Metaphors reveal behavioural structures…

When a client admits “I have issues with X because there are times when I feel really out of control”…then I am sat with virtual machete in hand, knowing that I need to help them hack a new pathway through the jungle of X – because the old and well worn pathway leads to behaviours Y and Z which are very unresourceful.

For me the answer lay in investigating “really out of control”, so I put down the virtual machete and launched into the abyss, armed with only some Clean Language questions. I was out to examine the structure of “Out of Control” and how this might be opened up to give the client choices which would lead to solutions.

One of the joys of using Clean is that clients are given free rein to express themselves as much as they like. By providing them with this freedom, there is every chance that the Golden Nugget of a driving metaphor will come into view at some point.
My latest client’s metaphor appeared as, “Out of Control is like being on a boat, a fishing boat, with flimsy railings in a very rough sea. Being tossed around and at any time I could be washed overboard.”
PW – “What needs to happen to boat and railings in order for more Control?”
CL – “Boat has to be more sturdy and railings higher”
PW – “Is there anyone else on boat?”
CL – “No”
PW – “And with boat out of control, where is steering?”
CL – “In the wheelhouse”
PW – “And where is wheelhouse?”
CL – (pointing upwards) “Over there”
She is really living this by now, and goes into the wheelhouse. I ask her who does steering and she says ‘Captain’. She is not ‘Captain’ and as ‘Captain’ is not there I ask if she can steer. She says ‘yes’ and starts to steer. There’s a bit of a physiological shift at this point and when I ask what’s happening to boat now, she replies that it is steadier and (quite revealing) more sturdy!
PW – “And is there anything else about boat, railings and rough sea?”
CL – “Railings are safer and the sea is less rough”

The session continued for a short while and I explained to her that now her unconscious had revealed the metaphor of “Out of Control” that she might notice how this placed more resources at her fingertips. She agreed there is a need to get off the deck and into the wheelhouse and assume the role of “Captain”. This would ensure a return to “Control” and when in control she knew all the right ways to get the answers and outcomes that would be the most appropriate for her.