Metaphors and Why We Should Use Them
We use metaphors in every day life to convey the way we feel, or to explain things simply. Metaphors are a ‘figure of speech’, in which we apply a word or phrase to something where it is not literally applicable. These include:
- night owl
- rollercoast of emotions
- apple of my eye
- I could eat a horse
- eyes were saucers
- a heart of stone
- fit as a fiddle
- dull as dishwater
Metaphors are used in therapy as a way of breaking old thinking with a new look on things. Metaphors tend to evoke images, rather than words, so they can be really helpful in helping you become ‘unstuck’ and breaking unhelpful thought patterns.
For example, it’s difficult to describe how it feels to experience anxiety. How do you explain the intricacies of anxiety, the emotions within, how to do you really explain how you are feeling? It’s even harder trying to explain this to someone who has never experienced anxiety. We may try to explain it by describing our physical symptoms, such as breathlessness, nausea or racing heart, but that might not be enough to explain it fully.
Being able to adequately explain how you feel in therapy is an important step, but if we can’t explain how we feel then we feel stuck at the first obstacle.
In this example of explaining anxiety, we might use metaphors to explain the different elements of anxiety:
- it’s like being trapped in a small lift stuck between floors
- it’s that feeling when you are at the top of a rollercoaster and you know you are about to plummet
- it’s like I am slowly freezing until I’m solidified
- it’s like being stuck in a maze and not finding the way out
- it comes out of nowhere like an unexpected storm
- it’s like walking down a dark alley with no way of knowing what is in there
These metaphors all conjure images, which helps back up what we are trying to convey. We naturally use metaphors in every day life, so learning new ones to use in therapy isn’t as complicated as it might sound.