Changing patterns through metaphors

Changing patterns through metaphors

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In this series, personal coach / trainer & owner of in2motivation Peter Koijen talks about how internationals in the Netherlands can make their time at work more enjoyable: from leadership and motivation tips to increasing work pleasure and altering your mindset in an ever-changing work environment.

Using metaphors is a great way to teach yourself about life and an even better way to recognise and break patterns.

Metaphors may already be apparent in your life without you realising it. You can find these metaphors to create meaning and help you develop to your next level in life.

This is because recognising and using metaphors has an enormous effect on our unconscious, as the unconscious mind works on messages on different levels to the conscious.

What are metaphors?

Metaphors are analogies, figures of speech. You compare two things and that comparison offers a meaning or understanding. There are many different types of metaphors, but here we will keep the discussion to three:

 Firstly, stories are great metaphors: they give meaning through messages.

 Secondly, objects are great metaphors: they give meaning through how you use them in your life.

 And thirdly, activities or hobbies act as great metaphors also.

Stories as metaphors

Let’s start with some stories...

 The trapped dog

Once upon a time there was a dog which was part of a family. The family went on holiday and left the dog tied to a tree. The dog struggled to free himself by pulling at the rope around his neck.

The more he pulled, however, the tighter the rope became. Ironic, isn’t it? He pulled until he was so tired that, because his body relaxed, the rope just fell off his neck and he could easily, without knowing exactly how, pull away and be free.

This is an excellent story to tell to people who want to let go of something. The meaning itself is subjective, depending on what people find themselves struggling with. What is important here is that everyone finds their own way of giving meaning to this story!

 Little Red Riding Hood

The story of Little Red Riding Hood, one of the most popular traditional stories told to children around the world, is also full of messages.

Firstly, the naïve girl who doesn’t see the danger in her life (the wolf). Secondly, the mission she has of bringing things to her grandmother that is part of the danger.

Thirdly, that there is always hope and rescue. You could go on and on finding different messages and meanings within this story.

Objects make great metaphors

My training company has a duck as a metaphor. It is partly because my surname (Koijen) comes from an old Belgium profession of duck caging. Rather than caging them, however, I am letting them go, freeing them into the world! But it also stands for playfulness and relaxation in training.

You can take any object you have in your life and give meaning to it. So the tree in front of your house is like your life, right? Because… and now you can fill in the blanks: it is as solid as a rock, can stand tall in the wind, experiences different types of weather and keep growing...

Using hobbies as metaphors

Activities or hobbies are great metaphors. Soccer is a metaphor for playing and for teamwork. Dancing is a metaphor for moving, or for bringing flexibility to your life when all the rest is stiff and rigid.

Maybe the hobbies or the activities in your life satisfy your needs in ways that the other things or people can’t. Maybe they satisfy a need or value like freedom, connection, variety or independence.

Whatever it does, it does great things for you.

Growth through metaphors

Learning about metaphors is great, because it means that you can better understand the positive effects they can have on your life. It also means you can create new ones: new positive anchors in your life to improve it even more.

Enjoy your metaphors. They are yours - and yours only!

Peter Koijen, owner of in2motivation, is a life coach, motivational speaker and trainer for private individuals and companies. He aims to get the best out of you every day.

For more visit in2motivation or Peter Koijen’s LinkedIn profile.


Peter Koijen


Peter Koijen

owner of in2motivation

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