The Metaphor: “It’s like I’m in a boxing arena with a giant monster that keeps punching me in the face. All my family are cheering for me to keep fighting.”
The client suffers from an undiagnosed disease which makes them cold and weak all the time.
First, some idioms:
- He’s probably going to lose this fight.
- He is boxed in.
- He is too small to win this fight.
- The problem is monstrous.
- It’s a dangerous situation.
- The conflict is contained, there are rules and boundaries at play here.
- The support from his family isn’t helping.
- This fight/conflict provides some entertainment and recreation for the supporters.
- He is conflicted.
- The monster he faces is a heavy hitter.
- He might be too small and weak to fight back.
- This is a fight for survival.
(There’s a good list of boxing idioms here)
For me, this is the core idiom: The area of greatest impact to his life is what this client is facing. It is monstrous.
Ergo: The monster is a warning.
The exact details of the boxing ring are not given, but if we assume that this metaphoric boxing ring has all the standard features, we will have the stage (supports), the ropes (boundaries and container), elevation (status), the bodily contact (hurts) and anthropomorphization of the monster and the family (stereotype of other people).
By putting these all together this takes the session in a completely different direction to what might have been presupposed or expected.
This has many of the features of the stage metaphor, which is taught at level 3 in the MoM training program. Level 3 trainees will of course immediately be aware of exactly what to do with this metaphor.
In addition to this, we have the issue of the monster being both the monster and people to whom the client relates in the same way as this monster. These will be people he has to face, and in doing so, ends up getting hurt. It is painful to have to face these people every day.
Level 2 trainees will be aware that the Hurts taxonomy is about relationships, specifically the permissions we give others in order to relate to us. When such relationships become painful, a good strategy is to change the relationship with the offending party by changing one’s position relative to them.
But it’s also about the face. He is punched repeatedly in the face, this almost certainly pertains to identity issues. It’s right there in front of him, punching him in the face. It hurts, and it appears monstrous to him. He is unlikely to be able to fight this for long. He must either succumb, submit, tap out, throw in the towel, or change his position.
As this occurs within the container of the boxing ring, we know that this situation was both inevitable and not of the client’s own making. This situation reflects not a character weakness or psychological problem of the client, but rather is a description of what the client and the client alone has to deal with.
This is not only his role and identity within the family unit with which he grew up, but his family outside of this unit are actively encouraging him to continue with this.
It is undoubtedly time for him to grow up and grow out of this.
Those family members who are cheering him on with this fight may well be in opposition to this personal growth and end up disappointed with him should he succeed in growing out of this identity conflict. As a result, the conflict may end up outside of the boxing ring and move out into the greater context.
The story of Moses from his birth to the Exodus would be a good analogous story from the classics to work with for this metaphor. If you have others, do please recommend them in the comment section below.