Unconsciously, most of us use metaphors – they seem to be natural in our English language. Why not use them consciously to get the results you really want in your relationship?
What is a metaphor?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea, which is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.
- The snow was a blanket.
- She is a shining star.
- His eyes were diamonds – baseball diamonds, with bags on all corners.
Implementing neuro-linguistic programming in our coaching process with couples, we use metaphors as a way for clients to anchor a desired feeling, experience, or commitment with something unrelated, yet important to the person.
Our brain tends to do this on its own – often in a negative way. We see a specific expression from our partner. Or we hear a couple words said in a certain tone. Or something gets done – or not done. Because of the stimulus, our brain is triggered to think things that are NOT true. Here’s a metaphor, “Because of…, my world is crumbling into pieces.”
Since your brain does this, doesn’t it make sense to use metaphors consciously and intentionally to create the positive outcomes you want?
A client was struggling to leave work challenges at work. In the past, he tended to stew about them on his commute, then talk about them with his spouse immediately upon arriving home. The effect was escalated stress and resentment between them.
Even if his spouse had been having a great day, she knew what was going to happen when he arrived home. Neither one of them liked it, but it had become habitual. “Hi. How was your day?” And the drama ensued.
Through coaching, he decided to install a $5.00 switch on the dash of his truck. When he got in his truck to go home, he would turn the key to start the truck, flip the stress switch, and use the travel time to consciously leave the day’s challenges behind so he could arrive home with a clear heart and mind.
Recently, we were working with a couple who had really struggled in their relationship.
One of their commitments was to initiate a weekly reflection meeting. Specifics are important to ensure things happen, so their agreement is to meet every Sunday morning at 9:00 am at their kitchen table (unless otherwise renegotiated). The purpose of the meeting is to reflect and celebrate successes in the past week (in their relationship and their careers), as well as align their activities for the coming week.
Here’s the metaphor. From the table, they can look out a big window facing their backyard, and since they both love nature, they appreciate this view. To ensure they prioritize their relationship growth, they planted an apple tree and developed their phrase-that-pays, “watch it grow and reap what we sow.”
As an individual, or as a couple, what can you do now, to consciously and intentionally use metaphors as motivators to get the results you want?
- Determine a result that is really important to you, or as a couple.
- Develop a plan or strategy of action needed to get that result (with any specifics to ensure accountability).
- Commit to the plan, or revise it until you totally commit to it.
- Choose something somewhat unrelated (the metaphor) that reminds you of the result you want.
- Commit to use the metaphor, and the plan or strategy will happen, almost on its own.
Will this work for you?
Only you can answer this. However, if you totally commit, and are courageous enough to be accountable to what you determined you would do, it absolutely will.
Will it give you the results you want?
Clarity and intention are super important. I invite you to use this process as an experiment. If the results aren’t quite what you wanted, adjust the plan or strategy to make it clear, and re-commit.
Or, if you are struggling in your relationship and want to make this work, but can’t on your own, you’re not alone. I invite you to call us and let’s have a conversation.