Life Metaphors are a variety of “core metaphors” that reflect “idealized cognitive models” (ICM’s), according to anthropological linguists George Lakoff and Paul Johnson in their groundbreaking book, Metaphors We Live By. Such core metaphors govern our conceptions about whole domains of experience by having multiple metaphoric entailments. My example yesterday of Life as a Carousel or Merry-Go-Round shows this well. Life has Its Ups and Downs; It goes Round and Round; we may find ourselves reaching for “the Brass Ring”. Yet, of course, all of this is imaginary, or…well, embedded in our cognitive mindset. Because of the all-encompassing nature of the conceptual model that a key metaphor creates, reality itself is mapped onto our ICM of It, and we become somewhat bound to our model, or, schematic cognitive mindset.
This week’s general topic is about transforming self-limiting beliefs and personal myths into Bettter Endings scenarios. Merry-Go-Round horses leaping from their platforms overnight changes the Life Metaphor of Life as a Carousel by adding a new dimension of FLEXIBILITY into the model. As another first principle for creating Better Endings,then, flexibility is on the top shelf of our toolbox!
Flexibility incorporates lots of Better Endings principles in itself, doesn’t it? Creativity, Acceptance, Adaptability, Mindfulness; all of these are activated in a genuinely flexible thought or action. Flexibility involves a willingness to bend and to adjust, so it is helpful and often necessary for transforming self-limiting attitudes, beliefs or behavior.
I am reminded of two poetic images, both penned by Robert Frost.
The first, on “Acceptance“:
Ah, when to the heart of man,
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To bend with a grace to reason
and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?
The second, from Frost’s “Birches”:
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
Mandi’s Guest (Re-)Blog on Thursday shares her “life secret” of Letting Go. This is part and parcel of flexibility, to RELEASE. Robert Frost’s image of birch boughs laden with ice and snow in winter and then winging back to the sky and freedom–though forever arched by the experience–evokes the suppleness and fresh vitality needed for, or perhaps resulting from, a shift of attitude: from holding on, to letting go and ALLOWING a new way come into Being.
Sometimes I think this is much of what the effects of physical aging are about: what we hold onto and then, eventually, what we are able to release. My mother who is 86 with Parkinson’s has had to release so much already (her mobility, most household possessions, solid food) and, over time, she will release the rest of her burdens from this life–and her loves–so she can move on to the next cycle of death and rebirth; however your belief system frames that. (By the way, I highly recommend reading Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven if you are struggling with a loved one’s or your own physical mortality.)
A spiritual author I regard highly, Harold Klemp, in How to Survive Spiritually in Our Times, says that one’s “degree of acceptance” determines one’s level or state of consciousness. What are you willing to Accept means, how flexible are you; how far are you willing to bend and what can you let go of to allow a Better Ending? I agree with Mandi that this is what it takes to transform our lives or habits, from rigid to supple, from stubborn to wiser; bringing well-being and a fresh, vital, childlike perspective into our daily actions and choices. Flexibility allows us to transform self-limiting beliefs or fixed models so we can follow through on our most conscious, mindful decisions.
Flexibility is the essence of our willingness to grow, to learn, to unfold in greater freedom rather than being pinned down by the accretion of rigid thoughts or withered attitudes. And so, flexibility empowers us to transform self-limiting mindsets into life affirming gestures of allowing ourselves and others to grow, to explore, and to achieve the life of our and their dreams.
What is it that you would love to be doing, if you could release self-limiting concepts? Allow yourself to be all that you care to be, to do all that you mindfully dare to do, to become all that you ARE!
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