We all have problems.
Some are big and need our immediate attention. Other are small and just plain annoying. Some problems are fleeting and still others, much to our dismay, seem to really like to stick around. The ones that stick are typically very dynamic, multilayered issues that often involve relationships. And sometimes, the pain that you feel from dealing with your issues originates in one area of your life but carries over to affect another area(s).
Many people unknowingly use metaphors to describe what's going on in their life. I think we all have said (or heard someone else say) at one time or another, "I'm not ready to move on because I've got all this baggage" or "I'm at the end of my rope". You may have heard other commonly used metaphors like, "It's been an uphill battle", "I keep hitting a wall" or "He's dead to me".
It is estimated that the average person uses a metaphor in everyday language once every twenty-five seconds.
Negative metaphors are often a sign of deeper issues, that if explored, can provide enough clarity and relief to heal the actual source of your pain.
There's nothing wrong with using metaphors in communication. They're cute, often humorous, and make for interesting conversation! They help to emphasize our point and connect with those around us.
Negative metaphors, however, can unconsciously restrict you and lead to unnecessary suffering.
Pain is inevitable in our human experience, suffering is not. We suffer because we feel powerless and out of control with respect to what is painful. There is always a decision to be made when it comes to pain and suffering. We can allow the pain to take over or we can, in some small way, change it.
So, here's the good news:
Next time you catch yourself using a negative metaphor to describe yourself or situation, challenge it!
First, identify the feeling that relates to your metaphor. Locate that feeling of discomfort or pain inside your body. Then, use your imagination to see your metaphoric image. Finally, visualize yourself doing something within your image.
For example: If you feel like you are carrying baggage from a past relationship, close your eyes and see (mentally create) the image of the bag in your mind. See all the fine details of the bag and what's inside.
- Feel the emotions that come up for you surrounding your baggage. Locate within your body, where you carry those emotions. It will likely be your heart, but others may feel it in their heads or shoulders. Some people feel things strongly in the area of their solar plexus chakra (power center in the abdominal area, above the navel) Use all your senses in this exercise.
- After you have created your mental image, felt the feelings, and used your senses for a full experience, now you're ready to do something with your image.
- If you're carrying baggage, you might want to hurl that bag up in the sky and watch it explode in the sun! If you're carrying a weight, you may want to drop that weight off a cliff and watch it break up into dust that is blown away by the wind! Get creative and follow your instincts.
- Notice how you feel afterwards. Notice how your physiology changed. Did you smile? Did you take a deep breath? Do you feel lighter or more hopeful? These visualizations may sound a little silly or exaggerated but more than words, symbolic images have the power to be very useful in initiating great transformation. In my Strategic Intervention Coaching practice, I use this simple technique to help my coaching clients breakthrough and experience their situation from a different and healthier perspective. Let's just say, it allows you to "see the light at the end of the tunnel" =)