Do you ever think about the metaphors you use throughout your day?
Orson Scott Card said that metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space. That truth consists of all the facts and realities of life circumstances. Metaphors include stories, anecdotes, and symbols that carry meaning across from one thing to another. In their book, Metaphors We Live By, the authors Lakoff & Johnson define metaphor as “understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another” (p. 5). Metaphors are phrases, images, or sayings that compare two things to one another. P.C. Rosenblatt, a professor of family social science, notes that metaphors help individuals transfer important meanings from a primary, already known domain to a new domain. A wedding ring, for example, is symbolic of everlasting love and a rabbit’s foot is a symbol for luck. In his poem, “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost used a metaphor to compare life to a journey along a road.
Metaphors become symbols of people, objects, or events. Common metaphors include, “it’s on the tip of my tongue” and “it’s raining cats and dogs.” Although it is not always obvious, the comparison shapes our thinking. I have used sports metaphors with my sons, “We’ve got to be on the same team here!” I have also used a cooking metaphor with coworkers when explaining certain assignments, “I put that on the back burner.” Other metaphors I have said include “I’m jumping for joy” and “The apple of my eye”. Take the time today to listen to the metaphors you use and the metaphors of others. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org