The Bull Fight

I saw this amazing (if unpleasant) sort of bull fighting on TV whilst on holiday in Portugal this summer. One little man, designated by wearing a green hat walked out into the ring and stared a huge great bull in the face. When it charged at him he positioned himself in between its horns, catching its head square on. Whilst being thrown around like a rag doll, another seven little men ran in behind him, catching and holding him up.

They slowed the bull to a stop and got it under control to the huge applause of the crowd.There were so many endearing similarities to life in this odd little spectacle. The bull could represent many things, a fear that is out of control or a situation that is dominating your life. These things are always big and frightening. Our natural if unhelpful coping strategy is to stay out of the circle of engagement. It makes much more sense to keep out of the ring if we are not to get hurt. The long-term difficulty with this approach is that the bull remains untamed, frightening and often can dominate us from a distance.

In confronting the bull head-on, the bullfighter was realizing that it could be tackled safely. Even when the bull charged, the man stood his ground. So often our resolve to deal with an issue is broken in the first seconds of engagement. To be honest, if I had been that man I would have run for my life! But he stood still, placing himself between the two horns.

The reality was that our little bullfighter couldn?t deal with the huge strength of the bull on his own, he needed help, which came in the shape of his seven friends. So often we try to bravely tackle our issues on our own, only to be disheartened when they get the better of us. Getting support, means giving up pride and embarrassment, it is leaning on others when things get too much. Our bullfighter is lifted up, given strength and encouragement as he brings the bull under control.

Ultimately the bullfighter and his friends are containing the bull. They didn?t kill it, they just stood still until it had calmed down. This was such a powerful psychological picture. The potentially damaging emotion is not killed or removed, it is just held present. Suddenly this angry and raging bull looks like a placid milk cow.

So what can we learn from this odd picture? It is up to us to confront the wild bull in our lives, avoiding it does not really help. Enlisting the support of friends and carers when we are dealing with something is a sure road to progress. Ultimately our goal is rarely to be rid of an emotion or relationship, but to bring it under control, establishing appropriate levels and boundaries.

Will Van Der Hart, 16/06/2006
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