Have you ever listened carefully to how we talk?
We talk in metaphors all the time.
When things aren’t working, do you find yourself using phrases like this: I feel tied down… buried alive… stuck in quicksand… held back… frozen in place… trapped… It’s like I am standing alone in a boxing ring ready for a fight…?
Or these phrases—do you ever find yourself saying any of them?
It is hard to choose a direction in my life.
I am feeling helpless.
I sense that there is a path there for me, but I can’t see it
I keep getting in my own way.
I can’t see the way out.
I can’t seem to take the next step.
What images come to you as you consider “What is this like?”
Do you notice that each of these phrases is a metaphor? A metaphor is our unconscious inner mind talking to us in images and kinesthetic experience about what the real problem is, and how we can solve it. Hiding right there in the metaphor is the solution, but when we are feeling stuck, we can’t see it.
I have found that working with metaphors can be miraculous, and subtle and powerful and empowering. I have been developing a particular way to do this that is fascinating, fun and very effective.
It starts with someone telling me about their problem. I listen, but then I divert them. I want to know, what is that like?
I want them to sense into what the situation literally feels like, and then find a metaphor that represents that feeling.
Then, I ask the person to draw a stick figure picture of what this set-up is like. (This has nothing to do with artistic ability!)
I always find that when they truly feel into the situation, it is as if an intuitive image emerges right out of their inner mind and their imagination. It doesn’t make logical sense, but it feels exactly right.
Seeing the complete image, they often say , “Oh, this is exactly how it happens in my life! I get it now. This problem feels like a huge bear standing over me with big teeth and claws, blocking my way, and I just fall to me knees in terror. I am three or four years old, and totally helpless and lost! And then I stay there, thinking that I can’t move!”
When you work with a metaphorical representation of a problem by feeling and drawing, you are not just in your head with the pictures, you’re involving your own body in the feeling and the drawing. I am always looking at the picture for something that a person can do in their metaphor with their own muscles and with their own body that will return a sense of movement to them.
This image opens an amazing avenue of expression for your inner wisdom, your inner awareness. Now you can truly see what you’re working with. Often a change just pops right out to you.
EXAMPLE: “I used to do drugs to escape the chaos in my life”
As an example, I worked with a young woman recently. She is 26, beginning to emerge into having a sense of her own life, but she comes out of a really challenging past that is blocking change for her.
She finds that she has always moved towards comfort rather than toward what she actually wants. Comfort has always meant the familiar, and the familiar for her has been full of chaos and judgmental people. Her favorite strategy in the past for dealing with chaos in her life had been to go to drugs.
As a result of the questions I was asking her in our session, she ended up with a picture in front of her that she had drawn, where she could actually see how she was surrounded by chaos.
By the picture she had drawn, she noticed right away that the obstacles were less of a block than she had thought. She saw that instead of just getting high, she could actually move now towards what she wanted.
In a traditional coaching approach, I think we could have talked for weeks before she would have understood this, but she had the drawing right there in front of her that she had done, her unconscious speaking to her. It was a revelation for her.
I have often had the experience of people calling me or writing to me as an EFT practitioner, saying “Can you do EFT on me to fix this problem?”
I think about it so differently. The first thing I respond with is: “I don’t think of us working together in that way. I hold a space for a co-creative partnership to emerge, and we’re in this together. The transformation arises from the energy field that we create together as we connect and engage each other, as we create rapport together.
This way of working with metaphors is instantly conducive to self-empowerment, transformation and movement. I believe that goodness is there natively in all of us. Whether we are working with ourselves or with another, we are sensing into, allowing, and trusting our goodness to bloom and blossom. This is such a different approach from looking for what’s wrong and what’s broken, and trying to fix it.
When we are doing EFT with someone else, it is so easy to fall into asking leading questions, trying to get the person to go in a particular direction that we think would be good for them.
But when you are working with the metaphorical picture of what the problem is like, you’re just asking for the facts. This is a wonderful and useful way to tap your intuition. You, or your client find yourself saying, “Oh! I hadn’t thought of that,” or, “I could do this other thing instead, and that will change everything.” This can happen in a regular tapping session of course, but real change is less likely when we have an agenda or a direction in mind for that person, or even ourselves.
EXAMPLE: “I am desperate to move forward!”
Another good example of this work is a woman who had been unemployed for three years. She had been the human resources representative in a company. She had lost her job because of the economy. She had been looking for another job for 3 years. She was desperate to move forward.
I asked her what it was like when she felt into the experience of being unemployed for so long. She was really scared, and she had a powerful story about unworthiness and the painful causes deep in her past .
