The elephant in the room


Put two or more people together in any situation and there is bound to be divergent views, ideas, clash of egos. And why not? No two people are alike. These clashes will be blown out of proportion if they are not addressed on time.

The proverbial elephant in the room or the elephant in the living room (whichever way you want to call it) refers to the problem that exists. It is something that cannot be ignored.


So why do we choose to ignore it?

Denial is a state of mind where the person simply refuses to acknowledge that an event has occurred. The person prefers to act as if nothing has happened which seems bizarre to people around him. A simple example is that of an alcoholic who simply refuses to accept that he is one. It is to a great extent subconscious and the sufferer is turning a blind eye to the situation. Burying your head in the sand will not make the problem disappear.

head in sand.jpg

In an interesting article on The Psychology of Willful Blindness, Margaret Hefferman  talks about human brain and its likes and dislikes. ‘What does your brain like? What gets the “yes” vote? It likes the stuff it already recognizes. It likes what is familiar.’

What happens in such situations is that the person sees the familiar stuff immediately, but the unknown may register slowly or never in his mind.

She uses the following metaphor from Robert Burton to illustrate this concept: ‘Imagine the gradual formation of a riverbed. The initial flow of water might be completely random — there are no preferred routes in the beginning. But once a creek is formed, water is more likely to follow this newly created path of least resistance. As the water continues, the creek deepens and a river develops.’


Man is a creature of habit. It is but natural that there is an obvious fear of the unknown. As a result, when there is a necessity to incorporate the new, he prefers to stick to his comfort zone and fall into his old traditions and customs. An example close home is my mother who always uses her debit card to shop, but prefers to go into a bank personally to withdraw rather than use an ATM. The logic and reasoning behind that is beyond me!

More often than not it is ego that makes people ignore the problems facing them. This is especially true in personal relationships.


So how do we tackle the elephant?

When overwhelmed by sudden changes, it is alright not to think about them immediately.  It is anyhow significant to remember that this denial can only be temporary. A person may need some time to adapt and adjust to the new situation. The reality is not going to change at any cost.

bull by horns.jpg

Change is the only constant in life and the sooner one accepts it, the better. It is important not to fall into a permanent rut in life.

In personal relationships, it is paramount to talk and sort out the issues, understand the other person’s point of view.


We could

  • Do an introspection and analyse our fears
  • Enumerate the fears and feelings
  • Reflect rationally on the consequences of denial,
  • Discuss with a friend or partner, and
  • Accept facts and the truth.


There is no easy fix to any problem. A complete understanding of the situation is required at all times. Do that and you could say ‘All was right in the world’.


Thank you Google for all the lovely images in my blog…

#understanding #elephantintheroom


Easy Fix



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