In Part 1 of this blog, I showed how I had been combining NLP with TA (Hay, 2002) and wrote about why it is important to realise that our metaphors may carry more meaning than we intend. I also wrote about everyday maps and identity maps. Below is another extract from the 2002 article, where I link these ideas to script and present my 5E model for checking metaphors.
Berne (1972) and Steiner (1974) went further and suggested the notion of lifescripts. Berne refers to our use of fairy stories - people unwittingly become characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, Robin Hood, Prince Charming or Cinderella. We may instead become one of the other players in such stories, especially if we have decided not to be too important. Having heard the story that seems to fit our experiences of the world at a young age (before seven), we decide to be that character and then grow up with no conscious awareness of our decision.
‘Cinderella’ may well work hard for many years while her (or his – these are unisex) manager (wicked stepmother) and colleagues (ugly sisters) take all the credit – until one day a mentor (fairy godmother) ensures that Cinders gets to present at the annual conference (ball) and the senior manager (Prince) finally recognises just how good Cinders is and promotes her/him (marries and takes to castle). Or Robin Hood may adopt a role as official or unofficial staff representative (outlaw) and spend time arguing (fighting) with a manager (Sheriff of Nottingham) on behalf of the workforce (peasants), both overtly through open attacks and covertly by awarding perks that are outside the rules - until one day the Chief Executive (King Richard) makes a visit and sees what has been happening and demotes the manager and promotes Robin.
The modern version of this lifescript process may well be that children choose TV programmes or films instead of fairy stories. Perhaps we will now have people who live like characters from Star Trek, no longer boldly going but leading through involvement, or being totally empathic, or operating very rationally and without emotions – the programme offers many choices.
Berne also referred to Campbell (1973) who had identified that there are only a limited number of themes to fairy stories around the world, and that these also fit Greek myths. Kahler (1979) developed this to identify some characteristic ways of behaving that encapsulate the lifetime themes within single interactions. Thus, we may unwittingly reinforce patterns that comprise:
Monitoring our Maps
Whether we are functioning as managers, facilitators, mentors, coaches, trainers, etc, it is important that we become aware of our own metaphors and paradigms so that we do not impose these unwittingly on others. It can also be useful to check out a few of our maps – we may well find some common themes.
The following are some suggestions for the aspects to check once we recognise that we are operating within a metaphor or paradigm:
Berne, Eric (1972) What Do You Say After You Say Hello? New York: Grove Press
Campbell, Joseph (1973) The Hero with a Thousand Faces Princeton: Princeton University Press
Hay, Julie (2002) Metaphors and Paradigms – Whose Map of the World? Organisations & People 9:4 2-8
Kahler, Taibi (1979) Process Therapy in Brief Little Rock, AR: Human Development Publications
Steiner, Claude (1974) Scripts People Live New York: Bantam
© 2018 Julie Hay
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