACULOUS PIECE OF ENGINEERING!) and i went to him and unleashed all my fear and grief. HE WAS AWESOME, and i knew i was safe with him as was my daughter. after some time he spoke of the elephant, and the healing process of what we all went through and would continue to go through was like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. i told him i liked elephant and was looking forward to seeing all the ways i could prepare that elephant, different asian recipes, mexican, roasted, etc. use chopsticks to eat. i saw in my mind all the different ways to use up that elephant. and we did. (you can get pretty creative trying to allow 5 people to heal in their own ways!) however personally (and i am sure my family) got damn sick of eating elephant by the end of the first year. we laughed about it and just kept moving forward.

    i have always been the one to see the elephant and bring it up which does not always make me popular! i like the elephant personally. it saves a lot of time skirting an issue to just point it out and be real about it. at least for me, i point out my elephant as clearly as i can see it, and then allow others to see what i am doing about my own elephant. they can do what they chose. i just try to send light and love in their direction and hope that it enables them boldness with their own elephant!

    the elephant is a symbol of truth for me. and it sure takes the brunt of a lot of things. thankfully, its thick skinned!

  5. i’m back for a moment. i love all the images the previous people have responded with. the imagery is amazing.

    often times i think of my elephant as a beautiful painted one. all painted up and swathed in silk fabrics and tassels and shisha mirrors. An Indian elephant ready for some lovely traditional parade through the streets.

    the elephant seems to get its fair share of abuse. all it wants to do is bring us into a new place. get on the back of the elephant all beautifully decked out and see where it takes us.

    i love being able to make these replies because he helps me find my own truth and beliefs.

    i am getting on my elephant and going for a ride to the truth to what is real and present.

    THANKS DOC AS ALWAYS!

    col

    • I love the way you think, Col! I like our elephant, too, and believe that he’s been a really important part of the positive part of our lives. I love your image of your elephant, too. I think I’m going to dress up my elephant because, you’re right, he (she?) does get too much abuse and it’s not fair. He’s there to help…not to be pushed away. Besides, in our case, once our elephant has shown us the way, we don’t need to push him away. He just disappears until he’s needed again..

      • i love your reminder . . . our elephant shows us the way, we don’t need to push him away. he just disappears until he’s needed again.

        our sweet elephant who wants to guide us along the way. and truly when we look at our fears or elephants they do just dissolve away.

        i love when others find the same journey, it helps me to know i am on the right track!

  6. My elephant is normal size; sometimes it gives grieve, but for the most part it leaves alone. I have learned to live with it. It doesn’t control me anymore. When it comes out, I ask myself what is the worse that can happen? It helps me see things more clearly when I have all the facts.

  7. For me, the first task was to see him there. How astounding the ability of humans is to build a cage of self denial around us! Of course, there is that saying about St Paul: “The scales fell from his eyes…” and they did, then I look and there’s this great gallumphing animal whom I have managed, all these years, to help blend in with the wallpaper, and just like a Magic Eye book he is totally obvious.

    Loved this post, Doc.

  8. Pingback: “THERE’S AN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM!” | GoodOleWoody's Blog

  9. My late husband used to find, trap and introduce the Elephant in the room to everyone, especially during a formal family event. It was his way, everyone loved him for his honest, not at the moment, but overall he was adored. Now that he is gone, the elephants are stacking up in the corner and no one is brave enough to call them out. I finally blew and pointed to the elephant. Now I am in the doghouse with my whole family because this in not a behavior they expected out of me. Really only good intentions were behind it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s