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If the problem is literal, the solution is metaphor

construct“Metaphor is a way of thought long before it is a way with words.” -James Geary

In Metaphors We Live By, George Lakeoff & Mark Johnson, make a case for the notion that metaphors are not merely a matter of language, but also a matter of thought.

That is, we do not merely speak in metaphor; we think in metaphor.

According to Lakeoff & Johnson:

“Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish–a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language. Moreover, metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of language alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action. For this reason, most people think they can get along perfectly well without metaphor. We have found,on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.” 

The authors go even further by arguing that our actual experiences are structured by our metaphorically grounded understandings.

One example of this is the argument as war metaphor.

When we talk about arguments, we tend to use the language of warfare (ie. he attacked my position, she defeated his argument, I stood my ground, he was very defensive, her premises were vulnerable, etc.).

These linguistic patterns are not the primary source of metaphor. Instead, they are secondary expressions of the underlying conceptual frames that govern our thinking.

We speak of arguments as war because we understand, or mentally represent, arguments in that particular way.

Consequently, our experience of arguments tend to feel as if they actually are battles.

There are hundreds of examples like this.

In everyday life, we speak and think in metaphors all the time.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this.

But, our experiences can easily become unnecessarily restrictive when we mistake our metaphors for literal descriptions and objective truths.

In The Hermeneutics of Postmodernity, G.B. Madison wrote:

“Metaphor performs an existential function in that it provokes a change in the way we view things, it brings about a transformation in our thinking.” 

Conceptual frames, when overlooked, show up as fixed unalterable realities. Those same frames, when recognized and understood, begin to function as props that we can pick up or put down depending on how we wish to play (notice my use of the life as a game metaphor).

By becoming conscious of our metaphors, we gain the ability to deliberately create pattern interrupts in our own thinking.

What happens to your “problem” when you cease to think of it as “the way it is” and you begin to explore the possibility that you are the victim not of reality, but of the metaphors you’ve learned to live by?

Fired up by metaphors? Here’s a great article by Maria Popova, founder of Brain Pickings, on The Magic of Metaphor: What Children’s Minds Teach Us about the Evolution of the Imagination

My life is financed and funded by the rich substance of the Universe

“There is a thinking stuff from which all things are made, and which, in its original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe. A thought, in this substance, produces the thing that is imaged by the thought. Man can form things in his thought, and, by impressing his thought upon formless substance, can cause the thing he thinks about to be created.” -Wallace Wattles

My inner spirit of prosperity is a wealth magnet attracting abundance, in all of its forms, into my experience.

The abundance of life surrounds me on all sides. I can never get away from it for I am always located in the center of it. It is the very space in which I reside. As a fish swims in water, so my being is bathed in this invisible and limitless sea of supply.

I live continuously in a recognition of this supply and I confidently acknowledge its responsiveness to my thought.

While I am grateful for my job and all other visible means of provision, my faith is firmly rooted in that omnipresent spiritual substance out of which all physical things are made. This is the true and lasting source of my wealth.

From this place of awareness, I boldly declare:

My life is financed and funded by the rich substance of the Universe!

T.K. Coleman

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