NLP, Metaphors, and Health

Filed Under (Life Coaching & NLP) on 18-07-2016

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Many people say that the older they get, the slower their ailments heal, or the worse their health gets. Many others say that their injuries never fully healed. How do those people encourage and discourage healing without realizing it?  

What you think and say to yourself matters.  Energy follows thought. Energy flows where attention goes.  Attention = concentration = energy. We get what we concentrate on.  If you concentrate on pain, you’ll get pain.  Statements like “I have a head/tooth/backache” strengthen your concentration on the ache and affirm that you ‘have’ the ache, that the ache is a static thing which you ‘have’ and can do little or nothing about.  Your mind and body are one inseparable system, thus your mind  plays an active part in (not) healing your body.

What you say to yourself matters. Thus if you say things like

  • my back is killing me
  • put your back into it
  • I can’t back out of this
  • break a leg [= quaint Brit slang meaning good luck!]
  • it’s doing my head in
  • this (situation / issue) is a headache
  • pain in the neck/butt
  • (don’t) break your neck
  • it costs an arm and a leg
  • this is / you are getting under my skin
  • this makes / you make me sick
  • this is / you are getting on my nerves
  • it’s breaking my heart
  • they’re bleeding me dry
  • it’s / you’re making my blood boil

etc., those and many similar statements will certainly affect your health.

Medicine should help us regain balance, yet at least in the Western world many people play (and condition others to play) to the prevailing metaphor of medicine as war. Health is often described as successful defence against constant attacks from the outside, we’re encouraged to fight germs; tonics / vitamins / potions / medicines can bolster the body’s defences; recovery = battling the illness, fighting the disease; you may suffer from a sudden attack of illness.  Pharmaceutical companies advertise the vast arsenal of drugs in the medical armoury in evocatively military ways. Some drugs are described as painkillers, others as magic bullets, and they’re all there to fight / kill symptoms.   Our immune system is often described as an army or a killing machine.  We fight a war against cancer and other conditions, we fight diseases, die after long-term battle with illness / disease, and all this happens despite research showing that we have a hand in creating these conditions – or a foot in the enemy camp.  We’ll never win a battle when we’re fighting for both sides at once.

Metaphors have consequences.  What are the consequences of metaphors of this camp for any person who lives in using them so naturally that s/he doesn’t realize it day over day, year over year? How do these metaphors influence our thinking?  They draw the attention to disease, not to health. They encourage us to look for answers and solutions outward, not inward.  This thinking encourages our dependence on health professionals, treatments, and drugs – and makes us give health professionals / treatments / drugs permission to control our power over our healing. We may become dissociated from our health. We may become separated from parts of our bodies or even view them as our enemies, and as a consequence of the war metaphor we may rely too much on the ability of medicine to repair the damage with drugs and surgery…

Illness can teach us a great deal.  Many of us often try to batter it into submission with drugs without understanding it(s message for us) or our reaction to it. But the battering approach has consequences – the enemy may come back stronger, the message may come shouting more loudly, and the drugs may damage our bodies.

How can we use metaphor for health in different ways?  How could the metaphor of martial arts or karate lead you to maintain health gracefully, to use your opponent’s force to defeat him?  Would you like to be a black belt in good health? Health as balance is a useful metaphor. What are the consequences of this metaphor?  We live in balance with other organisms and nature.  Illness is a sign that we’re out of balance and need to pay attention to regaining balance. Illness points out the weaknesses in our balance and our attention to regaining balance will make our balance stronger. How you think of health will influence what illness means to you and what you do when you’re ill.  So what’s your more useful metaphor for health?

The essence of NLP coaching is to help the coached person find / restore balance in all aspects of life.  Many people rightly argue that health is the most important aspect of life, for if we have no health, we have no life.  If you would benefit from someone impartial to your life to help you find / restore balance in the health and other aspects of your life, contact me.

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