How Metaphors and Reframing Support Growth and Understanding
I love metaphors. My right brain-creative side just adores them. They are so helpful to me, because they paint a picture in my mind that is easier to understand and remember than the mere facts of a situation. For example, I could ask myself, “Why do you keep expecting this person to meet your needs?” But, it is so much more fun to ask myself, “Why do you keep going to an empty well?” Suddenly, there’s this picture–a scene in my mind that connects to a new understanding and acceptance. All I have to do is remember the empty well image, and a new brain firing-wiring is created. I can take the next steps to find water elsewhere, rather than stay thirsty at the empty well. See what I mean? I’m a visual person, so for me the images of metaphors are powerful. For others, it might be a song that you can’t get out of your head that just so happens to apply to your life. And for others, a body sensation, movement or posture that creates a new feeling or understanding.
I also love reframing. For all of you left-brainers out there, this one is for you. It’s about cognitive challenging or restructuring to see/think about the same situation in a new healthier, more meaningful way. For example, I might be frustrated and hurt that this person is not giving me what I want and need. I might start to think that this person is quite rude and not very thoughtful. I will probably start forming negative judgments about this person to add to the soup of my hurt and anger. But this soup isn’t so tasty, if you know what I mean. Who wants to eat that!?
Instead, I can choose to reframe the situation and look through a wider lens–a healthier one. Rather than think this person is mean-spirited or deliberately trying to hurt me, I can understand that this person doesn’t have the skills or tools to give me what I’m looking for. The well is empty. They simply don’t have it to give. They might however, have other positive qualities. The well might be void of water, but at least it offered me a place to rest. It helps to step outside of my own experience and find compassion for others and the journeys that they are on. And the different collection of tools, skills, and lenses that they have collected. It’s not their intention to hurt me; they just have other things to offer. Other ways of understanding and relating.
Metaphors + Reframing = Creative Understanding = Growth. Have you ever had your heart set on something or someone only to find out it wasn’t what you were hoping for? And you were completely disappointed because you dreamt for so long about this opportunity, person or thing? And maybe you worked really hard to get it? You put so much time and energy into something, only to find out that it did not bring you the happiness you hoped for?
We all have, right? It’s like that thing, that experience, that opportunity or person was just a mirage. A trick of the eye. A trick of the heart. Just an illusion. NOT the oasis you were dreaming about.
How frustrating. What was the point, you might wonder. Some of us can start to lose faith in our intuition or even our spirituality. However, if you combine this metaphor with the reframing, the light shifts and casts a different shadow. And something else is illuminated that was once not in sight. Suddenly, you can choose to see this from a higher perspective, as if you are floating above yourself, zooming out. Now I understand that the mirage was necessary, because I can see how much progress I have made. How far I have traveled! I see how much closer I am to my real purpose or goal. I see how much I have learned by moving towards this mirage. I also notice that I am still okay, and not ruined in any way. Rather I am full of strength, since I made it all the way to here. And I see now–up ahead–some sights that I couldn’t see before.
Because, actually, if the mirage wasn’t there, attracting me, I might have never moved or tried at all. So, now I’m realizing through reframing that I should thank the metaphoric mirage. This was all part of the grand plan, to pull me along like a beacon showing me the way. But instead of being the destination, this is a point of reflection.
And now I know that there might be more mirages along the way, but I don’t have to be frustrated by them. Or give up. I can zoom out and say, “Wow, look how far I’ve come! Thanks for motivating me to do something and go somewhere, because I hate to be stuck. Thanks for adding tools to my collection of understanding. I will really be prepared and equipped when I arrive at the true oasis.”
Most importantly, that vision or original dream that you had is still there to guide you. You should have high expectations. You do deserve to be happy. And, your vision, dream or whispering messages will help you find and create what you are looking for. Especially if you can reflect on all of the necessary mirages that have gotten you this far.