Friday, November 14, 2014

There Must Be a Pony

Metaphors and simple stories have extreme power to influence our thinking and our perception of not only things around us, but of ourselves. If you'd like to dip your toe into the wonderful world of metaphor, read one of the works of Dr. Milton Erickson, "My Voice Will Go with You", and you will soon see the uses of this form of subtle communication.

Erickson was, at one time in his life, afflicted with what sounds like polio and it left him unable to move from a wheelchair or to use his hands. Determined to help himself, he worked and struggled each day to move just one finger. Once he achieved that goal, he went on to increase the movement he had and, finally, he did manage to regain some movement, but he never left his wheelchair. It was at this time that he decided that the power of the mind could be brought under control in order to achieve change in one's life and he utilized unique metaphors which he constructed for his patients. After his death, the technique became a tool for a number of his students who continue to use it today in their own books on the subject.  BTW, the color purple is always associated with Erickson.

How often have we used tales of exotic places to teach our children lessons for life that may not seem like lessons at all? It's the same with we adults. We can learn valuable lessons in what seems like a flash and, sometimes, it can even be done with humor or incredible simplicity.

A good example of the simplicity form can be found in that often-told story of the prince and the pony. It's been reformulated in a number of different settings, but the message is the same. As I heard it, it goes like this:

A young prince was unhappy because nothing seemed to be happening that was lifting his spirits. Why he was feeling this way is never discussed, but a wise man in his court knew how to help him and to bring the laughter and positive attitude back to his way of thinking. So, he arranged to have the prince come into a room where one door remained closed and, as the prince faced the door, the wise man had him open it. Looking at what was on the other side of the door, the prince saw a huge mound of horse droppings. Initially, he was perplexed but then, the light came back to his eyes and he shouted, "There must be a pony!"

The moral of the story? Even when things don't appear to be very positive, you can turn it around and see the possibility of something wonderful, but initially hidden to you. It's another example of, "What the mind does not know, the eye does not see." So, look and seek the secrets that lie within.

It's a simple way of conveying a very important lesson about placing a positive perspective on almost anything. Metaphors are power and the underlying message may not be immediately apparent, so allow it to percolate a bit and it will rise to the top of your awareness if you permit it.

Where are the messages you've missed today? Take another look.