I am a visual person. I always have been. I have lived my life in images ever since I was a little person. If I can see it clearly in my mind, like a movie playing out on a screen, I can take action. If I can’t get a good, clear visual of something, I get very uncomfortable. It feels like I’m wandering around in the dark just waiting to bump into something. Quite frankly, I don’t like it.
I always thought I was unique in this way. That going through life with a movie reel in my mind was not the way other people lived. Then I went back to school to get my coaching certification and I learned that this way of being is not unique to me, it is actually part of the human experience. In fact there is a name for it — it’s called Metaphorical Living.
METAPHORS ARE EVERYWHERE
Experiencing your life through metaphors can be really beneficial because they help you reveal bits of information about yourself that you can’t get any other way.
Metaphors allow you to express deeper meaning and convey the complexities of your external world using visual cues.
Metaphors are important because they serve as a connector for your internal and external worlds. Everything that is going on in your external world has meaning and lessons for your internal being. Metaphors connect you with your feelings and help you gain new perspectives. They can be the catalysts for helping you make big discoveries about your internal SELF—your BEING.
MASKS AS A METAPHOR
As COVID continues to disrupt our world and impact our lives, I can’t help but wonder what the deeper meaning of wearing masks is all about. What does it mean that we are all, at one point or another, needing to wearing a mask in our external environments? What is the deeper meaning and complexity for us internally?
Many people have strong reactions to mask-wearing, which means there is a deep connection here for all of us. So, I got curious. I thought about the mask as a metaphor as it applies to myself, and I asked two clients what they thought the mask’s metaphoric meaning was to them.
For me, my mask is all about protection. I was diagnosed with a severe case of burnout back in April and I am still feeling fragile and raw. Internally, I feel the need to be protected from the outside world and my mask helps me do that. When I’m ready to expose my insides to the external world, it will be time for me to take off my mask. My mask is a reminder that I need to be gentle and kind to myself right now. I am healing.
One of my clients shared that her mask makes it hard for her to breathe (The fact that the Black Lives Matter movement is all about “I can’t breathe,” has not been lost on me, considering the breathing impediment masks create.) She says that wearing a mask makes her be intentional about her breathing and, in turn, be more intentional about other areas of her life.
By needing to work for her breath, she has become keenly aware of the internal reactions that manifest when breathing becomes something you have to think about, notice and work for. For her it’s a reminder that breathing is not something to take for granted. It reminds her to approach each breath with gratitude.
For another client, her mask acts as a filter reminding her to use her voice in ways that allow her to speak her truth while maintaining her influence. For her, wearing a mask emphasizes her need to slow down, be sure she understands others and is understood herself. It has made her be very aware of how she is feeling internally, embracing her discomfort, giving her an opportunity to communicate and convey her message and emotions in a responsive way that is grounded and centered.