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On Metaphor


“Metaphor, that’s how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive.” ~ Gregory Bateson. This is my favourite from this collection of 25 quotes about metaphor…

  1. “A metaphor carries a great deal of information in a compact and memorable package.” ~ James Lawley and Penny Tompkins

  2. “A symptom is a metaphor waiting to happen.” ~ David Grove

  3. “All knowledge is ultimately rooted in metaphorical (or analogical) modes of perception and thought.” ~ David Leary

  4. “Even highly abstract ideas depend, in part, on how people interact with the physical world.” ~ Daniel Casanto

  5. “Human thinking depends on metaphor. We understand new and complex things in relation to the things we already know… once you pick a metaphor it will guide your thinking.” ~ Jonathan Haidt

  6. “In all aspects of life… we define our reality in terms of metaphors and then proceed to act on the basis of the metaphors. We draw inferences, set goals, make commitments, and execute plans, all on the basis of how we in part structure our experience, consciously and unconsciously, by means of metaphor.” ~ George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

  7. “Metaphor impinges on everything, allowing us – poets and non-poets alike – to experience and think about the world in fluid, unusual ways.” ~ James Geary

  8. “Metaphor is halfway between the unintelligible and the commonplace.” ~ Aristotle

  9. “Metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.” ~George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

  10. “Metaphor is the first language of feeling.” ~ Philip Harland

  11. “Metaphor mediates the interface between the conscious and unconscious processes.” ~ David Grove

  12. “Metaphor, that’s how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive.” ~ Gregory Bateson

  13. “Metaphors have a way of creating realities. And since different metaphors create different realities, truth is always relative and related to its generative metaphor. ~ Thomas Sergiovanni

  14. “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.” ~ Prof. Orson Scott Card

  15. “Metaphors reveal the extent to which we think with our bodies.” ~ Drake Bennett

  16. “Our mind works largely by metaphor and comparison, not always (or often) by relentless logic. When we are caught in conceptual traps, the best exit is often a change in metaphor - not because the new guideline will be truer to nature (for neither the old nor the new metaphor lies “out there” in the woods,) but because we need a shift to more fruitful perspectives, and metaphor is often the best agent of conceptual transition.” ~ Stephen Jay Gould

  17. “Such fantastic images give us great delight, and, since they are created by us, they undoubtedly have a symbolic relation to our lives and destinies.” ~ Goethe

  18. “The abstract way we think is really grounded in the concrete, bodily world much more than we thought.” ~ John Bargh

  19. “The emotional brain is highly attuned to symbolic meanings and to the mode Freud called the ‘primary process’ – the messages of metaphor, story, myth, the arts.” ~ Daniel Goleman

  20. “The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.” ~ George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

  21. “There are few things as toxic as a bad metaphor. You can’t think without metaphor.” ~ Mary Catherine Bateson

  22. “We define Symbolic Modelling as a process, which uses Clean Language to facilitate people’s discovery of how their metaphors express their way of being in the world.” ~ James Lawley & Penny Tompkins

  23. “When an idea is important to a person or culture it will find its way into imagery.” ~ Joseph Campbell

  24. “While people often make use of common metaphors and clichés, the moment these are explored (with Clean Language) they become idiosyncratic and unique to the individual.” ~ James Lawley & Penny Tompkins

  25. “You don’t see something until you have the right metaphor to perceive it.” ~ Robert Shaw

Metaphor is a powerful doorway into the unconscious mind and being able to access and develop self generated metaphors (your own or other people’s) allows you to tap into the wisdom held within them and transform unhelpful metaphors into life enhancing resources. 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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    About Marian Way

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    A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

    Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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