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  • Writer's pictureLeslie J. Sherrod, MSW, LCSW-C

The Elephant in the Room

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

When my daughter was five years old, she attempted to sneak one of her favorite stuffed animals to day camp. As we walked out the door, I noticed she was unusually quiet. She kept a straight face and looked up at me from the corners of her eyes, as if I would not notice the huge, purple, tutu-wearing elephant she was holding behind her back. 

As I still chuckle about her efforts, I am reminded of the phrase 'the elephant in the room.' You've probably heard this idiom before. You know, when there is something obvious that everyone sees, but nobody talks about or addresses? We all have elephants in our personal lives, our workplaces, and our households. There are issues or concerns that we know exist, but don't address with our loved ones and family members, or even ourselves. Whether it's underlying tension, failing communication styles, bad habits, emotional baggage, addictions or mental health concerns, we find many reasons and justifications to keep disregarding these blatant matters. Embarrassment, shame, or simply just not knowing what else to do can cause us to do nothing. We walk around quietly pretending that all is okay, as if nobody else will notice - or even be affected by - the huge, purple, dancing elephants protruding behind our backs.

What do we do with such things? First, acknowledge that an elephant is there. Don't let guilt or shame keep you burdened. You don't have to go through life with a weight on your back. Freedom is possible. Seek out appropriate resources for resolutions and assistance. For every problem, there is a solution. Sometimes it's just a matter of doing research, reflection, and reaching out for help. 

Elephants are huge, heavy, and not easy to move, but admitting that they are there can be a powerful first step.

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