I am still exploring how we use metaphor in our lives, to gain understanding of our world and to communicate with one another. I blogged about metaphors such as “I felt like I was thrown under the bus,”: and how my knee pain was “telling” me to “slow down.” Well yesterday, I was talking to a dear friend about a decision I want to make about “next steps” (that’s a metaphor!) in my life. She said, “Let the path reveal itself.” Wow! For some unconscious reason, that little phrase really helped me to understand just what I should do. Be patient. Let things unfold. Once again, the metaphor said so much more that “trying to figure things out,” which is want I do a lot. The metaphor just made things fall into place. OK, yes, falling into place is also a metaphor. They are everywhere!
I was delighted to attend a presentation by Jean Watson, PhD, RN while cruising the Caribbean. She said, “People are as healthy as the stories they tell themselves.” I have pondered that statement, and had an interesting experience this week. My knees have been hurting and inflamed for about a week. It has been very difficult going up and down the stairs and I’ve had to slow down. The story I told myself had to do with the cause of the inflammation – change of diet, anger, bad luck, any excuse to find blame. Well, I have recently come to the awareness that I need to slow down and not be in such a hurry regarding a decision I need to make. Once I realized that, I understood that my knee pain was also “telling” me to slow down. Well, it was sort of “forcing” me to slow down. I thanked the knee pain for communicating this important message, and when I did, the pain left! I feel great and I can slow down without experiencing the knee pain. This was the perfect metaphor for me. I’m glad I realized it before I believed the story I was telling myself about the knee pain.
I spoke with a girlfriend a few days ago about how one of her friends spread an untrue rumor about her. She told me all the details and I understood her to feel betrayed, angry, and worried about the future of her relationship with her friend. Like a good nurse, I used reflective listening and said, “That sounds like a feeling of betrayal.” Interestingly, she denied feeling betrayed, struggled for the exact right words to describe what she was feeling, and finally settled on “being thrown under the bus” as her main feeling about the incident. I reflected that she must be angry, and she said, no, she felt like she was thrown under the bus. When I finally quit trying to identify/reflect her feelings and instead used her same phrase, our communication seemed to go much better. I said, “So this feels like you’ve been thrown under the bus.” To which she replied, excitedly, “Exactly!” Once I began to use her own metaphor, she felt heard and understood. Seems like a simple strategy, but so very important and effective. So next time someone tells you they feel like they’ve been thrown under the bus, or stabbed in the back, or made mincemeat out of them, reflect those exact words back to them and explore the metaphor. See what happens!