What does “ An elephant in your living room?” Really mean? It's "a problem or an uncomfortable issue that is very obvious to everyone, but no one wants to talk about it. It's ignored for the convenience and comfort of those involved". Imagine a ten thousand pound elephant in our midst and us acting as if we can’t see it!! If you really start to think about it , most or many of us are living with an elephant in our living rooms that impact our lives and the lives of others we are close to greatly. I think what comes to mind for most of us are issues surrounding Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Gambling ,Addictions and Infidelity/Adultery. But what about addictions to Prescription Drugs? Family Problems? Family Secrets? Internet/Porn Addictions? Issues with Sexuality, Shopping/Overspending? Work/Hobby Addictions? Anger/Rage? Stealing/Theft? Driving Poorly? Not speaking openly about the loss of a child? Not addressing those with severe health issues and/or terminal illnesses? Perhaps the best starting point might be to sit down with those we love and care about most and introduce the Elephant in the Living Room, sharing our feelings honestly and with compassion. Not to do so is to continue to live with silence and denial, but to share your feelings is to show that these relationships are important to you. It just needs to be done. And the best way is to speak the truth with love. Let me give you a true life example. I have a friend , whose husband was dying. They loved each other very much, and they both knew the husband was terminally ill, but in their efforts to make his final months "comfortable and calm", they didn't speak openly about his terminal illness. Instead, they spoke of the things he would most like to do, and kept their lives filled with physician appointments, getting prescriptions filled, and enjoying favorite foods and movies. They did this while both their hearts were breaking. They both were fearful of addressing the "big" issue of his terminal illness and his impending death. It became the Elephant in their living room. It was only at the very end that my friend tearfully asked her husband "Are you dying?". He responded "Yes, and it's beautiful". Needless to say, she made calls to his grown children (from a previous marriage), and his friends, letting them all share special memories and say loving "goodbyes". My friend and her husband were now also free to share the wonderful memories they had made together, express their love, and enjoy loving touch as the end drew near By finally addressing "The Elephant in The Living Room", love and death could be shared more openly and honestly. And although it was a painful time, nothing was left unsaid. On the other hand my own mother had terminal brain cancer and I not once talked to her about her dying till she could no longer speak. That lack of closure has affected me for sure.Do you have someone in your life that you could speak with love to about the elephant in the living room? Someone that might be facing serious illness and/or terminal illness like the little story above? Perhaps the "best medicine" might be to just hang out and cry with them. Tell them how much they've meant in your life. Or what about sharing with those you love about their addiction (or yours!) and how the best time to get help might be right now. How about family healing from emotional traumas? Sharing with a parent about feeling unsupported and hearing their side of the story. Or telling your children about their seeming lack of support for you in your old age and letting them share with you their predicaments and life situations.We all have them, and maybe the time for healing is at hand.

What if we were just "ready" to finally address the elephants in our living room, with love, and with a willingness to heal? What would that look like for you? What might it feel like?

Is it time to invite the elephant in your living room to leave?

Dr. Ashish Sachdeva

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