Riding the Elephant
“Make decisions from the heart and use
your head to make it work out.”
– Sir Girad
One of the best metaphors I’ve seen to explain the difference between our emotions and our thoughts is that of the elephant and the rider.
The elephant represents our emotional selves. Its massive size and immense strength characterize the power of our feelings, which throughout our lives lead us toward romance, passion, zeal, energy, endurance, etc.
The rider represents our reasoning capabilities. It sits above our feelings, able to see the bigger landscape, plan our direction, calculate our progress, and manage our resources for the journey. When the elephant is calm, the rider can actually steer it down a planned path, on a set schedule. This is when the rider feels in total control.
When the elephant gets spooked, however, the rider is, well, fairly useless. And in danger. As many an African or Indian (and circus trainer) can tell you, elephants can never be completely tamed.
You know this from your own experience. Your feelings are so much stronger than your thoughts, and they drive your behavior far more than you’d like to admit.
There is hope, however, for there is another element to the metaphor: the borders of the path. See, when the elephant is calm, a rider can climb down and construct a set path, with boundaries to help guide and steer the direction of an emotional reaction.
This is actually one of the things we at ScreamFree aim to help you do. Like we discussed yesterday, we want to help you press pause. Then we want to help you climb down and set up some guidelines to help guide your emotional self toward your heart’s desires. Guidelines such as:
• relationship principles to help you understand the dynamics of parenting, marriage, the classroom and the workplace
• personal practices, including self-care ideas, helpful habits, and individual commitments
• educational resources to read, watch, work through, and digest, teaching you more and more about your emotional self
Are any of these “pathway structures” foolproof? Hardly-elephants can never be completely tamed. But that doesn’t eliminate the value of pre-planning.
Each of our hearts, our massive mastadons of desire, wants to move toward what it wants most: love, peace, and prosperity. Our heads can help it get there by carefully constructing a clear path, lined with helpful structural guides and preventative precautions.