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The elephant and the rider is a metaphor used by Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis. Many great thinkers (and normal people like myself) have theorized that the emotional mind (elephant) and rational mind (rider) are enemies of one another. Maybe you know that checking your social media profiles will only make you compare yourself to others or feel outraged, but you check them anyway. Perhaps you want to lose weight, and know that cake is the worst thing you can eat, but you still choose it.

 

You would think we should be able to conquer our emotional, impulsive side so that our rational brain can do what it is "supposed" to do. However, research has suggested that the emotional part of our brain is so powerful and so evolutionarily engrained in our decision making, that it serves as the basis for most of our decisions that are not only emotional in nature, but also rational. Even when we look at something analytically, the emotional part of our brain has a say in what we do, before our conscious mind picks up on it. As it turns out, emotions run the show. They are big, ponderous, inaccurate and heavy handed (elephant).

 

Therapy can help you teach the rider to communicate with the elephant. Learn to work with this large lumbering animal. That is how you get your rational and emotional mind on the same path, going in the same direction. It is also why being cruel toward yourself or your emotions will only make you fear your own vulnerability and continuously make you feel only partly connected to yourself. Let's start learning how to talk to your elephant.

Jesse Saland, LCSW-R

23H East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY 

845-392-1460

rhinebecktherapy@gmail.com

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2020 Jesse Saland, LCSW-R

Rhinebeck Therapy

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