Did you ever think about how much we use metaphors in everyday conversation and in the way we think?
We actually use metaphorical thinking all the time. Phrases like ‘walking on air’, having a ‘gut feeling’, and ‘going a mile in another person’s shoes’ are all metaphors.
Metaphors in our language help us express complex emotions that words alone don’t have the power to carry.
We use metaphors to express what we feel. But we can also wield metaphors by boosting our emotional wellbeing and productivity.
We’ll explore how to do that in this post with the help of the following practical steps to apply metaphorical thinking.
How to apply metaphorical thinking
Here, we’ll break down what it means to think metaphorically and how to apply it in a practical way. You can also think of the use of metaphors as a visual way to process your thoughts and feelings. We often have complex and profound emotions that impact our actions. This affects our personal and professional life and can also affect whether we reach our full potential. Let’s get into it.
Start with a concern
Metaphorical thinking works wonderfully for self-sabotaging behavior. Think of something you do or don’t do that inconveniences you. Perhaps you’re nervous about public speaking and your job involves presentations. You may be a procrastinator, which affects your ability to deliver your work by the deadline.
As an example, let’s imagine you’re a blogger who needs to create multiple posts a week to keep audiences interested.
Observe your thoughts
Now, when you’re struggling to write, listen to your thoughts and write them down. You can also use freewriting to make sure you outline all the thoughts you have. You may be afraid that you can’t write good quality content. Maybe you’re comparing yourself to others or believe that an unhappy audience will say something you don’t like in the comments.
Write down everything you think before moving on to the next step.
Tap into your feelings
We just dealt with your thoughts and now you need to get into your feelings. To do this, look for physical sensations and also images when thinking about your upcoming deadlines. If you’re worried about being on time, does the deadline seem like it’s ‘looming over’ you. Your feelings may be like a mountain looming over you as you work.
Maybe, when you worry about how your readers will welcome your work, you see a crowd angrily typing comments at you? Some people feel a tightness or a hard ball in a part of their body. Look for your own signals. When you find these feelings or sensations, observe any color, weight, or any other aspect. Drawing or doodling these things will make them more real and separate from you.
Change the image
Go back to the metaphors or drawings you found out in the last step. Now, take at least three deep breaths and try to change what you saw and felt in a small way. If the mountain seemed to fill the space in your mind, try to shrink it down. Instead of envisioning angry people responding to your content, change their expressions into thoughtfulness and appreciation.
One NLP (Neuro Linguistic Progamming) technique suggests that you add playful music and change the colors you see into something more positive. When you do this, you should feel somewhat different. Keep repeating these steps until you find that your feelings of procrastination are managable or gone completely.
As a child, you may remember imagining yourself as a bird, a cowboy, a hunter, or a ballerina. Each image a powerful means to express deep and powerful feelings. At some point, we reduce our use of metaphors and visual language for self-empowerment and use it to feed more unhealthy emotions.
Managing your feelings and self-sabotaging behavior is a key aspect of emotional intelligence. By understanding and using metaphorical language effectively, you’ll be certain to face any fears and rise to your potential.