Coaching Metaphors for a Change
A few years back, some incredulous friends quizzed me, “Why on earth would you want do a half marathon? Why would you want to spend all that time running every day?”
I gave several answers, none of which fully convinced them – or me. I just had a sense that there was something driving me to do it, despite never having run before.
So I kept asking myself: Why do I go out and hours running around the park, come rain or shine? What motivates me?
It wasn’t to try and give a more convincing reply, so much as to make explicit why I was motivated in this area. It sure isn’t because I am a naturally wiry thin guy (I am not). It is not because I love dieting or being slim (I am a hearty eater by nature). It sure is not because of being outdoors when it’s raining (I like creature comforts).
So why would I do that (this is my ninth half marathon)? The reason is altogether more surprising.
Some benefits are kind of obvious: Once the run is complete, it is time to get strength with friends, some of which I don’t see that often. My wife and son are there, and it truly is a chance to go out and celebrate. We have no other plans that day. It is sacred., Time for friends and family. It is a celebration. It is a time to remember what is important and a chance to enjoy quality time together.
That’s kind of a cool benefit of doing the half marathon, but you would be right if you are thinking “there are much easier ways to arrange to meet up.”
Here’s the real reason why running is so powerful: it’s a metaphor for life.
What is a Metaphor?
A metaphor is something that represents, symbolises or stands for something else. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of hope and freedom. The cross or Ankh is a symbol of faith. But your own personal metaphor is something that can help you lead a life that is truly profound and fulfilling.
Did you know that you have metaphors for life that drive you in all areas?
The problem is that these are unconscious and often stop us noticing and acting on opportunities that really would make a huge difference to us.
Running is powerful because it works as a metaphor on all levels:
- It is a journey – like life
- It is hard, as life is tough at times
- There are lots of people along with you. Some are spectators. Some are next to you. Some are faster and some are slower. But you are all on a journey.
- There are times when you have to dig deep.
- You have to be prepared and do your best.
- Unexpected obstacles crop up when you least expect them. (How can family and friends see the event when all the roads are closed off? You didn’t know that muscle existed. I bet you can feel it now…)
- When it gets, tough, you have to dig even deeper.
- It often gets toughest when you are closest to the end line.
- Having a word of encouragement – even from someone you don’t know – can suddenly propel you into action…and…
- When you go over the finish line…you feel a huge sense of achievement.
Here’s what happens inside once you complete the half marathon:
“If I can do this, what else can I do?”
Now, you don’t need to go running to get this sense of achievement. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. But one thing is for sure: you NEED to do things in your life that create a real sense of empowerment.
Key Point: What can you do that creates a sense of good feeling and a sense of empowerment in your life? In other words, what do you enjoy doing well that when you do it, it creates a positive experience that flows into other areas of your life? What else could you do that would prove to yourself that you are resourceful enough to step up to the next big challenge?
Metaphors are being studied very seriously by psychologists and other researchers around the world because they have been shown to be fundamentally how we express and make sense of the world. In my hypnotherapy practice, I can hear the unconscious metaphors that clients are using:
- It feels like I am on a roundabout and can’t get off.
- I am on a treadmill
- I am stuck
- Smoking is a companion
Why do we so many films?
The STORIES (METAPHORS) we see, hear and watch cause us to experience life in a more meaningful and rich way: TV, books we read, films; even the stories people tell us about our families or upbringing. Metaphors can be whole plays or TV shows.
Two of the best movies I’ve seen in a while are Argo and Silver Linings Playbook. If you haven’t seen them, they come highly recommended.
“Argo” is a metaphor that “miracles can happen”: With clear vision, experience, and commitment, one dedicated individual can still make a huge difference. It will still require teamwork, but needs one person to have the vision and to be passionate in their communication to convince others and enlist the support of the right people and resources. Argo shows that, even if the most dire circumstances seem to be happening in our lives, there is still everything to live for and a chance it can turn out OK.
“Silver Linings Playbook”: there is hope; you can change and you can learn new skills. Change your lifestyle and you can improve your level of wellbeing and happiness; be willing to meet new people and stay open to new experiences. Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself and look beyond the obvious gut level responses from family who say to ‘give up’ or ‘get real’. If you come from a sincere place of wanting to change, consistently take action and believe it IS possible to experience life differently, and if you let people support and encourage you where appropriate, then change WILL happen. Take nothing personally (especially expressions of doubt from concerned loved ones) because your family and friends are working through their stuff too and have their own fears that they are projecting. If you are in the process of changing it can make folk feel a bit uncomfortable. That’s OK. Calmly and openly and gently speak your truth where you feel you can, and persist in the direction of positive change. Having a support network is KEY to your breakthroughs, and journalling in your own Silver Linings (insights) book helps.
In other words, go and do things that become “living metaphors” that speak to you: “you can anything you put your mind to.” And pay attention to your unconscious inner metaphors. Make sure you make a written note of them, and find empowering new alternatives. Examples follow…
These are some cool empowering metaphors. As you read them, stop for moment and notice how you feel different inside:
- Life is a train journey with lots of fascinating stops, entertaining passengers and unexpected adventures.
- Money is on tap: it flows to me easily and from all directions.
- Relationships are the spice of life. (they can be very spicy sometimes, can’t they?!)
Rich’s Process to Develop Your Own Empowering Metaphors:
1) Become aware of your metaphors: don’t filter “life is……” go with first thing that comes to mind (You can add more later). Just WRITE it down.
2) What is implied in that? Does it feel good or uplifting?
3) If not, what would be the opposite?
4) Play with it till it feels right
HOW TO DEVELOP POSITIVE METAPHORS FOR MONEY
- Money is tight.
- There is never enough money.
- Money causes pain.
- Money comes to me easily: Money is on tap, flowing like water.
- Money is easy, available and everywhere.
- Money is everywhere, and wants to be spent.
Running is a really powerful metaphor. Sometimes you will have metaphors that pop to your mind. These are the over-arching generalisations you have that cause you to see abundance, expect success or limit yourself. It is really important that you have positive metaphors when you take time to fill in the 4 blanks below:
If you feel limited in some area of your life, then you can change that thought or feeling directly – or indirectly by doing an activity that challenges you. As you change in one area, it will necessarily generalise to other areas. It is very cool. This happens naturally when you read inspirational books or watch fims that give you a different perspective. It also happens when you take time to consciously develop new metaphors.
I have some challenging goals for the next year. When I sprint over that winning line, I will be telling my unconscious mind,
“You can do it. Go for it. I WILL do it.”Google+