Operation SuperCoach – Are You The Proverbial Bull In A China Shop?

I remember thinking about the term “bull in a china shop”.I found a draft for a blog post about it from way back in 2014. Ever wondered where it comes from?

I could not find the origin of the expression – there has been at least one instance of an actual bull in the actual china shop, but the idiom predates that story.

This gem dates back to 1834. [Source]

Whate’er with his feet he couldn’t assail,
He made ducks and drakes with his horns and his tail.
So frisky he was, with his downs and his ups,
Each tea service proved he was quite in his cups.
He play’d mag’s diversion among all the crates,
He splinter’d the dishes, and dish’d all the plates.

Referring to someone as a “bull in a china shop” rarely means actual destruction of a physical kind though. Typically, it’s a way to express a metaphorical clumsiness, lack of tact or mindless aggression that falls short of actual violence. [Source].

“… if you wanted to form a phrase that suggested uncontrolled and uncaring actions with disastrous results, to set a bovine rampaging though a porcelain emporium would be as good as you could wish for”.

I find that many health and fitness professionals struggle with this. On one hand, the media, and sometimes, our clients, tell us that they want a firm hand. So, that’s what we do.

Like this:

[On an unrelated note, this is also what explaining anxiety to someone feels like sometimes].

But then, clients do not get the results they wanted. They get discouraged. They leave. And you stay behind, staring at the floor covered in broken glass.


Look at him, poor thing.

I can so relate.

He just wanted to check out some china, and before he could blink his eyelashless eye, there is broken glass everywhere.

Here few things that helped me to be less… “bull-ish”. 🙂

  1. Realize that you are in a china shop. By default, if you are helping people change, their feelings and emotions, and past experiences, and traumas will be part of the equation. You are in a china shop. Things are fragile.
  2. Realize that you are a bull. Better to err on the side of assuming yourself more bull-ish than less. Learn bull body awareness. Being able to maneuver your muscular torso gracefully around countless shelves lined with bone porcelain cups and saucers will serve you well.

Of course, sometimes this happens instead, and it is not at all bull’s fault.


posted: November 22, 2016