"Key metaphors help determine what and how we perceive, and how we think about our perceptions". M. H. Abrams
Perceptions are created from life experiences, and they can be your greatest source of encouragement, or create your biggest mental block. Working as a therapist and life coach I spend a lot of time delving into the perceptions of those people I work with by using interpretive images such as metaphors. Why? Metaphors tell a story or provide a visual cue to help us see alternative ways of looking at personal challenges.
Creative and powerful, metaphors have a uniquely meaningful influence, bringing together clarity and attention to your specific situation. Some refer to this experience as an "aha moment". One of the most transforming, is the key metaphor that stems from the optical viewer known as a kaleidoscope. Described as a "key" metaphor because it offers up ever-changing images and constantly shifting perspectives that everyone can relate to. Speaker Rosabeth Moss Kanter illustrates the kaleidoscope metaphor as a window to the world, in that you look at a set of elements, and with intention reassemble those floating bits and pieces into how you perceive yourself, and your world. All of which make up your life. The smallest shift having the potential to create a new awareness, as was the case in the story of my friend's daughter Kate.
My Friends Daughter: Story of the Seen and Unseen
As the door opened, my friend was struck by the tears streaming down her daughter's face.
Stumbling to speak through her tears, my friend's daughter said "It's not fair, it's not my fault, it's just not fair"! Curious my friend stopped what she was doing to listen. She wanted to know more about what had made her daughter so upset.
"What's not fair Kate?" my friend asked.
Justifying her tears, my friend's daughter said "Because I'm the tallest in my class I always get put last in line. Just once I would like to be first, it's not my fault. I didn't ask to be tall, it's just not fair".
Calmly my friend replied. "Kate do you remember the lesson of the Kaleidoscope?"
"That sometimes you need to go exploring to find a solution" replied Kate.
Okay then, said my friend," let's go exploring. Why don't we begin by lining up just you as you would do in school ". Kate looked at her mother and did as she requested. Now standing behind her, my friend using her best militant voice yelled out "about-face" and Kate found herself first in line, right where she wanted to be.
Excited Kate said "Oh mommy, if all I want is to be first in line, I just need to turn around"!
By prompting Kate to think about the lesson of the Kaleidoscope along with intentional instruction from my friend, Kate was able to see her situation in a new and different way. Whether or not you agree with the concept that problems are created when you stop seeking solutions is not important. What is helpful is the realization that challenges cannot be transformed into opportunities when an obstacle you are facing consumes all your attention.
Take-away: Even though what you see may not be up to you or me, the way it is viewed is up to you.
Making Your Kaleidoscope
While I don't believe you need any practical excuse for owning a kaleidoscope other than for the sheer enjoyment, so don't forget to find the fun in exploring creative solutions!
Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life!