How something as fluffy as metaphors make for soul-inspired real world changes

Metaphors are potent vessels of transformation. They are used everywhere in our world to influence our behaviour. For example in marketing and politics. They have so much impact, because we don’t just hear them, or see them with our ears and eyes. They go directly to our gut. They impact us in a way that is much more direct than just words.

And actually, metaphors are even more powerful than that.

In a way: Everything is metaphor.

The main way that our body/mind/soul system make sense of the world, is by using metaphor. We compare something new we come across, with the things we are already familiar with. That’s how we learn. And that is the essence of metaphor. You could say it’s our primary operating language.

And wait, there is more.

Metaphor is also the language our soul uses to communicate with the rest of our system.

Our soul does not do logical, linear communication, the kind we have become so dependent on in our world. Our soul speaks in multi-layered, multi-faceted information. Images, sounds, visions. And metaphor is the vessel for this information to translate it into what we can understand.

So what happens when you take metaphor to be the primary vessel to support transformation?

Something truly magical. Using the Clean Questions David Grove developed in the 1980s, and a process called Symbolic Modelling developed by Penny Tomkpins and James Lawley, you can invoke your clients metaphors, and make them come alive.

When you ask them what they would like to have happen, and they say: ‘to feel confident and share my gifts with the world’, the exploration begins. And it might lead to it being ‘like the bright colourful lights in a Christmas tree, attracting attention, and spreading cheer.’ And though this might sound strange to you, it will make absolute sense to them.

When you explore further, you will see them lighting up, quite literally. And the Christmas tree might evolve and the lights may become brighter, or centered together, and other things will shift - within that metaphor landscape.

And when shifts happen, what happens is not just an idea that changed. No, it’s the way your client’s essence is structures, that changed. The fabric that they are made of is reorganised.

And this can ‘just’ happen. By asking questions with exquisite attention. By understanding where to take them on their exploration. By holding space and not deciding, not knowing, where their transformation, their shift will take place. But trusting the process, knowing that transformation will happen. In a beautiful, idiosyncratic way.

This is why metaphors hold so much power in Soul-based Coaching.

It is an easy way to tap into the soul wisdom of our clients, and trusting their natural capacity to heal and transform.

What it leads to? Organic real life changes. Once the metaphor shifted, the client sees the world in a different way, experiences it differently, thinks different thoughts. Out of that come different actions, different decisions. But for your client, the new things will be the most ‘logical’ thing to do, it’s already an integrated part of their system.

It’s why I love this work so much. Change can be easy, with a touch of magic.


Annemiek van Helsdingen

Academy for Soul-based Coaching

Invoke Your Client’s Magic 2017, the Soul-based Coaching certification program of the Academy for Soul-based Coaching is currently open for enrollment. You can find us here: