The Power of Using Metaphor (part 1 of 3)
One is amazed
By a water-lily bud
With each passing day,
Taking on a richer color
And new dimensions
One is not amazed
At first glance,
By a poem,
Which is a tight-closed
As a tiny bud.
Yet one is surprised
To see the poem
Revealing its rich inner self,
As one reads it
And over again.
— Naoshi Koriyama
Like the surprise of seeing the poem unfold, a metaphor peels back what we are experiencing with clarity and depth. Metaphor informs the present and allows for imaginings of a new future. Using an illustration to describe what it feels like right now, this picture can advise with shape and dimension. A metaphor feels into the contours of the story. A picture explains what is happening using concept, words, and movement. Like a pop-up picture book interacts with a reader in a different way, metaphor works neurologically as a pop-up. The process of making a metaphor enables a person to conceptualize specifically to their situation which allows for the perfect way to imagine new next steps and outcomes.
Let’s Play! What’s it Like?
Are you in a bog with a heavy backpack on?
Trying something new?
Are you a bird with new wings and can’t decide if they are falling or soaring?
Overwhelmed by decisions?
Feel like a bowl of spaghetti, surrounded by noodles, meatballs, and sauce?
Emergence and growth?
Feeling like a bud that is tight and ready to open?
Each of these images captures the present moment in the present-time and connects the mind, the body, and the intuition. A picture of how we feel and think about something informs at many levels because it is engaging. Creating a picture of “feels like” invokes the senses. Make it as vivid as possible. Craft the perfect picture that describes exactly how it is for you.
The Bog: This place can produce feelings of helplessness, fear, or dread. Smell the peat bog. Hear the slurping around the boot. The backpack drags wearily. What is keeping me here, stuck in muck? What is the weight I am carrying? What destination is calling to me to get out of the bog? How do I hold “stuck” in my body?
Baby Bird: Learning to fly feels like what? What am I most scared of? Am I falling or flying in this moment? What will I land on if I fall? How do I want to continue to fly once I have learned? How far up am I? What do I hear? How does this make me feel?
Bowl of Spaghetti: Sitting in this feels curious and visceral. I feel like there are so many choices and options. It’s kind of sticky but appealing. If I pull on a noodle, what is there? What are the meat balls? What makes them different from the noodles? If sauce keeps it together, what is my sauce? Where do I feel this image in my body?
Tight Flower Bud: Closed, ready but not yet beginning to bloom. How closed do I feel? What is the tightness? What’s around me? Am I in a vase alone or in a garden? Where am I gripping in my body?
Step one in making a metaphor is creating the image and scene that exactly describes how you feel right now. It is important work to name and describe what you feel and think about what you are experiencing. Getting that clear is the best place to begin the work of transforming your thoughts, words and actions to what you want to grow. Next week, we’ll explore how to take the metaphor and use the dimension to craft supportive ideas and actions that best suit you. In the mean-time, book your session to sort out your story!