Last night, the following sentence came to me in my sleep:
“Every tree needs to be trimmed.”
I didn’t immediately start to analyze it. I don’t usually do that with metaphors that come to me on their own. But I also knew that this particular metaphor wasn’t just a random thought that popped into my head.
For a while now, I’ve been thinking about my professional path. I’ve been thinking about my destination, what I need to do, the things that most deserve my focus and attention? And, the answer, it seems, came to me in my sleep.
When this happens to me, when a metaphor comes to me in my sleep, I always write it down. Then, I do nothing. I give it a few days to marinate in the feelings it awoke. I allow myself to enjoy the melody of that inner voice leading me, the sense of oneness with my intuition.
And, once I feel that I’ve given it enough time, I start searching for answers.
Sometimes, I search for the meanings of metaphors on the internet. Others, I ask myself about the parts of them I understand. And, sometimes, I talk about them with someone who could offer some insight.
This time, I went to my partner: “Why is it that trees need to be trimmed?”
His answer was short, but it explained everything I needed to know. “The reason to trim a tree is to direct all the strength into its healthy branches, so that they can bear fruit.”
Did I need more than this? No. In an instant, I knew that my subconscious was telling me it was time to do some trimming. It was saying that I need to remove everything that’s acting as dead weight so that all my energy can go towards the things that will bear fruit in my work.
Where Lies the Power of Metaphors?
One of the elementary roles of metaphors is to untangle the complicated strands of our thoughts. They do so because they act as a bridge – one that unites the rational and the creative. They create synergy by connecting two powerful inner resources: logic and intuition. That’s where their power lies. And that’s why they’re so good at showing clients how to reach the essence – the answers they’re looking for.
When working with clients, I love using metaphors. And my favorite ones are always those that my clients find themselves, which is why asking the right questions is so important. But, sometimes, I also share my own similes (or those I’ve heard somewhere) because they drive the type of learning needed when my clients are going through the coaching process.
And it’s not just metaphors in words that can propel growth. Images can be just as effective.. As can be songs, poems, and smells…
Our minds and our senses receive millions of bits of information every second. Which means that we often know things we might not be aware of. We only focus on a tiny fraction of all that info, restricted by the limits of our working memory. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of that information is lost. It stays with us. And, it illuminates that inner voice, giving it the wisdom to know much more than what we’re capable of consciously processing.
In other words, metaphors are the beam that can light the path of change. A sentence, a word, an image, or a line from a song can be a powerful reminder of what we need to do to bring about a positive change.
Try Discovering Your Metaphors With These Questions:
- How can you describe your state in a single sentence in a single sentence? It feels like..
- If you were in a fairytale, what would it be called?
- If you could describe your life with a song, what song would you choose?
- What lyric describes the things you want from the future?
- What movie character has the traits you need in life?
The list is not exhausted, there are billions of powerful questions a coach can use, or you could use on your own to get to your powerful metaphor.
You can also look for metaphors anywhere you can: fairytales, stories, novels, movies…
You can choose your favorite painting, a pop song that cuts to the core, or a photograph that speaks to your soul.
You can also start with the metaphor I gave you at the beginning of this article. Ask yourself: what branches need trimming in your life if you’re looking to maximize your yield?
And, if you want a sparring partner who will help you discover your metaphors through coaching, I’d be happy to be that person for you.