Your Life Metaphor

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Photo by Anita Jankovic

Hey, have you heard about the elephant in the room?

Was your childhood a safe harbor with adults who blocked the icy winds of life? Or was it more like a nightmare filled with crazy grownups chasing the dragon? Were you a late bloomer left high and dry after college or a rising star on top of the world?

Welcome to the realm of metaphors. It’s been said that if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a metaphor is worth 1,000 pictures.

You immediately get the idea or concept but you also know that I am not referring to a literal elephant or dragon. And even more importantly, you can feel or sense the strong emotions in the situation.

Metaphors give us a way of speaking in which one thing is EXPRESSED in terms of a Different thing: my childhood = safe harbor.

In my work of training professional Recovery Coaches, I am very interested in Life Metaphors because they are a way for us to talk about our lives and gain new perspective.

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I have experienced the power of Metaphors to heal and even transform because they allow us to express something vague or unknown or hidden and give it a form that is vivid, memorable and even satisfying.

The first time I drew my Life Metaphor was over twenty years ago. After getting quiet and ‘stepping back’ to look at my life, I saw myself walking on the road of life. I was on a journey but couldn’t see the destination… most of the way was hilly but
manageable until I found myself stumbling through a dark and dangerous jungle. Deadly snakes were crawling across my path and blocking me…. I understood these creatures were a symbol of the dangers of addiction in my family.

Realizing that I overcame this danger helped me to reframe my years of struggle and dread into an experience of confidence from overcoming such a deadly encounter. I saw myself not as a failure defined by having to go through years of struggle, but rather as someone who lived through a long and dangerous jungle experience and even helped bring others to safety.


Drawing a few simple lines on a sheet of paper allowed me to express my hidden shame related to the stigma of addiction and helped me reframe my life story.

My self awareness has grown and I can embrace the truth: “I have what it takes to face the dangers in life and to become stronger and more compassionate in the process.”

I invite you to create a Life Metaphor to see your situation in a new light, to hear your heart in a new way and to look at old concerns differently.

It’s easy. Take a few minutes to quiet yourself. Get in a comfortable place without distractions. Think back over your life, your family and childhood, major milestones and life transitions. Where are you now? Do you see a theme or a symbol of your life?


A Life Metaphor is a symbol or snapshot of your life that can be expressed in a storyline or picture. Examples: my life as a journey, a river, a jungle, a garden, a battle, a symphony, building a house, a spiritual quest, etc. On a regular blank piece of paper draw the visual of your life. Keep it simple. Express the shape and form your life has taken in a way that is satisfying to you.

When you are ready, permission is granted for you to envision the next season of your life by using another sheet of paper and drawing your Desired Future by extending your Life Metaphor. And, you are invited to change metaphors if you’d like to. It’s your Life!


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