Metaphors of Movement and Motion

People often arrive in therapy complaining of a lack of movement in their lives, both metaphorically and literally.

Commonly referred to as “stuck states” it is not uncommon for therapists to focus their attention on how the person feels to be stuck, but to largely ignore the manner by which they are stuck.

But when we can hear the structure of the person’s metaphor, getting the person freed from the difficulty can become a very simple process indeed, which carries a higher therapeutic and generative value than merely changing the person’s feelings.

Common expressions of how the person feels that reflects this lack of movement include:

    • I feel stuck
    • I don’t feel like I am going anywhere
    • I am stuck in a rut
    • I feel like I am going around in circles
    • I’m not making any progress at all
    • I am not moving forward
    • I feel like I am going backwards

There are many expressions that reflect a lack of movement in a person’s life. In addition to this, many people lack direction:

    • I don’t know where I am going
    • I don’t know which way to turn next
    • I feel lost
    • I lack direction in life
    • I feel disorientated
    • I feel like I’m going the wrong way in life
    • I don’t know the right way forward

Instead of paying attention to these metaphors of movement and direction, all too often in therapy, there is excessive attention paid to the kinesthetic system and the emotions. As a result, we often find a person who finds themselves unable to move forward until they have the right feeling in place.

It is often noticed that many martial arts and systems of physical movement are highly philosophical in nature, an example that is well known to many people is from Aikido, where an opponents movement is not blocked, but instead is redirected.

In his Metaphors of Movement training, Austin demonstrates the relationship between the way a person moves their body and the way a person moves through their mind and through their life. This workshop also details the type of path on which a person moves. Life is often described as a journey and we walk different paths. This can reflect the type of terrain, or environment, with which the person interacts.

Common expressions of a person’s terrain include:

    • I have fallen on hard times
    • I am on shaky ground
    • It’s an uphill struggle
    • I’m skating on thin ice
    • I’m out in the open here
    • I’m at a crossroads in my life
    • I’m walking a dangerous path
    • It’s a jungle out there
    • It’s a long road ahead

The mode of transport is important too and is something that is so often overlooked. for example, in order to feel like we are getting somewhere in life, we may need to:

    • put our best foot forward
    • put one foot in front of the other
    • stand up for ourselves
    • take one step at a time
    • jump in with both feet
    • leap ahead of ourselves

But sometimes we may feel as though we are moving too slowly or that we are not the driver of this transport, but rather are a passenger:

    • we are racing ahead
    • we are driving this forward with great haste
    • ploughing ahead
    • it’s all plain sailing
    • it’s all rolling out of control
    • I’m being taken down a path I don’t want to go
    • it feels as though the wheels have come off

For details of consultancy and bespoke training, please contact:

Andrew T. Austin (West Sussex, UK) 
email: freshnewbrain@gmail.com