Metaphors of Emotion

Metaphors of Emotion

This is an extension of the Metaphors of Movement model and a highly effective way of exploring emotions and creating profound change in self and others.

Emotions are experienced and described through a number of bias filters and models. There are a number of different bias filters and metaphor structure that people can use, just some of which are given below.

As therapists, when we are able to hear the structure of the person’s emotions, creating rapid change in emotional health becomes very simple and straight forward.

For example:

Emotions as Object/Burden

    • “I carry the burden of guilt.”
    • “The guilt weighs me down.”
    • “I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
    • “I have a lot on my mind.”

Self as a Container for Emotions

    • “I am full of anger.”
    • “I am brimming over with rage.”
    • “I am full of love.”
    • “I feel empty inside.”

Emotions as Containers

    • “I am in a state of despair.”
    • “I am living in fear.”
    • “I am in love.”
    • “I am in a great frame of mind.”

Emotions as Temperature 

    • “That leaves me cold.”
    • “I’m all hot and bothered.”
    • “I am boiling with anger.”
    • “She is an ice-queen.”
    • “I am cold-hearted.”

Emotions as Pressure

    • “I am going to explode in a minute.”
    • “He just erupted without warning.”
    • “He’s like a volcano about to explode.”
    • “I need to let off steam.”
    • “I’m under a lot of pressure.”

Additionally to this, negative emotions are often referred to as forms of physical damage, such as, “I am hurt“, “I am torn apart,” “I feel suffocated“, “I’m feeling crushed” and so on. An understanding of the metaphorical structure of emotions can lead to rapid and profound change in both emotional health and relationships. In therapy, mismatching commonly occurs whereby the patient reports something like, “feeling crushed” and the therapist responds by trying to “put the client’s life back together,” which of course would be more apt for the client whose life has “fallen apart” or is “in pieces / in bits.”

The Metaphors of Emotion modules explore the complex area of emotions and feelings to better enable personal change for individuals and better intervention skills for change workers and therapists.