The Power of Metaphor

The subconscious mind processes and expresses things very differently to the conscious mind
The subconscious mind processes and expresses things very differently to the conscious mind

Metaphor can be a powerful coaching tool.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you can’t see a way out? When you talk about it your reasoning goes round and round in circles and there is no solution? Do you feel in those scenarios you cannot change things?  That if only this person or that person would just change or see things differently.

I recently had a client struggling with just that situation.  In the true co- active coaching style we co- created a way forward.  It started by painting a picture in words, based on feelings, perceptions and perspectives.

As a client in coaching, it is easy to get caught up in telling the story. This can be useful to set context.  Very quickly it can turn in to a retelling of old thoughts and past actions. For the coach this story can be intriguing but not in a way that serves the client. Instead together, coach and client can co- create a way through to greater insight and understanding, perhaps to resolution, but this is not necessary. With enough insight, the client can work it out without the coach, empowering them towards greater self- assurance and growth.

A client’s experience of metaphor

This client is an Aikido exponent. I asked her “What would this situation look like in an Aikido context?” She explained being held on the floor, pinned in the back by someone’s knee. It was painful. This person holding her down was scared, trying to stop her getting to a third person. She was frustrated, unheard. This third person was stood a little way off, confused.

This gave her powerful insight into the dynamics of the three- way relationship.

I asked her, ”What would you do in Aikido to get out of this?” She said she would relax. Instantly, the situation shifted to her being released.  She was able to sit with the man holding her down on an even level. Able to relate and communicate. Less fear and frustration were around though the third person was still confused.

From here the client knew which ways she could go to work through this situation.  Therefore she could resolve it for a three way win. The power of visualising a situation gave her a sub- conscious, instinctive perspective on a situation.  Her conscious mind had only seen as full of conflict, frustration and fear.

Sometimes, a more intuitive answer is best.  A great way to access that wisdom is through using simile and metaphor. When you next find yourself in a similar scenario, try it your self, alone, with a friend or with a coach.  See what insights and revelations you discover.

Next time

And if you would to know how it worked out for this client, I will share with you in next month’s blog the power of “being” and how it differs from the power of “doing”.

Over to you

Until then, please share your thoughts, ideas and experiences about this idea of simile and metaphor. How has it helped you in the past get insight? How has this blog or the comments at the bottom of the page helped in any way?  Have you struggled working with metaphor?  Do you have another method that works better for you?  I’d love to hear from you.

Why not………..

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