Using carbon-fibre ‘cheetahs’ metaphorically!

“I want to sort my head out” said a recent client.

In athletic terms she needed to maintain standard timings for specific runs, and she felt that although she was physically capable in fitness terms, that a self imposed barrier – a kind of defeatist voice within – was telling her “you’re losing ground, you’re off the pace, you’re not good enough”. The end product for her was a kind of “can’t do, won’t do” scenario.
PW: “Has this always been the case for you? Always like this?”
CL: “No. I used to be well up to pace and put in good times”
And then she explained how someone had got on her case, critical, unfairly judgemental and prejudiced, and this was when things had started to go off the rails.
PW: “So how would you describe this situation as it keeps occurring for you?”
CL: “It doesn’t happen when I’m playing other sports like rugby or lacrosse, all which involve running. These sports have a purpose. Only when just plain running, where the purpose is beating the clock.”
PW: “So you’re detached in other sports which have another purpose to them and fully engaged with this issue in ordinary plain running. So, what do you feel is happening?”
CL: “I’ll tell you what it feels like. I run up against a brick wall and I can’t get over it”
PW: “What can you tell me about this brick wall?”
This ‘barrier’ had a familiar ring to it and so I seized upon the metaphor she’d presented and decided to run with it.
CL: “It’s sort of pinky red bricks and pretty high.” I invited her to elaborate further on her pinky red brick wall.”It’s about 8 feet high, and 6 or 7 feet wide and about the the thickness of a brick in depth.”
PW: “And is there anything else about this 8 foot high, 6 or 7 foot wide pinky red brick wall that is one brick thick?”
CL: “It’s important to know what’s on the other side. But I can’t see over.”
PW: “What needs to happen for you to know what’s on the other side?” Quite a pause here.
CL: “Well I could go round but that would be cheating and would mark my time down. I can get over six foot walls like on assault courses, but not eight foot ones.”
PW: “What needs to happen for you to get to the other side without cheating?”
CL: “I’d need a set of foldable steps…but they’d be really awkward to carry while running,” and there was another pause and she chuckled, “a pickaxe would be very effective…no but that would be awkward to carry too.” And then I waited for almost half a minute, when there was a totally physical response of realisation. “I could use sprung legs, using those blade things – whatever they’re called.” I think she meant carbon-fibre ‘cheetahs’. “They would work brilliantly.”

I invited her to visualize how to clear the wall using her ‘cheetahs’, going through the process, reaching up having sprung off them, vaulting almost and using her hands to pivot over the wall and landing the other side, and continuing with her run to the finish.
PW: “Make a film of this, enhance it on your mental video-console, add a soundtrack, make it as compelling as it needs to be for you. And how does this now feel for you?”
Her physiology had changed, she seemed animated, excited. Plus her head seemed somewhat ‘sorted’.
CL: “Is that it? Is it really that simple?” she asked.
PW: “If you can see yourself doing it, then there’s a high probability that you will do it in reality. Your unconscious has found a great solution for you – utilise it!”