Elephant in the Room
Updated: Nov 29, 2020
Ever reflected back on your unique life story and noticed clear moments or even brief periods of experience that have shifted your life's course in a major way? These can often feel like an initiation of sorts. For some, these pivotal moments may be when we were in the limelight like the successful birth of a child or completing a marathon. While difficult in many cases, these experiences have overall positive associations in our mind. We can disclose them openly with pride to pretty much whoever.
For others certain pivotal experiences have a different nature that can feel traumatic, becoming hidden beneath the surface or are extremely guarded. Those experiences can turn into an unseen "elephant in the room". This idiom basically means that there is an obvious problem or difficult situation that people do not want to talk about. In the most extreme cases typically some trauma is involved. These elephants can take up a lot of mental space with wide reaching impacts on our lives but are often left raw, repressed or unprocessed.
Peers or loved ones may or may not know the nature or details around our massively impactful elephants. As such, those who carry an elephant can feel inauthentic, unexpressed, ashamed or like they are hiding something until they find a way to integrate that elephant into the framework of their greater life story from an empowered place.
These experiences are better served if we do not let them define us. Ultimately they do not define our identity (who we think we are) but sometimes it feels that way. Rather than labeling ourselves by the experience we can label the experience itself and reframe it later as a necessary part of our journey. In time we can look at it as something that made us stronger or widened our perspective allowing us more compassion. Eventually finding a way to accept and even embrace these unique experiences leads to an opportunity for deep self acceptance that is not possible until we integrate them. What are some examples of major elephant in the room experiences that people carry? They could be... Trauma from war or extreme violence...
Traumatic loss of loved ones...
Going through financial collapse or bankruptcy...
Miscarriage, abortion or other trauma around having a child... Mental/ psycho-spiritual breakdown... Abuses of various kinds... ....Or any number of other things that made us feel like we lost a sense of control of our lives. Dealing with our elephants is a delicate but important matter for our growth and needs to be handled with care. It takes a big dose of courage, vulnerability and a safe container for processing.
The elephant I carried for a long time was a spiritual crisis that I experienced in the spring and summer of 2007 when I was 20 years old. This is also known as a spiritual emergency. I had never heard of either term despite being 3/4 of the way through a degree in Psychology. In fact, I had no idea what was happening to me at the time and thought I was going crazy. As time goes on I’ve heard much more about this specific elephant and hope my story (for another post) can help others normalize their experience.
If you have your own elephant, are you willing to look at it? Are you willing to try to embrace it, let go of your victim story around it and find your power on the other side of it?
Our wounds can be gateways to transformation if we have the courage to face them.