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10.29.2014

ELEPHANTS AREN'T MEANT FOR ROOMS


 
 
 
My boss responded to my story, "I can't believe you said that directly to someone."  I laughed. Elephants simply crowd me out.  I am extremely claustrophobic so I address them to get my space back.  I'm not good at pussy footing.  It's the realist in me.  If it can be felt, then it will be dealt.  [Poor rhyming even in the rap world!].

 
 
 
She wanted to know how that affected my relationship with that person.  "...it helped them understand why I said no more times than not.  It helped them know it wasn't a rejection of them, but an affirmation of yes to something very important to me.  It helped them know why I said no and what both of our expectations of the relationship were.  It made me not have to make up excuses for why I couldn't this time or that time.  It freed me up to say no and them to understand why I said it. It allowed them to not feel hurt by no.  No games, no fancy footwork, no hurt feelings or feeling slighted.  It aligned both sides with a huge sense of understanding." 
 
The elephant then left the building.  Was it difficult to do, yes!  Was it worth it, yes!  That smothering, claustrophobic elephant vanished like a puff of smoke.
 
How is stating the most obvious thing in front of you, excluding your own nose, a bad thing?  If you don't speak to it, does it leave?  Are walls and rooms really designed to hold an animal of that size? It's not normal or natural. It is quite ridiculous, very cumbersome, and ultimately very exhausting to squeeze between the wall and the elephant every time you want to move.
 
Elephants actually grow in size by our unwillingness to speak to them.  They are diminished and can disappear completely when we acknowledge there is in fact an issue, face the felt presence with a definition and then VERBALIZE what is taking all the oxygen from the room.  It's got to be a relief to the elephant to be acknowledged.  [Hey folks!  I'm right here.  The ginormous big gray beast with a trunk!]. Elephants aren't bred for captivity and are best set free.  
 
I'm not sure always how the other party always feels about my direct path to a problem. Sometimes there is great relief that they didn't have to initiate the elephant conversation.  No one, including me, wants to upset the Eco balance to return it to its rightful state.  Confrontation though, if done constructively not accusatorily, and focused on the problem not the person, is like opening the windows after a long winter - needed and refreshing.    
 
It can be risky at times to prod the elephant to leave.  People get defensive and elephants are ginormous.  Emotions, room size, the presence of a large animal that wants to be set free make for a possibly volatile situation.  Best case scenario - it's deflated, the issue is faced and resolved.  Worse case scenario - nothing gets resolved, emotions get heated but now both parties have acknowledged a presence that shouldn't be there, even though the elephant remains.  That's a good first step at least.

I don't like to waste time.  Elephants in a room waste my time.  They slow me down, take up heart and mind space.  They lead to further animosity and deeper resentment.  It's not a sign of caring to let them lie.  It's a sign of not caring. 

Elephants in the room are a bit like taking off a Band-Aid that's been on for awhile.  I want restoration and wholeness to the relationship, zen back to the room.  I don't want to belabor pulling off the band aid.  Though pain is pain no matter what, I just don't see the sensibility in extending its ouchie-ness.   

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