Elephants are Cute…But Pink Elephants Suck

Pink Elephant

“There’s a pink elephant in the room.” We’ve all heard that phase, right? What is a pink elephant and how did it become the spokes-animal for poor communication or things that people are avoiding? If you’re looking for those answers, I doubt I’ll be able to provide them. But if you’re looking for some thoughts about the importance of communication and overcoming pink-elephant syndrome (I made that up), you came to the right spot.

In my opinion, effective communication is at the top of the list (I believe it’s number one) of essentials in relationships. This does not have to be romantic relationships only…it can be at work, with family members, with friends, and even effectively communicating honestly to oneself. To me, a “pink elephant” represents fear…fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, fear of vulnerability, fear of shame, fear of judgment, and on and on and on.

When we solicit the pink elephant to the room, the thought pattern goes something like this, “If I tell her that I’m not happy with how we discipline the children, I’m afraid she’ll get angry with me.” Or, “If I tell him that I feel smothered when he gets upset about me for hanging out with my friends, he’ll be hurt.” Both of those statements might be true, but they definitely remain true if they’re not verbalized. You see, the problem with the pink elephant is that the longer these unspoken feelings go on, the more poor communication calories the pink elephant consumes and the larger that big guy gets. Eventually he will be so large that you won’t know what the issue was in the first place…all you’ll see is a pink elephant dividing a relationship full of resentment.

How do we work through pink elephant challenges? First, honestly talking about “tough stuff” takes courage, vulnerability and walking through whatever fear is being avoided. For me, I have to take ownership of my experience and not make the other person responsible for how I feel, which isn’t easy…this takes a lot of insight and honest self-reflection. I have to look inward and ask myself, “What am I experiencing and what am I fearing?”

So, let’s look at the two examples above for an anti-pink elephant syndrome communication:

* In the first one, if I were to say, “Honey, there’s a part of me that’s uncomfortable with how we discipline the children and I’m curious if you would be willing to discuss it with me?” This isn’t placing blame, it’s saying, “Hey, we’re a team. Let’s find something that feels right for both of us.”

* In the second one, if I were to find the courage to say, “Hey babe, sometimes I’d like to go hang out with my friends and it feels like that can be a challenge for you. Am I reading that right and, if so, can we talk about it?”

All you’re looking for is an opening to the conversation. How your husband, wife or partner hears it might create some defensiveness, but stay present, breathe and keep rephrasing how it “feels for you” (without blaming). I’m not saying that you will solve all of your problems in one sitting…but the opening will occur, the pink elephant will start to shrink, you will gain some courage, and you will start having honest dialogue with those who are important to you.

Look, you are going to be in relationships with others…it’s just a fact of life. You owe it to yourself to be you and speak your truth. If you find yourself not wanting to speak to someone important to you about an issue, look inward. What is it that you fear? Is the fear valid or is it just fear of an uncomfortable conversation? You can even start the conversation with, “Hey, I feel like there’s a pink elephant in the room. I respect and value our relationship so much that I want to talk about something that’s bothering me. You mean that much to me. Are you willing to sit down and talk?” Those conversations are amazing and intimate and will take your relationships to the next level. You deserve that. Paco (my dog) agrees…we just had a tough talk about treats…it wasn’t easy, but it was important (don’t worry, we’re fine) :-). Until next time friend…much peace and many blessings.


Karen Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who helps others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, or dis-ease. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling), works individually with clients and also presents lectures, workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. To contact her or to book a Holistic Coaching appointment, please visit karensolt.com.


Copywrite 2016 by Karen Solt, all right reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Solt and karensolt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Addiction…from Friend to Foe?

Logo1I believe there is a purpose for everything…finding that purpose is another thing. When the topic is addiction, what if the very thing that eventually will kill you saved your life at one point? This can be a tough pill to swallow (no pun intended), especially if you are currently addicted or you are someone who loves and is slowly watching an addict die.

For the last couple of years, I had the privilege of working with homeless, addicted veterans, many who were diagnosed with PTSD (trauma)…mostly from combat, childhood abuse or sexual abuse. As a retired veteran myself, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Since all of these veterans had PTSD with co-occurring addiction, integrating the role that addiction played became necessary for these veterans to quit shaming themselves and to start taking their lives back.

