Creativity Pathway #135: Meaning & Metaphor

In Greek, the term metaphor means “to carry” or “to transfer.” In the coaching conversation, metaphors are used to transfer a client’s understanding of a situation, circumstance or thought from the unknown to the known. Metaphors generate new meaning, express the inexpressible and enable one to understand the unfamiliar with familiar words and images

Linguists George Lakoff and Mark Turner believe that the “metaphor is a tool so ordinary that we use it unconsciously and automatically, with so little effort that we hardly notice it. It is omnipresent: metaphor suffuses our thoughts, no matter what we are thinking about. It is accessible to everyone: as children we automatically, as a matter of course, acquire a mastery of metaphor…And it is irreplaceable: metaphor allows us to understand ourselves and our world in ways that no other modes of thought can.” 

The use of the metaphor is a dynamic tool, for example, when crafting a Personal Mission Statement. As a way to express one’s vision for the meaning of their life, the use of the metaphor provides imagery with which one can more easily connect. The beginning of my Mission Statement, for example, is “I am the warm, gentle breeze…” The power of the metaphor in this process is that I can literally feel a bodily reaction as I visualize the gentle breeze and its impact on those who experience it, therefore drawing me more eagerly toward my mission.

Each of my coaching clients also participate in a guided meditation; a visualization in which they imagine meeting their “future self.” During this experience, they come to know a special name by which their “future self” is known. This name is a metaphor or symbol of their essence in their future state. The use of the metaphor is a creative and freeing way to open the clients awareness to their own possibilities. Clients will discover name metaphors such as “Calm,” “Peace,” “Pops” and “Heart” that provide them with another image with which to explain who they wish to be. 

When we see something in a new way, such as through a metaphor, we know it in a new way as well. We have fresh words and images that provide deepened and changed perspective. Would you like to rediscover the fire in your belly? Want to turn the short stories of your life into an epic novel? Contact Erika for a complimentary coaching session and explore what is possible for you.

Coaching questions: What is the metaphor you could use to describe this season of your life? What images best represent who you are? Finish this statement: “I am the (_insert metaphor_) who is designed to (_insert your impact on the world_).”

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Creativity Coaching Programs and to arrange for a complementary Creativity coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Erika.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Erika Jackson (
LifeTrek Coaching International
Columbus, OH  •   U.S.A.

Telephone: 614-565-9953 • Fax: 208-977-7793
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