“After walking out the backdoor, Elizabeth ambled off to the grape patch and decided to sit there on the ground until she could pick a raisin from the vine. Knowing that it might take some time for the grape to completely dehydrate, she closed her eyes, straightened her spine and began to meditate.”
“WHAT?” our rational mind protests. “You can’t just wait there until a grape shrivels into a raisin. It could take days. She can’t sit in meditation for days! That’s illogical.”
But the subconscious mind understood the story as metaphor for delayed gratification and immediately got the message from it. Elizabeth knew what she wanted, was willing to wait for it, and considered the wait-time as soul-nourishing and acceptable. It isn’t meant as a literal interpretation of events; it’s a hypnosis device called an Ericksonian metaphor.
Just to be clear, this brief story isn’t about the “dreams deferred” of Langston Hughes’ classic poem “Harlem” or the amazing 1959 Broadway play by Lorraine Hansberry, called “A Raisin in the Sun.”
This story is about how metaphors, particularly Ericksonian metaphors, access that inner systems program that runs our life—which is our subconscious mind—the behind the scenes controller of almost everything we think and do—from how we perceive and interpret the world around us, to how we react to those perceptions, because sometimes we automatically think someone is referring to one thing, when they are instead talking about another.
I was actually providing my own childhood memory of walking out the backdoor, going over to the grapevine area between our backyard and the garden, and sitting down waiting for the then tart green grapes to ripen to sweet burgundy for eating. My grandmother had come over to me sitting there and said I’d be waiting a long time for that to happen—like days; and I said I’d wait.
Of course I didn’t. Kids have no concept of time. But my grandmother also told me back then that if I waited there long enough, those grapes would miraculously change to raisins. I later learned that “miraculously” meant to dehydrate in the sun and shrivel on the vine. But miraculously sounded so much better.
Miraculous is how hypnosis works. I admit that hypnosis and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) absolutely fascinate me. That’s why I’ve been trained in those techniques.
I’m fascinated with them because so much of our lives we believe the world around us to be one particular way, and seldom comprehend that the world around us is how we perceive it to be. It is our perception of the world that makes it the way that it appears. And our perception is very changeable.
In the last 9 paragraphs I have shown that how you perceive and decipher what is presented to you can be easily manipulated and refocused toward a desired conclusion. That’s the beauty of Ericksonian metaphors: It’s like being driven around the countryside by your eccentric Aunt Betty, who after hours of wrong turns and harrowing near misses of both stationary and moving objects, she somehow manages to find her way back to your home just in time for dinner.
The desired effect is: early suggestion of delayed gratification, food references as rewards for patience, proposed childhood memories to trigger your own childhood memories substantiating suggested premises; and last effect is to refocus your mind on how your perception miraculously creates the world that you experience.
I mean, seriously, …Aunt Betty was just too erratic to drive anyone, including herself, but it’s strange how she always knew when it was time for dinner at our house. I’d call that Selective Craziness; and it worked for her.