If you have followed any coach or therapeutic practitioner’s Instagram or Facebook page you will have come across a plethora of pictures of far off places, piers, woodlands and horizons. Inspirational images are often accompanied with references to “journey” and “reaching the peak”. I myself utilise these phrases and pictures when posting.
So are we just churning out clichés for the sake of it or is there a reason why we keep these references flowing?
Our language is littered with imagery. In an everyday conversation you won’t necessarily hear this or pick it out. But listen more intently and notice the pictures people make with the words they use, this is our emotional landscape. In between the punctuation and umms and pauses, we are literary artists painting our experiences for others to visualise, connect with and draw a sense of understanding.
These pictures we create with our language can better enable a coach to understand your emotional experience of the situation, delving into this creative narrative further gives us a chance to explore alongside you, to visualise this experience and explore other perspectives to see your emotional landscape from.
In the day to day we fill our sentences with imagery and metaphors. Our words form pictures, they create feelings for others to connect with. This imagery has a common ground, we draw some mutual understanding as we paint our words in the air for others to hear, and yet truly these images remain something unique intangibly replicated.
Some commonly used imagery you might easily pick out in conversation.
· Making a mountain out of a mole hill.
· It’s a personal barrier
· Bite my nose to spite my face
· One steps forward two steps back
· I’ve hit my peak
· She’s hit rock bottom
· Run of the mill
· Groundhog day
· Same shit, different day
Whilst mutual our 'words-capes' (the literary landscape we create) are unique to us on so many levels. Tapping into someone else’s visual language will gain you a chance to engage and respond. A chance to appreciate someone’s vision or view. We can glean commonality in these visual depictions of conversation yet we can never truly know if each others experience is the truly the same? Yet listening gives us a sense of place, of empathy.
An example of this unique perspective we create for ourselves would be to ask 10 or so people to draw a cow…. There may be some common features, most people will have some parameters to what a cow “could” be like, and yet no 2 cows are likely to be an exact replica of each other. This is true of our experiences and language too.
Consider this when you are listening to others…. I take the images I hear in others and I become more inquisitive. I want to really connect to this vision, your vision and what it’s like for you.
Coming back to where I started, and the point of those motivational images we post of our social media…. They transcend in this way too…. We understand for the most part that images like this have association, even without words they evoke a feeling, a representation, a connection to something.
In practicality, there is a key theme here… That being nature…. These images of outdoor open spaces are set to inspire you, they represent open opportunities, they demonstrate how the natural world has an abundance of growth, and they represent adventure. Nature can offer you a space to be creative, to be calm, to learn….. If nature is for you, you will know this already. You will have that connection as if it were innate.
A picture is worth a thousand words and yet just a few simple words create an image that transcends understanding many.