Analogies compare things so that you can see a relationship between them. There are many ways to do it, but the key thing is that you compare in a way that gets you thinking about what things both things may have in common.
Similes do this by saying something is “like” or “as” something else.
“As cool as a cucumber”
Metaphors do this by saying something “is” something else.
“All the world’s a stage” Shaky
“…but the play is badly cast.” Oscar Wilde
So, analogies are comparisons, and metaphors and similes are two ways to make them.
Aristotle stated “The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor;This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius;for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblance.”
Sigmund Freud said ““Analogies, it is true, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home.”
Then there is the aphorism, a pithy observation which contains a general truth.
Let’s look at a selection, before looking at how metaphors may mean more than meets the eye.
“The girls are like a shadow. If you follow them, they flee. If you flee, they follow you.” is the slightly cheesy advice given by Giorgio Moroder dressed as a chauffeur to a hapless young man at the beginning of the sublime music video Déjà Vu:-
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”
“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor,
every atom of me in magnificent glow,
than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
“Humour is just another defence against the universe.”
“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”
“Coincidences are spiritual puns”
“Life is like a game of cards.
The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.”
“Life is a tragedy when seen in close up, but a comedy in long shot.”
“There are two things a real man likes—danger and play;and he likes woman because she is the most dangerous of playthings.”
“Love is friendship set on fire.”
“Sex is like money; only too much is enough.”
“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”
Telling a story, parable, anaology or metaphor related to a person’s situation can be a painless and effective way to connect and perhaps transform.
Everyone likes to listen to a story, like parables in olden times- what does this one teach you?
The Wise Woman and the Hats
Once upon a time a wise woman went to give a lecture in a faraway town. As she began to speak, she looked around the whole of the twenty or so people in her audience and she noticed something rather strange. They were all wearing hats. And very remarkable hats they were too.
The village gardener wore a hat that was absolutely covered in weeds. A young mother wore a sort of bonnet made out of babies’ nappies. One man had a beret with tax forms pinned all over it. Another had a bowler hat with three telephones on it. Someone else had a fur hat which had almost disappeared under hundreds of unpaid bills. The farmer in the back room had a calf on her head. And the lady in the front row had a sort of Paddington Bear hat covered with chocolates. And there were many more remarkable hats.
The wise woman paused in what she was saying. “I’ve been noticing what splendid hats you’re all wearing,” she said, “But I do think that you’ll be able to hear what I’m saying a lot better if you take them off. Why don’t you put your hats at the back of the hall for the time being? You can pick them up again after the lecture.”
The people in the audience got up and went to the back of the hall. They took off the hats and put them down. The farmer laid her calf gently in the hat covered in weeds. Then they went back to their seats.
“Thank you.” said the wise woman. And she went on with the lecture. And she was right. The people in the audience could hear much better without their hats.
Do you wear “hats” that stop you really hearing what other people are telling you?
Milton Erickson was a master of therapeutic, often hypnotic stories, he merits his own blog post, coming soon…
Let’s just say he was the kind of guy who would come out with things like:-
“And I want you to choose some time in the past when you were a very, very little girl. And my voice will go with you. And my voice will change into that of your parents, your neighbors, your friends, your schoolmates, your playmates, your teachers. And I want you to find yourself sitting in the school room, a little girl feeling happy about something, something that happened a long time ago, that you forgot a long time ago…”
To be continued!
Clean language is a system whereby you can find out the metaphors other people are living by. There are two questions, called the lazy Jedi questions you can ask to find out the story behind their way of thinking on a specific issue.
Say they describe their problem as being X.
The questions are then:-
“What kind of X is that X?” and
“Is there anything else about X?”.
You should then be able to tune in to their personal metaphors, which are anything they say that cannot be fully taken literally.
e.g. if X is lack of self-control, they may describe their kind of lack of self-control as being “I’m like a kid in a sweet shop”. So okay, that would be a simile. Smartie. Geddit?
If you then work with someone within their own revealed metaphor landscape, you will be speaking the same language.
Know what I mean?