October 29th, 2011 12:05 PM by Lehel S.
With Our Words, We Create Our Lives
This week, I heard New York developer, Donald Trump, described as someone "who sees life as a war, and you're either a winner or you're a loser." Now, I don't know if Mr.
Trump believes anything like that, but imagine what life would be if you saw yourself at war with everyone around you. Wow!
That got me thinking about the metaphors we use every day.
Life is complex, with new challenges, celebrations and daily surprises. But when you add it all up, how do you describe your life? What metaphors do you use? And how do your images in turn, shape the world you live in?
For some of us, life is a journey. For others, life is to be endured, while many people see it as a "test." Others play the "game of life." Erma Bombeck said life "is a bowl of cherries," although she also wrote about "being in the pits." I have a friend who says "life is relationships,"
while other people see it as a chance "to build something"
or "leave a legacy."
The images we use to describe ourselves and our world are important! Our images shape the way we think, feel, and respond to everything in life. If I see myself as "unlucky,"
the things I attempt will be very different than if I describe myself as "talented" or "blessed."
The interesting thing about metaphors is that we all use them, and we can change them. Often, a piece of new information or a single conversation can change everything!
When I was a therapist, I often asked clients to imagine walking down the street and having one of their neighbors come out and scream obscenities at them. Most people said they'd be shocked, offended, or outraged. I would then add one more piece of information: I would explain that this neighbor suffered from Turret's syndrome, and had no control over their words and actions.
Most people immediately shifted in their chair and quickly said how sorry they would feel for the neighbor, and how they would never take it personally.
We use words to literally create the world in which we live, and successful people are very careful about the words and images that describe their world. Instead of "problems,"
they talk about "challenges" or "opportunities," or simply "surprises." People with strong, loving marriages use images like "my partner" or "my best friend," and would never talk about "the old ball and chain."
Metaphors that empower us lead to action. When we use words that suggest opportunity, possibility or potential, we feel good about ourselves and our lives. But when we use metaphors that suggest our very survival may be at stake, we tend to "keep our heads down" and be fearful.
Choose images, words and metaphors that you enjoy, that empower you, and that lead to creativity and action! For me, life is usually a "game," filled with people who will "play"
with me. I try lots of "experiments," which don't always work out the way I expected, but almost always teach me something or lead to other opportunities. Sometimes, life is a "game of golf, with lots of bad lies," but it can also be a "hole in one" or a "walk in the park."