Brookside Center for Counseling and Hypnotherapy


Why Metaphors Motivate Change

by Patricia Topp

Story-tellers spinning yarns of heroic adventure, Greeks telling myths about the gods and goddesses who personified the emotions, Jesus using parables to call his followers to moral behavior, these and more were metaphors.  They aimed to instruct and change the listener.   They worked because those who listened lived the adventures inside themselves.   We relate any story we hear to ourselves to determine its significance in our life.

We are continuously telling ourselves our life story as we  listen to the inner voice that whispers, sometimes shouts, in our inner ear.  This life-script which is self-constructed, often is not true, but we have heard it so often that we become convinced that it is.  We just "know" that we are not good enough, that we do not deserve to get what we want, or some other negative message.  We can recite chapter and verse on how hard we have struggled to overcome our perceived problem.   We can cite the incidents in our life that "prove" that the life-script which we have constructed is the true one.  No amount of straight talk from friends or counselors is likely to change our mind.  Made your resolutions for the new year?   Forget them.  Calling on will power is not apt to do the job.  What can help is metaphor.

Our dreams are often metaphors.  They are constructs to help us cope with the happenings in our life, but they are often difficult to interpret.  The metaphors which hypnotherapists use are stories constructed in such a way as to parallel the story that we have been telling ourself.  Yet they are just far enough removed from our story that, being in hypnosis, we do not put up a barrier to acceptance.  This   is because metaphor bypasses our conscious mind and feeds into our subconscious.   We do not think, "Yes, but..."

For deep-seated issues, a therapist may use past-life regression therapy.  Neither we nor the therapist need to be convinced that we have lived other lives in order to benefit from this kind of therapy.  Through a series of questions we are led to construct our own metaphor, a parallel for our current life-script.  Then we can more easily see what has blinded us to reality because we seem to be working with someone else's life.   And we all find it easier to tell someone else what to do to mend their life.   Often we are led to see solutions to our own perceived problems.  Then the "Yes, but...," can change  to, "Yes," in our mind.  When we have established a "Yes" in our mind, we have given ourselves permission to change, and behavior follows belief.

For a book of useful metaphors try--

    (Written from a positive/proactive stance.)

        Whether professional therapist or trainee,
            would you like to:
                -become a more skillful therapist?
                -use language in more constructive ways?
                -deal with difficult client problems with ease?

Review a copy of  Stepping Off Life's Sad Merry-Go-Round: Metaphorically Speaking  by clicking on this link.   When the page appears, type in the author: Topp and the subject: Stepping Off.   Click Find Book.  You will find prices, a description of the book, plus a free preview of the book.

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