Saturday, March 12, 2022

Where Do You Want Your Attention to Go?

In the introduction to David Gordon's book, Therapeutic Metaphors: Helping Others Through the Looking Glass, he writes:

There is no essential structural difference between the Odyssey, Alice in Wonderland, and Carlos Castaneda's experiences with Don Juan. All describe individuals, real or imagined, who are confronted with problems, which demand [tapping] their personal resources in order to overcome these problems . . . If the conflict within the story is similar to one you as a listener happen also to be dealing with, then the story immediately becomes significant to you . . . a METAPHOR. 

In my coaching career, when clients seemed stuck over how to initiate action or unable to respond to direct suggestions, I often told stories that included change-oriented metaphors. But their own stories were much more powerful, as illustrated by this example from "Katja":

The day after I got my motorcycle license, I took a spin on a friend’s motorcycle and got into a single-vehicle accident. I was nervous because it was a different, much larger bike than the one I learned on, and left turns were causing me trouble. 

Among the major points the instructors had made over my two-day training was to look where you want the motorcycle to go. In my anxiety about the size of the motorcycle, I completely forgot that, and kept looking at the curb I didn’t want to run into. And guess what? The motorcycle went right where I was looking! 

Was I nervous the following spring when I got on a bike for my first ride since the accident? You bet. However, my mantra wasn’t, Please don’t crash (focus on the fear). It was, of course, Look where you want the bike to go. And guess what? It still goes where I look.