You will read below a number of metaphors designed to empower and enlighten. These are the type of metaphors that our NLP Practitioners learn to use in the section “Using metaphors in NLP” on our NLP Practitioner course.
Let me tell you a story of a young village boy who lived in the Arabian desert. His name was Ahmed and he was the last-born in a family of eight children. His parents were very poor and worked for a rich landowner tending his herd of goats.
One day Ahmed was out playing in the desert a little way away from the village when he spotted a man lying on the ground. He ran to the man and saw that he had injured his leg. The man had been thrown off his horse after it was spooked by a desert snake. Ahmed gave the dehydrated man some water and ran off to get help. A group of men from the village took the man to a hospital in a nearby city but the man knew that Ahmed was the one who had saved his life.
One week later then man returned to the village. He told Ahmed that he was a sheik and as a reward for saving his life the sheik gave Ahmed a gift. The gift was a beautiful pony, born and bred from the best Arabian horse the sheik had.
The pony became Ahmed’s best friend and priced possession. He spent all his free time with the pony and gave it the best care possible. Every day he would be out teaching his pony new tricks or riding in the desert or grooming him with love and great attention to detail. Ahmed did odd jobs around the village to earn money for special supplements and high quality feed for his pony and anytime the vet came to the village to see someone’s animal Ahmed would tag along and help the vet in whatever he needed. As a thank you the vet would examine Ahmed’s pony and give him any required medical care for free.
Years passed and the pony and the boy grew. Ahmed was now a young man almost ready to embark on his own journey in life leaving his family and the village behind. And his pony had developed into a magnificent horse, full of power and vitality. It was magnificent. Just magnificent.
One day Ahmed heard news of a big horse race in the city. The main price was 1 million dirhams. When he heard this he just knew that this was his chance. He had loved and meticulously cared for his horse for years and now was their time. It was their time to race.
Ahmed and his horse showed up on the race course on the day of the race. They didn’t have a famous family name or the latest gear but the physical condition of his horse spoke for itself and no one questioned their presence on the track. They enrolled into the race and waited for their turn.
Ahmed was confident and ready. He knew his horse would be reliable and strong for the task. He knew he could depend on his horse. Their turn came and his horse took off like it had raced all his life. Ahmed and his horse were moving as one and sped off to win the race effortlessly. They won the main price and Ahmed’s life changed forever. The years of tending to his horse lovingly and meticulously paid off big time and his life was forever better for it.
The fox had lived with the family a long time. It had been brought into the house as a cub with a broken leg. The leg had healed and the cub had long since turned into a fox yet, in the house it remained. The owner had got so used to having the fox around that he wanted to keep him as a pet.
The fox looked out through the living room window and saw the other foxes playing and felt an ache in his heart as he remembered distant memories when he played in the long grass and felt the cool summer breeze play gently with his soft brown fur. He wondered how it would feel to once again hear the sounds of summer of grasshoppers and birds calling to one another. Then, he looked pleadingly towards his owners, eyeing them hopefully one by one until his head hung in its usual position, chin touching his chest, and went to his basket for a lie down.
That evening he saw a face that seemed familiar to him and on the other side of the living room window. It belonged to a female fox, eyes wide with curiousity and beckoning him towards her, looking first at him then out towards the back of the garden. When he moved closer he banged his head which made her laugh. He pressed his nose against the glass as she ran off, looking back towards him shyly. How he longed to go with her.
The years passed and the fox still spent much of his time looking out of the window. Then, one day the owner went out of the house and left the garden door wide open. The fox’s heart missed a beat as he went towards the open door. He peered outside and stood there for quite some time frozen to the spot. Then, the owner came back, gently stroked the fox’s neck and closed the door.
…once I had a client who was struggling to get married, and as she heard that I just came from the Peruvian jungle and brought with me some new remedies from shamans, she came to ask if I had something that could uplift her from what she called ‘her little empty swamp’ and into that fantastic world of relationships, happiness and love. She dreamt of a ‘normal’ family, a couple of kids and a cosy little house in the middle of somewhere…: “just like everybody else.”
Well…I said, would you like to keep pacing the room or sit and relax in my new cosy recliner? She sat. Shall we talk first, and then decide together, if and which remedy we need.
So, I asked her, “why do you want all those things in your life?”
She thought for a second: “they will make me happy.”
“Did any relationship with a man make you happy?”
“Well…at the beginning they all did.”
“And then what happened? “
“Then…then…I would fall out of love with my partners…”
“All of them???”
“Yes, all of them,” she sighed.
“So, why do you think, that was the case?”
“They all were wrong people for me, I suppose…”
“All of them???”
“All of them, I am pretty sure!”
“But you did love them to begin with, didn’t you?”
“I thought I did… Didn’t I?!! Let me think now…I did.”
“But what happened then?”
“They couldn’t make me happy. They didn’t appreciate me, my work, my care…. everything I did was taken for granted. So, I would wait for that appreciation, to begin with; then I would ask for it, and then demand it! And then…well…then something would break in me… and I would leave again and again…and again,” she sighed.
I could see that even though she was getting more and more upset, as she was talking about her situation, she was actually starting to think, maybe for the first time, about her situation in an absolutely different way, as our conversation went on…
I asked her: “so, do you think that it is other people’s responsibility to make you happy?”
There was a pose… Then she looked at me, her eyes sharp: “NO.” Another pause… I should be able to be happy myself, shouldn’t I? But I have never thought about it that way.
“Ok, then think now. Can you think of a time in your life where you were happy on your own?”
“YES! I CAN!” she exclaimed finally! She was excited. She has never thought herself happy outside a relationship with someone before.
