Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Master

“the metaphor is perhaps one of man’s most fruitful potentialities. Its efficacy verges on magic, and it seems a tool for creation which God forgot inside one of His creatures when He made him.”
Jose Ortega y gasset

The master of metaphor Winston Churchill understood that to make something understandable, the message had to be given to the receivers’ brain in a way the brain can create a picture with it; after all, a picture can incorporate a thousand words. Nearly everyone finds it easier to understand in terms of metaphors. For example, “struggling to keep my head above water”, is a cry many people howl when they have taken on too much work.
It is interesting to consider the power of metaphors within our own internal questioning. Can internal stress be increased by saying you're “struggling to keep your head above water” rather than “climbing the ladder of success”? If working is seen in a similar light as “pulling teeth”, will it make the task much more arduous than if it was seen as “playing a game”? When a metaphor is given, it’s important to remember the framework it’s sending your internal mind. It is far easier supporting the mind, than informing it about the possibility of drowning or having teeth removed.
The power of metaphors is dicussed futher in the new book (due start 2007) 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' by myself and Mr Tim Kevan

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Psychiatry and Surfing at the Beach

Next time you are at the beach, spare some time to observe the waves. Many will have heard life advice ‘go with the flow’, but is this really the answer? If you take the journey of life to be analogous to surfing the sea waves then there are several things to consider.

Just as in life, ground work must be undertaken. The way the sea, wind, shore, tides, and moon interact must be learnt about. Knowledge must be attained about the equipment, boards and the safety procedures. Dangers and consequences must be considered with reference to respecting what's around you and the environment's possible limitations. Inevitably there will be obstacles along the way and some waves will throw the surfer off the wave resulting in the full weight of the water above, crashing down upon them. Each situation has to be dealt with individually; but the important thing is never to loose the love for trying, otherwise that would be paramount to lacking the zest for life. Instead the surfer must get straight back on the surf board and rise up to the next challenge. Surfers can expect to get thrown off some waves, but rather than seeing these ‘wipe outs’ as failures and giving up, surfers seize them as learning opportunities. Mistakes and ‘wipe outs’ are experiences to learn from and it’s never too late to learn from failures and share knowledge with others. Buckminster Fuller once wrote “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence of trial and error experience. Humans have learned through mistakes.”

Surfers need to carefully consider which wave to catch and which direction they must point their board in order to gain the most awesome ride. Surfers quickly learn to consider their direction of travel, as not only do they have to be able to avoid dangerous sea bed rocks but also their wave position makes the difference between riding a wave and falling off it. This is analogous to planning life’s journey, as forgetting to consider the direction of travel would be like trying to fit together a jigsaw puzzle without having seen the bigger picture. Life does not and can not stand still, deciding upon the wave to follow, prevents just ‘going with the flow’ of water and being washed up somewhere you had not anticipated to be. Instead, surfers learn to steer their own course and ultimately their own destiny.

These thoughts will be included in a new self-help book entitled 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' (xpl publishing), which will be available in bookshops from 2007.