Having an Elephant as a Pet Was Severely Limiting My Opinions

Having an Elephant as a Pet Was Severely Limiting My Opinions

Here are three ways to maintain and downsize it.

Can you imagine?

It takes up a room full of space. Needs food by the truckloads.

And walking it on a leash? Forget it! It is you who is going to be dragged around.

We all have pet elephants. Oh yes, we do. You just haven’t realized it yet.

They live and take up space in our minds. They implore us to feed them with puppy eyes, and we oblige.

And no, you cannot contain them with a leash. The elephant has a free rein in your mind, stomping around at will.

It is as if my opinions don’t count at all.

They start as tiny, needy voices that grow with time. Enough to drown out the one sane voice trying hard to be heard.

Mostly your own.

Finally, they take over your opinions.

How often have you been told what is an acceptable way to be, and your mind was telling you the opposite?

From people older than us at home or those more experienced at our workplace. The theme is the same: I know better, so listen to me and do as I say.

Keeping elephants as pets is severely limiting.

If you want branch out on your own, organize your thoughts and make a difference to yourself, start by recognizing and asserting your voice.

Let your beliefs, thoughts, and opinions be heard.

If they are wrong, you can correct them. If they are outdated, update them.

By remaining within, they don’t get that chance.

Unlike wine, unexpressed thoughts and opinions don’t age well.

Get them out in the open and be ready to become a happier, healthier person.

Here are three ways you can isolate your voice from the cacophony and let it be heard above the din.

Ask questions. Listen to the answers.

Take personality quizzes that are available free online. Ask your friends to give you feedback. Get prompted to ask yourself questions.

Your answers may not be truthful in the beginning. See how much you have been conditioned to give socially accepted responses? But with practice, your authentic voice will emerge.

When you start getting honest answers, you’ll see how you can be a better parent, sister, athlete, boss…. There are just so many areas of life you can questions.

And then be content with answers that don’t change as you do – your principles. They make you uniquely you.

I have not changed my opinion on eating what feels suitable for me when it feels right. No amount of savoury food on the table, goading from my friends or pressure to belong makes me eat what I don’t want to.

I’ve succumbed too much to the “finish everything on your plate.” trope. When put across this way, as my friend and writer Julie has, you get the validation you’ve been looking for all along.

It took me a long time to make up my mind and stick to my guns. It happened when I listened to myself.

Spend time by yourself. Let the elephant graze.

Spending time with myself is my fifth favourite activity. I don’t need a book, a phone or a notepad, though I usually end up with the latter to scribble ideas in.

I am usually walking or seated by myself, observing passing humanity. If I am on the hill, then also the dogs, birds and clouds in the sky.

There is endless fascination in observing people, pets and nature at work.

This is that time. I let my mind wander like a monkey. The shape of that tree reminds me of the copper beeches I saw in Norway. Oh Norway was a great trip. My parents were so happy. It was peaceful but cold. I should have got my jacket, it is windy here. And so it goes.

It is also that time when my voice emerges, free of judgement from others, free of being forced to fit in. It is unequivocally mine.

We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.

Time by yourself is the wave your opinions will ride on. Don’t let them crash on the beach.

Trust yourself more

Even as I write this article, I am second-guessing myself. Is this something I am qualified to talk about?

How much can I harp on finding my voice? Does it not seem selfish?

But then a stronger voice emerges in this spell– an assertive one saying go ahead and put it out there.

As my friend and creative writer, Amey says, once an idea leaves you, it belongs to the world to make what they will of it. Your job is done. Move on to create beautiful things.

Trust your learning, life experiences and your intuition. You are your best guide, not your boss, mentor or parents.

As an introvert, I had it tough. I was never the voice in a room. Forget being the loudest.

I’m still that way and I am okay with it.

The loudest bird (a cousin of the early bird) gets the (probably deaf) worm, my professor used to tell me when I was a fly on the wall in group discussions.

If I were that worm, I’d have disappeared underground to save myself before the loud bird swooped down.

It took me a long time to stay above ground and ignore some loud birds.

The answers to downsizing elephants in our mind often lies within us. We must build up the courage to seek honest answers to questions we ask ourselves.

And even more courage to change those answers as we become better versions.

What is my pet elephant up to these days?

Well, it is now a baby elephant and not as troublesome to maintain as it’s mama.

It still holds me in check sometimes as a voice of reason, but it occupies a smaller stall and no longer eats my head for food.

And fat chance of it dragging me on a walk. It knows my opinion on that matter.

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