Metaphors are stories with multiple levels of meaning that are used to send the message directly to the unconscious mind and bypass the conscious mind and all thethat it has. Metaphors uses symbolic language of the unconscious mind to create powerful “healing stories” which helps people resolve their issues at an unconscious level without their conscious mind knowing that this is happening.
It is great for:
When you tell metaphors, think of it as storytelling. When you tell stories it should have no conscious connection because you are communicating with their unconscious mind. Two great books you can read to learn more about this topic are, Therapeutic Metaphors by David Gordon and Man Searching for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl.
Creating a metaphor in 5 basic steps:
1. Know the problem
Do not proceed with a metaphor until you know what the problem really is. You can do this by simply asking, “How is that a problem?”. Ask other questions to fully understand the problem by chunking down, use the Meta Model.
2. Create the Plot
You can make this up or tell a real life story. Make sure you use characters and objects that relate to the people and relationships that are in the actual situation. If it is made up, start with something along the lines of, “I heard a story once…”
3. Pace the Problem
To have the listener identify with it, have the characters and objects behave in a similar fashion to the way the listener behaves
4. Lead Them to New Resources
The main character in the story should have the same internal resource that the listener is missing. This can be their state, strategy and/or behavior
5. Wrap it Up
Finish the story by having the main character resolve their conflict and achieve their desired outcome.
One big tip for telling a a metaphor is to never end with, “the moral of the story is…” That is not the point of it. Never tell them what they should be thinking. A metaphor creates an empowering picture in the listeners mind.
If you got up on stage and told a story to 100 people, each person in the room will perceive it differently and get something different from it. If you end with “the moral of the story is…” you just stole all their thoughts away from them and replaced it with yours. Now everyone in the room is thinking of the moral of the story and their conscious mind now has the ability to throw it away and it will never help them.
With metaphors and storytelling, allow people to come up with their own answers. Keep it vague and ambiguous for the listener to come up with their own answers.