For the Casual vs. Serious Visit

Good News and a Concern

The good news is that our data show that many people are looking at and spending time with the therapeutic metaphor creations I have posted. I am pleased to share them and always delighted when people write and tell me how a metaphor has been meaningful to them. But out of this good news has arisen a bit of a concern for me. When Judith and I first got the idea to share some of my writing with others on our website, I envisioned just putting up a metaphor or two and that would be it. But now with the nice response we've received I find myself rummaging around in my past writings, digging deeper for other things that I might share, and refining and adding to them as I go. And so the number of postings is starting to grow.

The concern I have is the very same one that kept me from publishing my metaphors a few years ago. Publishers I spoke with wanted me to do a book containing all my stuff, whereas I was wanting to publish the metaphors one at a time, and separately. I understood the practical considerations of the publishers, but my goal is to help people, and the counselor and educator in me feared that if you group these together then people would be likely to read them one right after another and then move on to other things. If that's done readers may enjoy and see the point of the metaphors, but they are not likely to internalize or remember them for long-term use because they were skimming along the surface. Well, now suddenly I find myself sharing on the internet and lo and behold the metaphors are lining up as a group. That's nobody's fault, it's just the nature of the website venue, but still I may be shooting myself in the foot in terms of the extent and depth they help unless I take a moment here to give some guidelines to readers. 

For the Casual Browser:

If you have stopped by the website here for the main purpose of curiosity and maybe getting a few "Aha's" and chuckles then it will serve your purposes fine to read straight through as many of the metaphors as you like and have time for.


For readers seriously looking for help with their emotions and personal issues:

As with most kinds of teachings the real learning and value comes in the application of what you read. If you read more than one metaphor at a time there is a strong chance you will not get to the in-depth self-application part which is where the real value lies.  

So to get the most from these metaphors I would suggest the following:

  • Pick one, read and maybe re-read it, and then superimpose it over one or more issues or problems going on in your life, i.e., apply it directly to yourself to decipher not only what may be causing your hurt or worry or lasting anger or whatever, but what you can do differently to view and respond to that problem more calmly and effectively. It is very often helpful, especially with visual learners, to do this applying in writing with paper and pencil or via computer. In the next day or so I will be adding a Worksheet at the end of the Twisted Arrow metaphor to assist you in doing some of this processing and applying. Writing and using worksheets do take more time than just thinking something through in your head, but heads have a way of getting cluttered or distracted or forgetting, whereas writing has the distinct benefit of being able to be re-read and maybe refined at any time. So the next time you're introspecting you won't have to reinvent your own wheel. It's rather like the advantage of communicating via email vs. the phone. The former allows you to re-read and think more before you respond, and hence your response is likely to be more beneficial and less contaminated with "attitudes" and defenses.
  • A second suggestion I would make is to do this exploration and application with a friend/partner if it is possible. (Spouses often are not real good partners for this since they frequently have some vested interest in the outcome of your processing, but you can be the judge of that.) In counseling, of course, the partner can be the therapist. But you can also work with other partners. (I have actually used them in groups of people where each person applies a particular metaphor to their situation, then shares the "analysis" with the group, and then the group members pitch in and affirm, extend or refine the analysis. Then another person takes a turn. One of the benefits of having more than one person involved is that the partner(s) is also learning the metaphor more deeply as he/she helps the other! (By the way, in pairs or groups once the initial applying has been done there is much likelihood that the participants will go beyond the metaphors or will apply them to still other issues. Either of these is fine.)
  • Third, I would strongly encourage you to create what I call a Toolbox of Techniques for Self-help. I found myself writing about this to a woman just recently and that reminded me to pass along this important suggestion. This kind of Toolbox is a list or chart of titles or identifying phrases of different techniques, insights, or self-help strategies you have learned (from me or anyone). For reminders, you may want to jot a few key words or phrases next to each title just to cue you back into each technique or insight. As a counselor I created such a toolbox and used it very often. Over the years the list has gotten longer and longer and I would never remember half that stuff spontaneously. There's just too many items, and too much else on my mind. It has been such an effective aid for me that when I was teaching counselors I asked them to make a Toolbox for themselves. I encouraged them to glance over that list any time they were about to deal with some heavy stuff from a client or, heavy concerns of their own, so as to remind them of the many tools in their repertoire. You yourself may have a good brain, but most likely it is a busy brain and less-used strategies and insights are likely to get pushed down underneath more current learnings. To count on those insights emerging spontaneously as you self-explore doesn't seem very realistic. Particularly because these times of self-exploration are likely to occur when you are feeling upset to some extent and not thinking terribly clearly in the first place. Whereas, if you've made a Toolbox, however elaborate or crude you choose, then all your various tools will be much more visible and available to you when you're hurting or down or angry.