Owning The Elephant
Picture this- you are in a work meeting. You are sitting in the corner- you’ve picked a chair in the sun. How nice! Half way through the meeting you remember you forgot to bring your lunch- the stomach starts rumbling. Come to think of it- the heat from the sun in the previously warm chair is now getting a little too hot.
You’re turning red from the heat...
Your stomach is getting louder...
You might be asking yourself- should I wait til the meeting is done? Can anyone hear my stomach? Am I distracting the people next to me by radiating heat and grumbly noise?
Likely- NO ONE is noticing you! But you are noticing something.
The Elephant In The Room.
Whether its a meeting, social situation, or just a casual conversation- we’ve all felt the tension build as we recognize discomfort. The elephant in the room can be physical discomfort- think being too warm or too cold or having to pee really badly! It can also be other kinds of awkward- maybe someone has a booger in their nose or is sniffling too loudly for everyone to concentrate!
Whatever your situation may be the problem here is not what is currently happening. All humans get hungry, warm, feel tense, have preferences, ect. The problem is that the elephant is owning US in those situations. The awkward tension holds a power over us. We become distracted from the moment and a distance between us and others grows. Allowing awkward tension to build keeps us a bit isolated- something that awkward tension thrives on!
Its time to stop this cycle and for you to become the ring leader!
Name the elephant
Call out what it is that's causing the tension to build up inside you!
Are you hungry? Hot? Lean to the closest person to you and use the tension to build connection! Try a “Woof, did you hear that? I got so wrapped up today I missed my lunch!” The other person may or may not respond but you will feel a release as all the tension that was inside your head now has a little pressure release valve to exit from!
Check your perspective
Often times when we are caught up in feeling awkward we forget something- that other people are human too! We are (and should be!) the main character in our own lives- but just as we are thinking about our own steps- others are thinking about THEMSELVES too. It’s unlikely others are thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you!
Use your Elephant as bait!
This sounds silly but it works- why do we feel awkward? At its core all humans worry about rejection. We worry that if we do or say something ‘off’ we will be alone. But the Elephant in the room has us feeling alone anyway!
Use your elephant to build connection with those around you. When we see someone who can own every part of themselves and express their strengths and discomforts clearly it enhances our trust and paints the picture of a confident person! The more confident we feel and appear- the more attractive and contagious that spirit is. Even if it feels weird- Expressing our humanity and showing others how we meet our own needs in a situation makes people feel safe around us which enhances connection! So if we are too hot- move seats! Hungry? Eat!
Remember- YOU are the ringmaster. This is YOUR elephant. Acknowledge its there. Treat it kindly. Watch how your life changes!