Light at the end of the tunnel

August 16, 2010 Post Comment Uncategorised

I was talking with a client the other day who was “sick and tired of failing.”
This was very broad-brush so I metaphorically held up for her one of the cue cards to break down generalisations – “always??”
She laughed, “No, not really. I’m really angry and depressed about a venture that failed about nine months ago.”
“Ah, so it was the venture that failed – not you?” I asked.
She smiled and nodded, adding, “but the way I’m feeling has started me comfort eating and drinking again, and it frustrates me big time ’cause I’ve no perseverance or self-discipline. Things were going so well before.”

So her train of wellness was happily chugging along until an external factor derailed it, which is the kind of scenario we all encounter from time to time. Except that for her, now, she’s so intently looking back in anger and self-judgement that she’s actually “walking backwards” into the future. Since by it’s very nature the future is somewhat unknown, walking backwards into it is likely to be full of pitfalls, trip-ups, tip-overs and a whole load of things to keep derailing that train.

“Picture this,” I said,”you’re running a bath and the phone goes. You go to answer and get engrossed in conversation. Suddenly – OMG – the bath is overflowing! What’s the first thing you do?”
“Pull the plug?” she asked.
“What’s the FIRST thing you do?” I repeated.
She thought, then lit up like there’d been a dawning. “Turn off the taps – THEN pull the plug.”

“So this anger,” I said, “is it with some thing or some one?” It transpired it was someone, who was pretty much responsible for the venture problem. However it also turned out that steps had already been taken to expunge the anger issues (rather like turning off the bathtaps.)
“Frustration, then…” I asked next. “Can you tell me about it it?”
It appeared to be a generalised frustration that ‘life was on track but now off track and although it’ll be ok in the end I don’t know when that’ll be, and things will probably get worse in the meantime because…’ etc etc.

PW: “So is there anything else about that frustration?”
CL: “Like being in a long, dark tunnel. I can see the light at the end but it’s so small so I don’t know how far away it is.”
PW: “So that light – what kind of light is that light?”
CL: “It’s a ray of sunshine.”
PW: “And is there anything else about that ray of sunshine?”
CL: “It’s bright and warm and all around. But just a long way off, and I don’t know how far.”
PW: “And considering tunnel, what kind of tunnel is that tunnel?”
CL: “It’s very dark and I can’t see what’s there or anything around at all.”
PW: “And is there anything else about that tunnel, very dark and can’t see?”
CL: “Well I suppose it’s like I’m stuck in it right here and now. And I want to be where the light is but can’t see where I’m stepping.”
PW: “What needs to happen for tunnel so you can see where you’re stepping?”
CL: “Need to put up a few lights.”

Now things were on the move!
She’d need to get in an electrician to rig up the lights, because she’d always ask an expert. Where from? Back at the other end of the tunnel, where she’d come in. So the tunnel has an entrance (behind her and quite near.) Is there an electrician there? Oh yes – but actually he’d need a lot of wires and a lot of lights. So what else would work? She’d get candles, lots of them, from the candle shop! And how would she light them? “I’ve got a lighter,” she said gleefully.

We both laughed at this stage and she was getting quite animated as she worked with this ‘tunnel’ metaphor of hers. I asked about what sort of light she’d get from lighted candles, and she said it was a warm glow, like you’d get at parties. So I asked her about parties, and how she felt at parties and gatherings, and just got her to elaborate on THAT kind of experience.

Pretty soon she was moving down the tunnel towards the ‘Ray of Sunshine’, using candles to light the way, having parties, gatherings, times of good mood, and just generally being able to see where she was going.

“And where is frustration now?” I asked
“That is so helpful – can’t say I notice any, as we speak.”
“And I’m not advocating that you have endless parties as you move along the tunnel, you understand. It’s just that you can make all the right choices about using the candles as you go.”

In conclusion, I did invite her to leave around at home, in her handbag, other relevant places, some visual and kinaesthetic anchors that linked to this whole elaborate tunnel-and-light metaphor.
Candles and a lighter seemed appropriate.

She went away happy as a sand-girl!