This lady described that it felt as if she was in a swimming pool, and she was treading water. She was trying to get to the end of the pool to get out, but the side of the pool where you’d climb out was really slick. It was like it was greased with Vaseline. Every time she would try to grab hold of the edge, she would slip off. She felt stuck there treading water. It was impossible to get a grip, and she was just feeling stuck and tired and helpless.
I have a series of questions that I ask people to develop the image further, in a way that I (or they) can draw. It is a deep invitation to the inner mind to describe further what the situation is like.
As she answered the questions, she noticed that she hadn’t yet tried putting her legs down to see if her feet would touch the bottom of the pool. She was so anxious in her feeling of treading water, slipping off the edge, and not being able to get out, that she hadn’t tried to see if she could actually even stand up on her own two feet.
And then as we worked further with it, she realized that she was so desperate to move forward, she hadn’t thought to look around. She discovered that the right side of the pool was very close to her, and it turned out that this side of the pool wasn’t coated with the slick stuff. Not only could she stand on her own two feet, she could now go to the side of the pool which was very close to her.
After further questions about the picture, she noticed that she hadn’t given her stick figure self either hands or feet! Now, we draw stick figures without thinking about what they are representing. It was just lines for her legs and lines for her arms. But in the context of working with a problem that you’re dealing with in your life, and feeling stuck, having hands is pretty important… Hands are the way that we engage with the world. And feet are the way we stand up for ourselves, and move.
When the stick figure picture was complete, and it felt like a good representation of the problem to her, we tapped through the details of the image. I was only utilizing what she had said and what she had drawn for the tapping phrases. I wasn’t suggesting any resolutions.
As we tapped, a new direction for her “frozen in fear and treading water” situation emerged right then and there. It was just clear to both of us.
And at the end of our session she really felt different. Her breathing had changed. She said things like, “I have my footing now. I have a way to move in the world. I’m beginning to get ideas of what I can do to change my search for a job.” There was movement.
A few months later she got a really good job!
It always happens this way…that time back then was the worst time… I’m sure it’s going to happen again and I am so worried about it. Or, we’ll give the consequences and the effects of the problem, everything that has happened in our lives as a result, or we’ll talk about a diagnosis, or whatever we call our problem, and how many experts we have seen to try to get it fixed.
This is how we tend to report our suffering. We usually have a well rehearsed story. This way of reporting our experience is socially acculturated and culturally acceptable. Carolyn Myss and others have talked about how we bond over our wounds. It is the way of most psychotherapy.
And they are “true” stories. Those things did happen. We do feel that way. We do worry that it will happen again, or it will never stop happening. We have this suffering story, we seek therapeutic help. However, the therapeutic approach can reinforce the suffering story, even in EFT.
We are seduced by our own suffering story about disapproval, not belonging, lack of boundaries, disconnection.
I want to invite people out of their story, so that they can work with the actual underlying structure of what’s going on with them. They can emerge into something new.
Working with metaphors in this way allows a person to experience much more power from within themselves. With the assistance of tapping, they discover within themselves the power to make a difference in their own lives, right now.
I call this work Metaphors of Emergence. For me, the concept of emergence is a spiritually-based term. The process of life is all about the movement and change that happens when similar and very dissimilar things come together. The synthesis creates something new. Something new is always being created. This is how growth and evolution happen.
When we do something like EFT, or any healing modality, we are looking for where life has stopped, so to speak, and we are always seeking ways to re-engage with movement. Emergence is the continual process of life creating itself anew.
Metaphors of Emergence is about connecting with our bodies, the earth, and where we stand, in a generative, positive way.
My intention in a Metaphors of Emergence session is always for a person to learn how to use their own self, their own body, their own muscles to make a difference in a situation. When we are working with an issue, we are often tempted to bring something magical into the situation to make a difference, or solve the problem. Maybe that is a guardian angel or something else, or making a magical change in a situation. That can be useful sometimes to open up our thinking.
But in this work I want people to feel their own sense of spiritual sovereignty. This is a deep knowing that we, ourselves, in the sacred power of our bodies and in “being us,” can make a change. The change might appear to be something very small. And it is happening to a stick figure!
This small difference actually sets a process in motion inside you that can change everything.
If Metaphors of Emergence sounds intriguing to you, I will be offering two teleclasses that will let you explore your own metaphors!
Bright Spirit, Blocked Path
6 week teleclass starts September 12
Move Your “But” (As in, “I want________ BUT I can’t have / can’t do it because_______)
6 week teleclass starts October 31
Registration opening soon!
With my love and blessing to you,