Addiction is one form of “numbing out” or “escapism.” It suppresses feelings and emotions, many of which are connected to the trauma the addict is trying to avoid…and for good reason. Trauma is scary, confusing, and painful. No one wants to have flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety and the other negative symptoms associated with trauma. Numb appears the better option…until numb doesn’t work anymore. A time will appear when the addiction is now killing the person and there remain two options: Get clean and survive or remain in the addiction and slowly die.

So, why do I think addiction might temporarily serve a purpose? Glad you asked. Sometimes “feeling” is too much, too painful, scary, and overwhelming and immediately processing trauma might be too much too soon. In immediately reliving trauma, many don’t make it, as the horrible veteran suicide statistics will confirm. Their traumas were too much, which created the need to “numb out,” which then led them down the path to addiction. For a temporary time, their addiction kept them alive (barely) until they found the will to survive and regain their lives. At some point, if they don’t get the addiction under control, they will eventually die from it…it temporarily saves by numbing and then eventually turns and starts killing the addict.

Obviously, the “healthy choice” is to process traumas, emotions, negative experiences, and how we react to those things as soon as possible…without addiction. My hope is that those suffering with trauma could immediately start the emotional healing process to regain their joy, peace, happiness and freedom. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. It takes time and compassion…segmenting the trauma and learning new coping skills to find peace and, all too often, addiction becomes a part of that journey.

If you believe you might be an addict, start with getting help with your addiction. When you’re clean from drugs and alcohol, you will gain liberation not possible when you numb and you will naturally process your trauma at your recovery pace. It’s a daily beautiful journey and I wish you all of the peace, love, and happiness that you are capable of breathing in 🙂 Until next time friend…much peace and many blessings.


Karen Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who helps others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, or dis-ease. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling), works individually with clients and also presents lectures, workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. To contact her or to book a Holistic Coaching appointment, please visit karensolt.com.

Copywrite 2016 by Karen Solt, all right reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Solt and karensolt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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Be the change…

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The thought, “hell yes, one person can change the world!” passed through my mind recently. That’s big progress, considering the mega-trillion random thoughts that this girl gets to deal with on a daily basis. So friend…some thoughts about that thought: A smile, a hug, a handshake, soft eyes, connection, honest communication…truly, it’s small AND it’s what will change the world. It starts with self-connection, learning to connect to “self” in the presence of others ultimately helps you connect to them…it’s not being afraid because of differences…it’s feeling good and hopeful, trusting that they want peace, love and connection as much as you do.

Last week I was sitting in the Nashville airport looking for Elvis. I was later informed that I was wasting my time…Elvis is apparently in Memphis :). That’s when I had that thought about changing the world, as I was people watching. Anyway, I was on my way to see a good friend in Charleston, South Carolina, which was my first Navy duty station, 30 years ago. I was anxious about returning to Charleston, as it wasn’t one of my best experiences. I was a naïve young girl from the West and had a quick wake up call…the South was very different than the West…it was confusing. I was ready and hopeful for a new Charleston experience. Happily, this time around I found a lot more connection to others in Charleston than I ever expected. I believe that’s because I brought a different me. 30 years ago I was disconnected from everything…Charleston didn’t stand a chance…it wasn’t the place…it was me. I was disconnected from people, from culture, from differences…from myself.

I never wanted to be that writer…you know, the one that quotes Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” But it’s so true and, as much as I want to make others responsible, it absolutely starts with me. I have to connect first, to find myself in another person…I need to give the smile first…if the other person doesn’t smile back, that’s okay…it was a gift from me. Maybe someday he or she will learn to receive that gift. People are defended for various reasons, all of which I know nothing about. Maybe that smile will invoke an exhale of some of that defense…it’s not up to me…all I can do is show up and connect.

The more I write, the more I’m hearing the need for positive vibes…we all need love and peace…we all need connection…we all want to know that it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay! I believe that whole-heartedly. We get through…we adapt…we survive…we thrive. A challenge (if you care to accept) is to connect with one stranger today…just a little eye contact with a smile. It’s small and it’s huge. It just might make his or her day and yours in return. You will connect to amazing pieces of yourself and, even more importantly, you will “be that change.” Ghandi agrees. Until next time, friend…much peace and many blessings.

 


Karen Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who helps others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, or dis-ease. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling), works individually with clients and also presents lectures, workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. To contact her or to book a Holistic Coaching appointment, please visit karensolt.com.

Copywrite 2016 by Karen Solt, all right reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Solt and karensolt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.