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What is your life metaphor?

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Image of a road with the caption "life is a journey" and below "or is it?"

Why metaphors are so powerful

At its core, a metaphor takes an abstract, hard to understand concept and compares it to a simple, concrete image or idea.

The main reason metaphors are so powerful is because our brain loves images. Research has shown that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text!

That’s why we have the saying “an image is worth a thousand words”. Or why writers abide by the golden rule “show, don’t tell”. Or why over 80% of marketing communication is visual these days.

Our brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text

But on a much deeper level, our whole concept of existence is metaphorical in nature. There are many things we can only comprehend by association, which is to understand one thing in terms of another. The body is a good example. Many think of their body as a machine. They see their brain as the computer, their heart as the motor, and so on.

Your metaphor determines how you see the world

The metaphors we use not only have a deep impact on how we perceive things but also on how we act and behave. Let's take the example of our body again. A person seeing their body as a machine with parts who break and wear out will probably treat it quite differently than someone who thinks of their body as a sacred vessel for their soul or spirit.

In the same way, the metaphor we see our lives through affects the way we live our daily life. Below are some of the most common life metaphors.

Which one resonates with you the most and why?

⚔️ Life is a battle

🎮 Life is a game

🚗 Life is a journey

😈 Life is hell

🧍 Life is a test

🥳 Life is a party

🎢 Life is a roller coaster

💼 Life is business

🚀 Life is an adventure

💃 Life is a dance

Examining your life metaphor

Since we’re often unaware of our chosen life metaphor, it’s worth reflecting on yours and examining it to understand its advantages and limitations.

You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:

  • In my metaphor, how do I see myself?

  • How do I see others?

  • What are the strengths of my metaphor?

  • What are the weaknesses of my metaphor?

  • How do I respond to challenges?

While there are no right or wrong life metaphors, an effective metaphor is one that helps you see the big picture of your life, motivates you in a positive way and allows you to deal with challenges in a healthy way.

If you find that your life metaphor is limiting your choices and holding you back, remember that you have the freedom to change or modify it.

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