Self-Description: Neuro-LINGUISTIC Programming is a lot about words: how they shape our perceptions, our relationships, our abilities, our beliefs and every aspect of our subjective experience.
Here are two very concise and examples from Steve Andreas revealing how they can take part in shaping our self image.
602 Words, 3.5 minutes reading time
By Steve Andreas
Often people don’t pay much attention to the words they use to describe themselves, and the consequences and ramifications of using these words. For instance, people who have had horrible experiences–particularly in early childhood–often describe themselves as “scarred for life.”
In the first place, they are engaged in fortune-telling without being qualified: No one can predict the future that well.
Some people continue to suffer from traumatic experiences into their later years, but many others don’t.
Secondly, they don’t examine the meanings of the words they use. Most people go “Oh, ‘scarred for life,’ Yes, terrible!” without thinking about what the words actually mean. I have quite a few scars, and none of them bother me a bit. Scar tissue is often considerably tougher than the original. Only a few scars continue to produce discomfort, and even then the discomfort is more often due to damage that never fully healed, than to the scar tissue itself. Scarring is actually a sign that the body healed itself and made itself whole again.
Another aspect of scars is that they may be visible to others, depending on where they are located. Some people who were abused as children behave as if these events were obvious and known to others. (Whether this is the reason for choosing the word “scarred” or the result of it is not clear.)
Some of my scars are still quite clear and obvious, but most of them have simply disappeared, or been incorporated into wrinkles–one of the benefits of growing older.
Even the meaning of obvious scars depends on how they are viewed. Early in this century in Germany, a visible dueling scar was considered a badge of honor. When I was in high school in New Mexico in the 1950’s, many students flaunted their knife scars as a sign of bravery. Some African tribes deliberately create elaborate decorations on their skins by scarring. I have even met quite a few women with scars that made their faces much more interesting than they would have been without them.
So what does “scarred for life” really mean?–only what you choose it to mean.
A Knight in Shining Armor
Although the image is less popular now, women used to describe the ideal man as “a knight in shining armor,” and quite a few men tried to live up to this image.
Examine your own image of knighthood, and you can easily see how women often got what they asked for, but didn’t want.
A knight in armor has a cold, hard exterior, and this makes it difficult to see the real man inside. Trapped inside that armor, he’ll be unexpressive and unable to show his feelings. A knight will be up on his “high horse” a lot of the time–and he’ll need help to get up there again when he falls off. He will also want to use his lance–a lot. Who’s going to shine his armor and take care of his horse? Often he’ll be off rescuing (other) damsels in distress, or on crusades in other lands, rather than at home with his wife and children.
The metaphors and images we use have a way of steering our thinking and our lives. It’s wise to be cautious about the ones we use, and examine them to see if they are taking us where we really want to go. An old saying goes, “Be very careful what you set your heart upon, for someday it may be yours.”
Excerpted from “Is There Life Before Death?” by Steve Andreas (c) 1995
(Yes, we still have some copies in hardcover at the special “warehouse treasure hunt” deal… two for one plus half price (that’s actually 75% Off! ) on this story collection, “Is There Life Before Death?” BTW, a couple of smart cookies who are coaches bought case lots for holiday gifts for their clients. Great idea, and really congruent with a coaching practice!)