What color is the elephant in your room?

In recent weeks I have been watching as two very dear friends navigate the emotions that result from deceit, betrayal, and destruction of the deep trust they shared. It is painful to observe their drama play out and, most obviously, extremely painful for them to live it each day.

Everyone one of us has experienced betrayal of some kind, and the very word often evokes a physical response in our gut. Memories can flood back into our awareness and we sometimes find ourselves reliving moments we thought had been healed and forgotten long ago.

In most situations in my life, I ask myself the following question (and ask it several times throughout the day) – “What lesson can I learn from this?” So in contemplating my friends’ situation, I asked my question and what came to mind immediately was the importance of acknowledging “the elephant in the room.” I love this expression and the clarity with which it conveys the simple truth that important but unsaid or unacknowledged feelings inevitably undermine relationships, plans, and conversations intended to move our lives forward.

I concluded that there must have been at least one elephant in the “room” of my friends’ flailing relationship, something they were not discussing and that they hoped would spontaneously stomp away. So I am writing this piece to remind myself, and anyone reading it, that even when we are alone in a room, in our car, or out in nature, there is most definitely at least one elephant – or perhaps a herd of them – silently hoping to attract our attention.

I promise today to be more conscious of the elephants in my rooms, acknowledging them and then allowing them to roam freely somewhere else. Surely they have better things to do than serve as a reminder to face “head on” unresolved issues in my life and in my relationships. I may wish to ignore them, but eventually that becomes impossible. So I commit to ask myself a second question throughout my day, “What color is the elephant in this room?”

Will you join me in freeing elephants everywhere?

p.s. My favorite elephant is the beautifully colorful Elmer in David McKee’s delightful children’s book of the same name. Elmer reminds us of the importance of being the wonderfully unique individuals we are, different from all others, but happily ourselves.

12 thoughts on “What color is the elephant in your room?”

  1. Hi Sharon – thanks for the reminder that ignoring problems does not usually work. Even though it may be more comfortable at the time to ignore issues, I am convinced more and more that many of our problems result from short-term thinking or seeking of short-term comfort at the expense of the long-term. The Buddhist and Hindu belief that karma carries across lifetimes is the ultimate reminder that every action we take now has a consequence in the future, whether it’s immediate or 10 lifetimes from now. Hugs to you! Helen

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your perspective, Helen, and for the insights you have shared. It is so wonderful to hear from you – thanks for sharing your wisdom!

      With love and a very big hug,


  2. Sharon, what a brave woman you are to bring such a sensitive topic out in the open. You are absolutely right, we all have elephants in our room, including me. Thanks to your piece, I will be dealing with them differently. Lots to contemplate. Thank you for writing so eloquently about something that lurks in our midst more than we like to acknowledge. Hard, but important lessons abound.

    With gratitude,

    1. Kate, so grateful to you for sharing your thoughts. I love your expression “something that lurks in our midst more than we like to acknowledge.” It reminds us of our choice to acknowledge or to ignore issues in our lives. You are so wise!

      With love and a very big hug,


  3. Sharon, Your messages are always so insightful. I will definitely join you in freeing Elephants as often as I can. Sending love and a big hug back to you! Wilma

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Wilma, and for the shared commitment to freeing elephants as often as we can. You’ve made me smile!

      With love and a very big hug,


  4. Hi, Sharon

    People usual handle issue by ignoring, but still holding anger (elephant) about it.
    We can only do ourselves favor by releasing the elephant out from our life in form of forgiveness. It is not worth to let the un-forgiveness consume our life and energy.
    – Stella Chiu

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to share this insight, Stella, and for reminding us about the importance of forgiveness. Very wise!

      Sending a hug along with my thanks,


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