Metaphors can help you make sound decisions

Darla is an attorney who came to life coaching to help her reach her career goals and attain her personal fitness goal of running a half-marathon, all while maintaining balance with her family life.

She and her husband, Charley, have an 18-month-old and would like to have one more child.

“Last night Charley asked me about getting pregnant again,” Darla said. “Our plan was to have our children three years apart. With my age, I don’t want to wait too long, but I don’t feel I’m ready.”

“You sound pressured,” I said. “Would it help to create a metaphor to come up with some possible solutions?”

She nodded.

Although we had used metaphors before, I said, “Remember, metaphors help illustrate a point by painting a verbal picture of what’s happening. Start with the words, ‘I feel like,’ and then continue.”

Darla began, “I feel like ... I’m on a rollercoaster. The car moves into a dark tunnel and I hear a loud ticking sound. I’m suddenly going faster, and up ahead I see doors with signs above them: Baby, Promotion and Half-Marathon,” she said, gesturing with her hands. “But each door requires me to veer off of the main track.”

“Great! Let’s play with your metaphor.” I said. “Come up with three tools that you have with you.”

“A mute button to stop the ticking,” she said. “When I hear the ticking, I feel I have to make a choice immediately, and I don’t want to make a hasty decision.”

“Great. What other tools?” I asked.

“I’d also have a brake to slow down so I’d have time to think,” she added. “And I’d like a steering wheel to control the direction of the car. It all feels like it’s coming so fast.”

“A steering wheel would give you a feeling of being more in control,” I said. “How do these tools fit in with your goals?”

“My goals are important, but without these tools, the rollercoaster feels out of control,” she said.

“How can you use these metaphorical tools in your life?” I asked.

“By doing this exercise, I feel I’ve already put on the brake. I’ve realized that I don’t have to make these decisions immediately,” she said. “The mute button and the break give me time to think, and the steering wheel reminds me that I control my own decisions. The tools help me to slow down and get back some of my power.”

“What action steps will help you to do this?” I asked.

“Now that I’ve slowed down, I realize that I want to talk to Charley about my feelings and brainstorm how we can steer the rollercoaster together to reach our goals,” she said.

We talked further about what Darla wanted to say to Charley and how she might use her analogy to help communicate her feelings. She committed to having the conversation that evening to see how they could work together to make these important decisions.

Coaching challenge: When feeling pressured, create a metaphor to help you see the situation from a new perspective and create tools to determine your next action step.

Begin your metaphor with the words, “My situation is like ...” and use a description or image that helps describe how and what you are feeling.

Metaphors can help open new channels of creativity to move forward and take the next step to help solve the problem.

Sheri Fisher is a life coach who lives in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. For more information, go to:


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