Why do we place so much emphasis on metaphors and myths?
Because, whether intentional or not, they outline the beliefs we have about our internal and external environments.
When you tell someone, "food for thought," you want them to "chew" on the idea you just gave them, not just let it go in one ear and out the other. It means you're wanting to be understood, and at the very least heard, eventually. You're not expecting them to get it completely, or even right away, and if we are expecting perfection we are going to fail 9/10 based on the things we say and did not say! How could we be so matter of fact and certain with these hypotheses?
This is why artistic speech - through mythological and metaphorical talking - works to unify us, instead of against them, if and when we use each one well enough alone and together. *We can, will, and always end up adapting better when we made it clear that we had everyone's interests in mind at the time we said what we said and did what we did. When we don't, we lose sight of a golden opportunity to work together, instead of against one another.
The key is - it has be universally unifying. And if it's not, well, it better be fighting for the better or more universally unifying causes! Starting to see what we mean? Metaphors and myths can and will be abused by those with anti-social agendas. It doesn't take a genius to see this within all of our history via so much mythological discourse embedded in our categorical-media's metaphors (We overcomplicated all this very much on purpose, so let us clarify it a bit better for you now... ).
When you say, "I'm bottling my emotions up," it indicates you're stifling things that want out. You know that little sss sound when you open a bottle? That's pressure being released. This metaphor indicates a deep-seated feeling of confinement and pressurization.
When you say, "we are in the same boat," you are saying you feel that you and another person are experiencing the same thing. Draw out this metaphor, and a boat is a confined space surrounded by water, where people cannot naturally live. This indicates a sense of isolation: It is just you and the other person who are in the same boat with presumably not many similar people around you or in your field of vision. See what we + you mean when we / they / you message metaphorically.
Being able to understand and draw out metaphors to a natural conclusion helps us understand the mindsets and mentalities of others. It also lets us know their in-the-moment feelings, their expectations, their (mis)understanding of the situation they're navigating; so on, and so we will go -- according to whatever ways the myth or metaphor dictate.
Feeling lost? Depends on the way you metaphor and myth organically! It either seems helpful or doesn't at all; it definitely matters how open you are being right now. Starting to catch our drifts?
This is just our stream of consciousness.
Not all metaphors are so explicit though. Many, many metaphors are so common that we no longer see them as metaphors, and it is nearly impossible to remove the metaphor from the meaning in such cases.
For example: A body of text. A groundbreaking idea. Wasted time. Leg of a trip.
Also: If you're feeling happy, you're feeling up. If you're sad, you're down. If something isn't done according to social standards or expectations, it is backwards. These are directional metaphors.
When you talk about a boat, it's a she. As is nature. Neither is actually human.
When you talk about a concrete jungle, you're comparing buildings to trees and humans to animals. They (myths and metaphors) are frames of mind we use universally, they are little and/or large stories we tell ourselves, and therefore one another.
Do you live in a charming small town? Or an artistic city? Those sound like great adjectives for people, no? Metaphors are as charming and artistic as we allow them to be, and the same goes for our internal and external messages about own selves: We are always allowed to amp up our art and use artistic speech to create a greater understanding, to trend us universally into *better directions together.
Charming to think about, isn't it? (Neil would argue it is quite therapeutic, as well!)
Metaphors are everywhere. They tell us the filters (yet another metaphor) we are using when we are viewing the world around us. They're present in every single narrative, discussion, or debate.
We would not be the communication experts we strive and claim to be if we did not continually study and inspect the metaphors that saturate our language. (Saturate our language is another embedded metaphor, by the way).
What these filters tell us is how our current mentalities are structured, and how we can fine-tune those structures in order to more effectively be heard, hear others, and cultivate greater community with one another. (See our post on CommUnitCation, for more on that front.)
These metaphors also let us know what our personal mythologies are: The internal stories we'll live and die by, so to speak. They let us know how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we view our world's communities.
They also highlight how we communicate(d) our beliefs to others: Whether we were projecting, protecting, or persuading. Suffice it to say it can be convoluting and clarifying to speak in myths and metaphors, depending on whether you know what one meant or means to say by the figures of speech we use so (un)certainly... But that's a whole other topic we cover in-depth in our books!
So, for now, just consider how there are myriad ways to look at metaphors and myths, but do not worry, we love looking at them for you so you don't have to overthink the way you communicated and are communicating right now!
Our goal is to make it so you can sit back, relax, and advance whatever work you are doing in an even better direction than before we started working together (with little added effort, of course).
Want to learn more?
Reach out to us to talk about whether our Psycholinguistic Mythology consulting is something you'd like to have in your toolbox!
Let's talk (metaphorically),