The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 5

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In the first post of this series, The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part one, I promised to present a few examples of these fabled beasts and show how to ensure your elephants continue to thrive and live indefinitely.

I also mentioned that while there are a myriad of conditions which result in the creation of an elephant in the room, there is typically commonality to the environments in which they thrive.

  • The owner of the elephant is rarely its master.
  • The elephant cannot survive in an environment of open, honest communication where there are no secrets.
  • “Shoulds” and “ought to haves” are an elephant’s favorite treats.
  • These beasts feed and thrive on guilt, fear, pride and shame.
  • Ancient elephants still exist today; many producing offspring through several generations.
  • The ideal environment for a large, virile elephant is one where secrets are never openly confessed but are known by both the elephant’s owner and its master.
  • Several elephants can co-exist under one roof. The come in many shapes and sizes, as do their masters.

At this point, many who have been living with these elephants in the room may be thinking that it’s high time to face the beasts and get them out of your lives forever. Having some experience in this endeavor, I feel it’s only fair to warn you that the task is not an easy one. Both owners and masters hold strong beliefs that the survival of these elephants is vital to their own survival. The longer these beasts are fed on a steady diet of things left unsaid; of feelings held but not expressed, the stronger they grow:

You must approach the beast with caution, but with strength.

Do not attempt to maneuver around the elephant. It will see this as an act of weakness on your part. Be as direct as possible when addressing an issue.

Try and talk around an issue, and you'll be in trouble. As soon as the beast senses any timidness in your approach to it, it will typically push back immediately.

You must not come to the battle ill prepared. As the saying goes, "Don't send a boy to do a man's job." If you sense your defense is too weak to fight on this particular day, retreat. Live to fight another battle when you're better prepared.

As I said before, they do not go quietly and they will put up a good fight.

Do not underestimate the elephant in the room.

Underestimate it, and your battle is lost before you begin.

But don't give up the fight. You may lose the battle, but the war continues. Maybe you need to bring in the big guns next time.

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to my friend Darlene of Simply Darlene for sending me these photos which inspired this post.

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