Sunday, 3 April 2011
The Metaphorical Cake in the Oven
Metaphors can be hugely powerful when working with clients. Metaphors paint a visual image of how a client is feeling or experiencing themselves. And metaphors are unique to the individual who creates them.
I love working with the metaphors that clients describe. They can be very graphic and can help clients to explore their situations and feelings in a much more powerful way than simply with words. It’s good to assist clients in fully exploring their metaphors, helping them to describe them using all 5 senses … what do they see, taste, touch, smell and feel in relation to their metaphor. Whereabouts in space, or in their bodies do they ‘see’ their metaphor. Does their image change as you explore different aspects of it.
I’ve worked with some clients who find it difficult to put their thoughts and feelings into words; indeed words sometimes distract from someone’s true experience. I’ve had sessions in which I’ve had no idea what the client was metaphorically talking about, as all we’ve explored and played with was their metaphor.
I think we all think in metaphorical language, but aren’t always aware of it. And for me, it’s important to take the time to stop and explore our metaphors ... they hold such vital information for us.
This is particularly relevant for me today … I was sitting earlier and a thought came to me that I felt like I was a cake baking in the oven. I’ve been doing a lot of work this weekend around my PhD and preparation for conferences I’m presenting at in the near future around eating disorders, so the food related metaphor didn’t particularly surprise me. But when the image came to mind, I stopped and just allowed myself to fully experience it. I questioned what it meant, and was it a positive metaphor for me? And the conclusion I came to was that yes, it was … I’m especially busy right now, doing lots of things, bringing a lot of new ideas to fruition; and I realised that for a cake to be in the oven that meant that all of the ingredients were in there. They’d all been mixed together & had been put in the tin to bake. That was hugely reassuring for me, as it made me realise that I have all of the resources and skills I need; they’re all there inside of me, mixed together like the cake mix. And right now, just like that cake in the oven, I’m simply processing everything, allowing everything to germinate and cook. And soon, when the oven timer rings, the cake will be cooked and I’ll be a changed person. Like the cake, the ingredients will all be there, but cooking and processing changes the raw cake mix into an edible, much more useful and effective final product.
This metaphor also fits in with an experience I had a few weeks back when I had a real yearning to bake a New York style cheesecake. I gave in to that yearning, baked the cheesecake and felt the satisfaction of having created something so tasty from a selection of raw ingredients. Seems like my unconscious has been working on this cake / baking metaphor for a while!
It also brings to mind for me the metaphor commonly associated with pregnancy … the ‘bun in the oven.’ Maybe for me too, my current growth and change process is a bit like a pregnancy, growing the ideas inside of me until they’re ready to be born and introduced to the world.
We all have the raw ingredients inside of us to succeed … it’s learning how to mix them together most effectively and allowing them to cook, to be processed, which leads to effective and ongoing personal growth and change...