Time to Deal With the Elephant in Your Head

by Andy Wood on December 27, 2010

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Photos, Principle of Abundance

Can we talk about The Elephant in the Room? 

Most of the time we use the phrase to describe the unspoken but obvious thing between two or more people that no one is talking about.  There’s a different elephant, however, that I want to explore. 

It’s the one in your head.

I don’t know what yours is doing, but the elephant my head likes to dance.  Badly.

The Elephant in Your Head is the one or two things that appear in every mental photo.  The two or three things that interrupt – albeit silently – any patterns of forward thinking.

What do you do when you’re the elephant in the room?

Identifying Your Elephant

The Elephant in the Head for me are those things that ubiquitously appear in virtually every conversation – especially if the conversation involves creating a compelling future. 

Look at it this way:  When you start dreaming about making tomorrow better than today, what mental image or voice begins to object, or tell you how it’s never going to work?  That’s your elephant.

When somebody starts gushing about what a success you are, what mental or emotional theme shows up to argue with them, at least in your thoughts or feelings?  Whatever it is, that’s your elephant.

Heck, I’ve gotten this far, I may as well just go ahead and meddle… Which of your New Year’s resolutions have the most frequent flyer miles?  A couple of years ago I figured it was time for something different when my daughter asked me about my resolutions and I said, “You know – the usual.”

Still not sure what your elephants are?  Here’s a sampling to get your wheels turning.  Feel free to chime in with your own.

  • Your idols – those ambitions, priorities, or relationships that order your day,drive your spending, or hold your imagination.
  • Your self-defeating beliefs – the ideas about yourself , others, or God that block your progress.  Usually come packaged with words like “I am…,” “People are…,” or “I must…”
  • Your fears – rational or irrational, at this point it doesn’t matter.  Put whatever label you want on it – anxieties, hesitations, sheer terror – if it keeps you from moving forward, it’s an elephant.
  • Your desire for control, and the addictions/compulsions that control you. 
  • Your need to lose weight and improve your energy and cardiovascular health.  (Sometimes we really are the elephant in the room.  And yes, I said “we.”)
  • Your financial mess.
  • Your broken friendships or fractured family relationships.
  • Your life-sucking job or career.

What makes the Elephant so big is that it requires huge change.  Or it looks hard.  Or it’s so outside the standard routines and schedules that it adds stress from other areas in order to get ourselves off dead center.

Elephants don’t get dealt with because it’s easier and quicker to deal with the mice in the room.  Or deal with nothing as we turn the TV on.  What makes them elephants is that one bite, or one meeting, or one meal, or one sit-down at the computer keyboard won’t finish the job.

After a while, we become so familiar with The Elephants in our lives, that they become part of the mental family.  Example:  I have learned to look at myself in the mirror in such a way that I look 2-5 pounds skinnier – but that’s just the Elephant inhaling or something.

Face it – It’s easier to feed the Elephant than eat him.  Whenever I start thinking about getting rid of the Elephant, the Elephant (and some of his choicest friends) says, “Here we go again.  How many times have we gone over this?  And how many times have you tried this?”  (Does this sound at all familiar?)

After a while, the procrastination or discouragement kicks in, the “equal and opposite reaction” fires up, and life goes on, with the Elephant in My Head just getting fatter and fatter.

Confronting the Elephant

As the old saying goes, the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  But in practical terms what does that mean?

For starters, unplug your mental microwave.  Elephants don’t grow in our heads overnight, and they aren’t reduced to size overnight, either.  It’s time to lay hold of some long-haul thinking.

Also, you’re going to have to let some things go, at least temporarily.  These could be conflicting priorities, stupid distractions, petty offenses, or trivial pursuits.  It’s hard to eat the Elephant when so many other things are eating you.

Celebrate little wins.  Maybe you do need to lose 75 pounds (jus’ sayin’), but you’re more likely to do so if you find a way to celebrate losing the first 10.  Maybe you do need to pay off all 18 of your debts, but knocking off the smallest first will help you gain or sustain momentum.

Shine a light on your elephant.  I h-a-t-e this one, but it’s true nonetheless.  Turn the elephant in your head into the elephant in the room by talking it out with somebody.  Could be a counselor or accountability partner.  Could be a support group or spiritual community.  Could be a national TV audience (don’t recommend that) – just reduce the weight of the Elephant by getting some people to help you carry it.

Find a way to appropriately invest some money in elephant elimination.  Your heart really does follow your treasure.  So if your treasure is moving into dealing with your biggest barriers, you will be more likely to follow that investment with a commitment to see it through.

Most important of all (I saved the best for last), enjoy the Lord as your Ultimate Elephant Eater (bet you won’t find that name for God in the Bible).  He is still and always bigger and stronger than the biggest Elephant in your head or heart.  He still sets captives free, brings peace in the storms, and laughs at people, ideas or devils that get too big for their britches.  Talk to the Lord about your Elephant.  Exercise His authority over it.  Take every thought – even the big fat ones – captive in His name.

Let’s make an appointment.  This time next year, let’s get back together and celebrate the breakthroughs that come from reducing our mental elephants down to size. 

Let’s also make a commitment not to do this in isolation.  Encourage! And let others encourage you.  Mental elephants wilt before encouraging people.

Let’s make the coming twelve months The Year of Eating Elephants… one tasty bite at a time.

Pam Switzer December 27, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Amen & Amen!! Unfortunately, I have a family of elephants that have moved in and your encouraging words have made me want to do more to evict them!! I pray for your elephants, also, Andy. I know this has been a hard year for you. May God Bless you in the coming year!

Julie December 28, 2010 at 10:00 am

I love this posting and I love your website. “Randomly” found your website this year (thank you God) and can’t tell you how many times your words have blessed me this year and I’ve passed onto others. Don’t always comment, but almost always read your thoughts. Thanks for the dinner invite….I’ll be taking a stab at that elephant!

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