“I do remember a time when I was absolutely happy, and not in any relationship. It was back when I was much younger; I was just at the beginning of my career. I had nothing back then, well almost nothing: a new diploma and a placement to work in an orphans children’s home back in the ex-Soviet Union. But I thought I had the world! I felt happy and excited, as my life was just beginning. I had so many plans. I thought I had it all to achieve anything I wanted to: I had my diploma, I had a room in a communal flat, and I was just about to start working with kids, just like I always wanted to.
I WAS happy back then! I really was! I had so much love to share, and I shared it with those who needed it most – with kids, who had no parents. And even when a child seemed difficult and rude or simply withdrawn, I used my trick – I would love him or her even more. And, boy, it always worked! They loved me back! Back then I was constantly in love, as I was sharing mine!!!”
Then she suddenly stopped….
Oh, my, she said, I’ve got it!!! I loved THEM without demanding them to love ME! I loved them, no matter what. I was happy because I could love without any preconception, expectations…no conditions applied! I loved them because I wanted to, because that made me happy, because that way I felt loved. I loved. I loved them. I loved the world around me. I loved myself. I loved!!!
She left me that day, forgetting all about my magic remedy she came for, and later that year I received a little postcard saying: I LOVE. She actually created it herself!
She did meet her ‘prince’, after all, but she said that she had to change the way she looked at life, love and herself. She learned that giving is receiving, so she learned to give love first. She learned that love starts with oneself. So she learned to appreciate herself first. And, for the first time in her life, she simply took a break from searching for someone and being with someone so that to be on her own with herself, to spoil herself, to get to know herself better, and get to know what it is she actually wanted from life. The rest is history, as one would say.
My brothers friend lives in the country and decided to buy a very flash sports car.He literally drooled over car magazines and spent hour upon hour wandering around car dealership garages. He eventually found the car of his dreams and spent a small fortune. Everyone ooooed and ahhhhhed and he loved the attention it received.He spent hours cleaning and admiring it….until it was winter. Then the car was about as much use as a chocolate teapot.It got stuck in the mud,the snow and he could often not drive it through the narrow country lanes. It was utterly impractical and unreliable and he never knew whether he would make it in to work. All of the things he loved about the car, became all of the things he hated about it. After just one winter he had had enough and decided to sell it and buy something far more practical and reliable. Still a lovely car, but one which matched his lifestlye and needs…
I watched a French film last night called “de l’encre” “some ink”. The main character Najma is in her late teen age, and lives in the suburb of Paris. Her mother looks after elderly people and her dad is in jail for falsifying money. It takes place in the nineties when CDs were still used!
She is a really talented writer and rap singer but has not sold many albums, not enough to pay for the rent of the flat. She gets the opportunity to write for this young and famous singer and takes the opportunity as she is strapped for cash. The recording company promise her to promote and sell her album. But when it comes to delivering this promise they back up and say that they were not interested. She felt betrayed and stuck. Not much she could do was there?
You could see her really being low …keeping herself to herself…
Then she was speaking to a friend. The friend was involved in music, he was listening and said “That is a great idea! And you can do it!”
One of the last scene of the films was 2 albums being promoted on TV “A l’ombre” “de l’encre” “In the shadow” “of the ink” with similar covers and complementary song titles which helped the public understand that Najma wrote both albums.
She used her creativity to find a solution; she thought out of the box and did not give up.
She shared her worries and used her skills to get to her goal.
A very clever man obtained a doctorate in archaeology and wanted to work in a museum in Paris. But every time he applied for a job, the only ones available there were cleaning, collecting the rubbish or washing up in the cafeteria. He felt all these jobs were beneath him. His father, who was a farmer in Egypt, told him to go back to work on his land and plant crops to feed the rest of the family. The man objected but he couldn’t find any other way to survive. So he reluctantly accepted the offer. While he was digging he kept telling himself that he was clever and should use his mind instead of using his hands and standing in the mud. One day he was digging when the earth felt hard beneath his spade and he found it difficult to dig. His father kept encouraging him to carry on with the work and told him that the land was just stony. He kept digging and exploring until he discovered a large stone door in the ground. He managed to prise open the door and beneath it he found an ancient Egyptian temple full of jewels and riches. He used his skills as an archaeologist and announced his discovery. He was put in charge of the excavation project and he became world famous.
A lack of time?
As part of my nutrition course we address exercise and an issue that people frequently flag up is lack of time due to other commitments.
I was recently reading the Guy Martin autobiography. If you haven’t read it I would highly recommend it. I was drawn to it as I like motorbikes and Guy is (amongst other things) a champion road racer. But the way it’s written anyone would enjoy the book.
Guy talks about fitness training as bike racers have to be in great physical conditions to be able to manhandle the bike around courses, especially courses like the Isle of Man TT. Guy is a very straightforward sort of chap. He calls a spade a spade. Despite racing for years he had never set foot in a gym and while staying in a hotel one time decided to give it a try. He lasted 5 minutes and never went back. He said it was full of blokes waving their arms about, grunting and staring at themselves in the mirror. He just couldn’t see how it was any way to spend his time. Guy couldn’t see the reason to exercise without purpose.
Now, despite being an elite motorbike racer Guy doesn’t own a motorbike or ride on the roads. He cycles 15-20 miles to work every day, and the same again coming home. Also, despite being a highly successful racer (and now TV presenter and author) he still works day in day out as a truck fitter. As you can imagine the tools for this are big and heavy and its strenuous manual labour.
Guy was being interviewed once and was asked about his fitness training routine. He replied that he never trained a day in his life. His manager was sitting next to him and chipped in, ‘You could say that, or you could say that you work out and train constantly every day of your life’.
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