Tag Archives: metaphors

therese borchard: the pocket therapist

earlier this year, you heard me rave about therese borchard’s book beyond blue a few times. she has a new book out, the pocket therapist. i just received it and haven’t opened it yet. because i have so much trust in therese, i’ll do this: i’ll look at three random pages, tell you what i see there, and give you a few thoughts. ready?

page 50: imitate an eagle

that’s a great start. this being a pocket therapist (what is this? the sub title is: an emotional survival kit. maybe it’s a-tip-a-page?) maybe it’ll suggest to glide, let the winds take you, without resistance. maybe it’ll talk about being super protective of your little ones (little what? creative urges, perhaps?) ok, let’s see.

an eagle knows that a storm is approaching ling before the storm comes. he will hoist himself way up high and wait for the winds to come. then, when the storm arrives, he steers his wings so that the wind will raise him up and lift him above the storm. while the squall thunders below, the eagle is gliding above it. he hasn’t dodged the storm. he has simply used the fierce winds to lift him higher.

interesting! totally reminds me of norm amundson’s book on metaphors that i discussed a few days earlier.

how might this help someone with, say, bipolar disorder? we could say the storm resembles a manic episode. honing one’s sensitivities so that the “storm” can be anticipated is a very important skill to learn. how might one glide above it? that’s an interesting question. perhaps possible only for people with advanced meditation practice.

perhaps this is not what therese was referring to. how do you think this metaphor could help?

page 161: pin the anxiety on the unrealistic expectation

makes me think of pin the tail on the donkey. that involves tapping around in the dark (makes me think of the times we look around in the jungle of medication and techniques, hoping to stumble on one that might eventually work, at least for a while). it also involves trust – that there is someone who will make sure you don’t fall down the stairs or fall into the flower pots while you blindly stumble around. here’s therese:

i jot down irrational goals like “penning a new york times bestseller in my half hour of free time in the evening” … [or] “training for a triathlon with a busted hip.”

then my therapist and i arrive at some realistic options, like “writing an adequate blog” [or] “swimming … a few times a week but saving the triathlon for after retirement.” these goals don’t sound as sexy on paper as the overachievers’ but they are friends with sanity, and that’s all i care about.

aah! i get it. she separates the realistic from the unrealistic, and as she does that, the anxiety stays behind with what’s unrealistic.  can you see yourself using this techniqe?

page 71: bawl your eyes out

not much interpretation needed here, is there?

in a recent new york times piece, writer benedict carey refers to tears as “emotional perspiration.” …

for one, they remove toxins from our body. emotional tears (those formed in distress or grief) contain more toxic by-products than tears of irritation, like when you peel an onion, indicating that weeping is surely nature’s way of cleansing the heart and mind.

second, tears elevate mood. crying lowers a person’s manganese level, and the lwoer the better because overexposure to manganese can cause anxiety, nervousness, irritation … and the rest of what happens in your brain when you or your spouse are in a foul mood.

finally, crying is cathartic.

you’ve felt the same release that i have after a good sob, right?

it’s as if your body has been accumulating hurts and resentments and fears … until your limbic system runs out of room and then, like a volcano, the toxic gunk spews forth everywhere.

what’s crying like for you?  does it offer you release?

once again, therese borchard didn’t disappoint me. in fact, i already have someone in mind to whom i will give a copy of the book.

let the wizard of oz help you!

i just finished reading norm amundson’s new book metaphor making. it is written to assist counsellors in making better use of metaphors and includes theoretical foundations and intervention exercises. the most interesting part (for me) were the forty metaphoric images that offer an in-depth practical and personal opportunity to experience working with metaphors. i’d like to give you a taste of it. this one is about the yellow brick road. since i’m thinking of using it with my immigrant clients who may not be familiar with the wizard of oz, and since some of you may have forgotten the story, here’s a short intro, adapted from amundson’s version:

once upon a time there was a young girl, dorothy, and her dog, toto.

one day they were swept away by a cyclone and carried away to the land of oz. dorothy was determined to get back home and found out she should get help from the wizard who lived in the emerald city.

on her journey there, she was joined by three companions: a lion who needed courage, a scarecrow who needed a brain, and a tin man who needed a heart. the foursome met traveled on a road paved with yellow bricks and they met many adventures, and good and bad witches.

in the end they found the wizard and it turned out he was no real wizard after all! still, they managed to reach their goals through the magical encounters they had had along the way.

amundson’s thoughts on this story:

sometimes we are unexpectedly blown away by strong winds that knock us off the ground and take us to new places. when that happens, we get confused and we have to create new plans.

in the story dorothy has silver slippers that have the power to take her home but she does not know that. instead she goes on a journey to get help from an expert who, it seems, has all the answers.

dorothy’s companions all have lost confidence in their natural abilities. together they represent passion, intellect and the courage to act – all essential elements of a happy life. they, too, are seeking to find help from the wizard.

when we are in transition (“on the road”) we often feel uncertain. there can be confusion and doubt that we are smart (the scarecrow’s missing brain) or emotionally strong enough (the tin man’s missing heart). we can feel fear, and that can take away from our courage to take risks (just like the lion).

still, it all gets resolved because of persistence, problem solving and help that comes in the midst of all the difficulties – often from unexpected sources.

the wizard in this story has maintained power through lies and illusion. maybe that’s similar to some job seekers who feel that there are negative forces that exert control over them (e.g. a bad economy). in the end, the wizard is unmasked. however, no-one kills or punishes him – he only is allowed to show his true, human face now – and it turns out that without his mask, he also can be helpful.

the morale?

the answers for many of life’s problems lie within us rather than in the hands of an all-knowing expert. there are also many ways in which people can support each other to reach their goals.

things to think about:

can you see any similarities between your situation and the story of the wizard of oz?

can you see some areas of your life where you may have more strengths than you are using right now?

if you were in this story, what would you be looking for: courage, passion, intelligence, a home – or something completely different?

can you think of another story that might have similarities with your situation right now?