In these articles, I explore the wide realm of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and delve into how our thoughts shape our inner worlds, external behaviors, and moods.

The same analogy appears in different places throughout history. The elephant and it’s rider, the horses and the charioteer, all of which are an analogy for the proper place of the emotions and reason. Reason, as you may guess, is the rider. Emotions are represented by the animals. 

An elephant on a rampage is terrifying. That angry, grey behemoth will flatten cars like pop cans and crack trees like matchsticks. Once triggered, there’s no telling what damage will be done. Likewise, two horses yoked to a chariot and running wild are an extreme danger to the charioteer and anyone in their path. When a wild red light is in their eyes, watch out!

Emotions are the same way. Have you ever been so angry you said and did things you bitterly regret? Has sadness ever so taken over a season in your life that you could not even get out of bed? Or you lost pleasure in activities you used to enjoy? Has anxiety ever gotten so out of control that the smallest thing startles you, or ordinary life circumstances make you cry and retreat into a safe space?

These are out-of-control emotions. They are destroying your inner landscape. And, perhaps, taking a toll on your physical health as if you stand in the path of an unreasoning animal.

The key is to jerk the reigns. We must re-learn to recognize the rider atop the elephant, or the charioteer steering the race horses is small, yes, but actually the one in charge.

Reason domesticates emotions. Like a lion tamer, our rational faculty cultivates the emotions, taming them, ordering them, channeling them to good rather than destructive purpose. 

A wildfire has a lot of heat and light but is destructive; in like fashion, a rampaging beast has a lot of power and potential, such as winning a chariot race or hauling heavy loads, but is out of control. The great potential is lost in the disorder. 

Providing a structure for the fire, like a brick fireplace and hearth, allows the fire’s heat and light to illumine a house, cook dinner, and warm a cold night. In like fashion, reason provides the order to the emotional animal and harnesses the potential and power, allowing emotions to properly move us to constructive behavior and enrich our inner lives with warmth, motivation, and textured experiences of the world.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) trains the mind to regain the reigns over the emotional animal. The client learns the cognitive model and how upgrading her thought life can improve emotions, behavior, and even physical responses to stressful experiences. 

If you feel out-of-control emotions are getting the better of you, connect with me today for a CBT session.