A friend, (she’s a Licensed Mental Health Counselor) recently used a metaphor with a couple of family members who were not communicating with each other. She had them put all their anger and resentment toward each other in balloons and popped the balloons! The metaphor of the balloons holding the anger and then popping did the trick. Within the space of a few minutes these folks were crying, hugging and talking openly with each other.
Metaphor can be an incredible vehicle for healing and unconscious/conscious communication, in general. Our unconscious mind understands metaphor and our conscious mind is engaged by it.
Here are some metaphors that I picked up in the course of a few minutes watching the financial channels and surfing the web…
* Bull market and bear market (upward and downward trending markets, respectively).
* Bulls go up the stairs and bears go out the window (a metaphor explaining that stock prices rise slowly and drop quickly).
* Bulls get rich and bears get rich but pigs get slaughtered (a metaphor explaining that you can make money in up or down markets but greediness can result in losses in any situation).
* A “dead cat bounce” graphically describes a slight rise in a stock price after a tremendous drop.
* If you bought stocks and the stocks went up, they must be good -right? Well, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s a metaphor that tells you that in an upwardly trending market many stocks go up, whether or not they are good long term investments.
* “Catch a falling knife” describes the process of trying to buy a quickly falling stock right before or as it’s reaching it’s low price. As the metaphor implies, it can be a dangerous practice.
* Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, first used the term “bubble” in relation to the South Sea Crude Oil collapse of 1720. In 2000, we started to hear about the “tech-bubble” and the “dotcom bubble.” A bubble bursting is certainly an apt description of what happened to many tech stock prices in the following period.
Metaphor is a powerful way to communicate because it tickles both the conscious and unconscious minds. There are a ton of uses in therapy and persuasion. (See The Stock Market, Balloons, Southern Charm and Metaphor)