Some days I feel like I am in a boat without a paddle… That noise could wake the dead… I am doing my best to keep my balls up in the air…
We use metaphors every day, even often without thinking about it, to convey our thoughts in a meaningful way that others will feel the impact of. Metaphors have been used for generations. We see them used over and over in classic literature, like Shakespeare. The Bible also uses metaphors over and over to help people understand God’s deep love for them and how they should live.
Metaphors can have a powerful impact when used in coaching, as well as, to provide a new perspective and resolution. Seasons of Change is a method of coaching using metaphors that I have been trained in and felt the impact of.
It is a technique developed by Carol McClelland. After going through the loss of her dad, she began to see the similarities of what she was experiencing to the changing of the seasons in nature. She found that the characteristics of animals, plants, and weather that took place in each of the seasons coordinated with her needs and experiences in her loss. As a result she wrote a book and started a training program for counselors and life coaches to learn how to use these metaphors to help client’s express their needs, learn about their transitions, and find techniques to provide hope and meaning to the transition.
To give you a better idea of the impact that Seasons of Change can have on someone going through transition, I would like to share a little about the metaphors in nature used in this method and some examples of how these techniques apply to different kinds of transitions.
Fall is a time when change is slowly coming on the horizon. The air is getting cooler, leaves are changing and animals are migrating. A personal experience with fall would be someone that has had medical tests that indicate a diagnosis of cancer and now they are having more in-depth tests to determine the extent of the cancer and the possible treatments. It is a time when they know that change is coming, but are unsure what it means.
Early winter is a time when animals are preparing for and entering into hibernation. Just like animals, someone in early winter who is going through the loss of a loved one needs to slow down, seek space and quiet, and to find a safe haven where they can spend time reflecting, resting, spending time with God, and renewing. The next part of winter is the winter solstice. During the winter solstice, the days are dark, the weather is cold, and the animals are tucked away in deep sleep. In the same way, someone in winter solstice going through the loss of a loved one may see the world as dark and need to be tucked away spending time on their own and with those that they feel strongly support them. They are asking questions and seeking answers to the transition that they are going through.
In spring, the gray winter is giving way to bright green plants, new growth, baby animals, and the air is getting warmer. In the same way, the individual going through a transition like transitioning to a new job after being a stay at home parent is starting hit their stride in their new job. They have gone through the training at work and worked hard to get their family used to the changes of them working. They see hope and a new future on the horizon, but they also see the need to protect and nurture this new phase of their life and continue to learn and adjust.
Summer is filled with hope, bright colors, rich vegetation, and warm temperatures. In the same way, someone having gone through a loss or transition is seeing a new life for themselves. They have come through their transition, have done the work to heal and reflect. They have come through relapses and now they see all the positive and good on the horizon. This is a time to enjoy and celebrate what they have come through and how they have grown. For example, when someone has come through the time of having struggled to lose weight and they have achieved their goal. They are starting to get the pace of life in their new body and with their new way of eating and being. Life feels easy and good after struggling through the transition.
I use these vivid metaphors with the women in coaching to draw attention to the signs, tasks, and support needed during the transitions. Using the seasons and nature provides a powerful way for people to lean into the change that is happening, so they can give value to the struggle and move through it to get to other side to live a full life again.