Revealing Metaphors!

Clean Language questions are great for eventually eliciting a person’s unconscious metaphors, those that are driving, or that are linked to, certain behaviours. Often people have no conscious idea what these metaphors might be, and find that once they are known, immediate and profound changes can often occur.

I was working with a partner at a recent course, and we each had to take both client and practitioner roles for a lengthy period of time, covering a particular issue we would like to have resolved.
I had been experiencing a degree of “writer’s block” in terms of progressing the work on my next book – and so I chose this as my ‘client issue for exploration and resolution’. At no point prior to the day had I even considered what was causing the block, or how I might get round it – I have plenty of other things to deal with on a daily basis, and I took the rather patient line that further inspiration would arrive when it was ready to arrive!

My interview (as client) duly progressed and my practitioner asked me about the background to the issue, about the first book and other recent working life history, in order to build up a picture, for her, of the real “me” as the client. It was a great question session, and it was when she began asking me about the structure and submodalities of how the first book had come to be written that things began to really unfold…
I’d written the book rather backwards way on – with the title (Don’t Think of a Black Cat) firmly in my mind before I’d started, followed by the subject matter of the preface (the map is not the territory), and finally with theme (the NLP plumber) and structure of the main body of the work. Once armed with the subject matter of the preface I then researched and wrote it, so that it was a stand-alone article in its own right. I then gathered information and made copious notes for the main body – and then wrote it. The conclusion and final tidy up came right at the end of the process.

My practitioner partner asked me what I felt, saw, was the most challenging part of the process for the next book. My reply was that it was the gathering and garnering of all the information. I was happy that I needed to write the preface in the way I had done the first time – ie choose the subject and then write an article around it. However, the ‘leg-work’ of processing loads of notes and other information was clearly something that was causing the block in my mind. With her guidance I was able to see that when writing the first book I had no notion of this part of the process before starting out, and therefore it was neither a help nor a hindrance to me.

The next step was the most revealing, however, and I was particularly delighted because I knew that she had no prior knowledge of Clean Language, and yet she had inadvertently used it! We were talking about this garnering of information leg-work in particular with regard to the first book and she phrased the question beautifully thus:-
“And garnering…that’s like what?”
With eyes closed I received a wonderfully clear, colourful and dynamic film of a trawler in a heaving sea and the fishermen landing a huge catch – bulging nets full of wriggling, dancing fish, being hoisted on board.

Here was my metaphor, revealed with stunning clarity.

I could hardly contain myself – and immediately saw the way I was going to be able to proceed with the next book. Get trawling – land the catch – process it, freeze it, and get back to port – tidy it up, package it – then sell it.

I told my partner what had just happened as she was a little bemused as to the nature of this not-so-much-a-lightbulb-more-a-spotlight moment. I explained to her about Clean Language, what it was and how it worked, and applauded her perceptive questioning skills. Hopefully she will be curious enough to pursue the topic more over the ensuing weeks and months as, even at a peripheral level, it has ways of breaking down or bypassing barriers that, on the surface, are tough nuts to crack.

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