Updated: Oct 9, 2021
One of the biggest challenges we face in any type of communication is clarity. While there may be exceptions when we purposely create confusion or suspense for a dramatic effect, ultimately, being understood is the goal.
What helps in certain situations is using symbols, analogies, or similarities. These are beneficial ways for people to “connect the dots” and recognize what is being said. Metaphors are also an excellent way of bringing clarity or a better understanding of an unfamiliar experience.
When describing what I do, I often say that I am someone who guides people on their journeys of emotional healing and greater personal development. Technically, the word “journey,” as Merriam-Webster defines it, suggests a travel or passage from one place to another. Our emotional healing journey doesn’t require travel, but when we experience healing, it feels like we have progressed and the word journey is rather appropriate.
Another metaphor frequently used for overcoming personal struggles is the word “battle.” Our efforts can be so intense it’s as though we are in the midst of a fight, often needing figurative weapons to help us conquer and defeat whatever weaknesses we are prevailing over.
The following poem is from my recently published book and is an example of a battle metaphor.
He entered the battle at a very young age,
Without even knowing the war he’d soon wage.
His training was poor and filled with mistakes,
The struggle was grueling and filled with heartaches.
The enemy was keen and swift to attack,
Standing guard at the front while striking his back.
He would turn to the right and no one was there,
Then quickly look left with a battle-worn stare.
It was as though the enemy sensed his next thought,
Laughing at the lad and foiling his plot.
The boy soon grew weary and wanted to give in,
Having lost all desire for this battle to win.
Like many before him, he wandered dismayed,
On the battlefield of life – confused and afraid.
His plans all defeated, no more weapons to use,
He thought there was only one thing left to choose.
What becomes of this soldier we’ll soon find out,
As we discover with him what this battle’s about.
I’m not sure how many people are able to relate to this poem but it certainly rang true with me. For someone who began his journey in his early 50s, it would make more sense if the soldier were a man rather than a boy. The second line, however, clarifies that issue. I had no idea I was in a figurative war and my enemy would have me on the run for most of my life.
The enemy, as many of you may know, was shame.
Whatever conflict, fight, or competition you may find yourself squarely in the middle of, a good way to be victorious is to know your enemy, understand their thinking, and predict their next move. In the case of our own personal battle, the enemy is usually us.
Logic would dictate that if we are battling ourselves, we would easily know what our next move is and be able to counter anything we throw at ourselves. But if this were the case, why do so many struggle on the battlefield of life? For many, shame is a mighty enemy. It is extremely good at hiding itself and not showing how powerfully it impacts our thoughts, actions, and decisions.
In case you are wondering why I often refer to shame as though it is a separate entity from ourselves, it is another way, a personification, to help understand how it works. Defining shame as, “the negative things we’ve come to believe about who we were and are,” in certain ways can feel like another person belittling and demeaning us, telling us we are worthless. Yet we are the ones saying it. Although someone else may have said those things in the past, it becomes shame when we accept what they say about us.
There are also those whose shame creates feelings of arrogance and superiority specifically to cover up their low self-esteem. Rather than succumbing to feelings of worthlessness, shame brags about them and exaggerates their accomplishments. This can also feel like another person is complimenting them when what they are really doing is burying their shame and hoping they are experiencing their own false version of confidence.
In either of these scenarios, it becomes extremely difficult to see who we truly are. The ability to predict our next move is severely hindered and that’s how the enemy – ourselves – can have the upper hand.
I am truly thankful that in my situation, I became hyper-aware of shame, asking myself at nearly every opportunity if what I was about to do was being influenced by shame. I also began to observe it in others and watched how it impacted their choices, expanding my understanding of how it operated in unlimited ways.
Little did I know when my journey began, I would soon write a book and dedicate myself to helping others overcome and heal from this powerful emotion which has overwhelmed so many.
One other aspect is that we all react differently to shame because of our life’s experiences. For some, it can be a hurdle which is nearly insurmountable, while others were fortunate enough to have had adequate training and effective tools that helped them defeat this powerful foe.
It can be extremely complicated and for some, may require intensive work and guidance. If you or anyone you know struggle with shame, I am here to support you in your battle. I’ll help arm you with effective weapons and guide you through your journey, healing from shame. and using it as a springboard for future success.
Thanks as always and I look forward to your comments.