My clients are sooo creative.
They are inventors, and authors, and incredible artists. They are experts at using metaphor and rich, visual imagery to tell the most detailed and believable stories.
What’s really impressive is they don’t even realize they are doing it.
One client recently told me that her student loan debt was a giant, dark cloud that followed her everywhere.
As much as I appreciate the visual—it helps me understand how her student loans feel to her so that I can better coach her through it—the visual isn’t doing her any favors.
As far as I can tell, the actual form of her student loans is as numbers on a piece of paper she gets in the mail each month. Student loan debt is not a real, physical thing in any other way I’ve ever seen. I could mail you a piece of paper with a figure on it each month and it would not be a dark cloud, a ray-of-sunshine, or a death sentence.
It would not have the power to stop-you-in-you-tracks or rain-on-your-parade.
It would be a piece of paper with a number on it and paper can’t do any of those things.
How often do you talk about drowning in work/sorrow/debt when there is no water in sight? Or biting-off-more-than-you-can-chew when you aren’t eating anything? Or pulling-the-trigger when there are no firearms within reach?
These dramatic visual images add to the emotional toll we’re feeling. They make our stories feel even more real (and don’t the stories we tell feel real enough already?)
Just like illustrations in a book make it easier for you to get into the story, images in our mind propel us deeper into our own painful stories.
So let’s stop using our creative super-powers against ourselves, okay?
What pictures are you creating, you imaginative, visionary artist, you? If you’re not sure, pay attention to your language. Your speech will clue you in.
If your pictures are of the light-of-my-life, apple-of-my-eye variety—meaning, they feel good and they serve you well—keep on painting, my friend.
But if they are of the black cloud, wild ride, death sentence variety, you might want to grab a new canvas and try again.