Metaphors : Coaching with “right brain” modalities

The Dream by Picasso

Picasso's The Dream at auction in 1997

Any heuristic that uses images/metaphors for self-understanding and awareness constitute a “right brain” modality. So all these modalities share a common language: the language of metaphors, with dreams as the paradigm for this language.

Coaching dialogue

During the coaching dialogue,  language , which is mostly “left-brain” is used to give an account of an experience with any of these modalities. A lot is lost in this rendering, but step by step, bit by bit, with the help of the coach, one can get an understanding of oneself,  discover one’s basic needs, true dreams and vision, and share with the coach what she found in the remote recesses of the mind or even on the surface, without loosing too much of the evocative power of the experience.

Right Brain + Left Brain= Whole Brain

It is important to note, though, that “left-brain”/ “right brain”  as such, are only metaphors  (a synonym of heuristics in this context) that sprung from creativity experts, influenced by neuroscience theory on brain dominance. However, this distinction is an apt metaphor for evoking the duality existing between two antagonistic modes of expression which Pascal , a creator extraodinaire, already alluded to, in the 17th century. None is superior to the other: they each have their role and cross-fertilize each other when harmonized. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to know which one came first during the creativity process?  Creativity experts contend that “right brain” should come first, in order to by-pass “the critic” (another metaphor), who comes handy only after, for validation of discoveries, inventions and intuitions.

I also find that this metaphor is useful for practical reasons. Since Freud and Jung built their theories of dreams, way before Dr Sperry‘s discoveries on brain dominance in the early 80’s, they are full of stuff, though fascinating, that are not immediately usable or that are even confusing for 21 century folks. Also, the risk with these two very charismatic pioneers is to want to become a Freudian or a Jungian, and that can take a very long time. Practice of whatever “right brain” modality, not psychoanalytical theory is what makes these modalities so useful and fun in coaching, for personal discovery and life-enhancement . The creativity experts, often unacknowledged or even discredited by scientists (a metaphor), have permitted to simplify the discourse of  self-discovery, as opposed to psychoanalysis, and make great heuristics, available to the general public. I found that the right/left brain metaphor and later creativity experts’ elaborations were sufficient to start with, to benefit from these modalities, as theory is concerned. One can always augment her scientific knowledge but beware of missing out on great heuristics by excess of scientism.

Of course, oversimplification is always the culprit with this type of work, that’s why it is important to practice first with an experienced coach. Don’t play the Sorcerer’s apprentice. See where safe practice takes you.  It often happens that we discover, at the core,  the poet/the artist/ the intuitive/the wise one that has always been there waiting to be given a voice. “This intuitive” is essential for our self-understanding and awareness, so learning the language of dreams, the forgotten language as Fromm has it, as any other foreign language, is key.

Happy heuristics

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