Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fire as Metaphor

(This blog was originally posted on January 31, 2017)

The element of fire is also an effective metaphor in hypnotherapy. For many of us, fire represents passion in an emotion: love, anger, hate, jealousy. It can also symbolize dedication, enthusiasm, excitement, desire: “There is/I’ve got a fire in my belly.” When an event or interaction triggers an emotional reaction, this response may flare intensely for a little while until enough time has passed to temper that initial interest. Until that happens, it can feel like a battle is going on in our mind and heart to handle the sudden overload of feelings, perceptions and reactions to control our behavior. Sometimes we win that battle. Sometimes we do not.
Like fire, emotions can be and feel very powerful to the point where we feel or literally become overwhelmed by their heat and force. A tiny spark can smolder for hours, days or even years before erupting into a conflagration. Similarly, perception of a thoughtless word or action can dig into the subconscious mind and trigger an inexplicably hostile response (parataxic distortion) that is more a reaction to a previous interaction than the current one. Nonetheless, to stay consistent with the fire metaphor, once this metaphoric match is struck the verbal and emotional explosion can feel overwhelming to all parties involved.
I tap into metaphors for all four elements—water, air, earth and fire—to inspire and encourage my clients’ desire to change an unwanted behavior while simultaneously reinforcing their strategies to control previous automatic responses to behavioral/emotional triggers. Because the element of fire can be so volatile, it is useful to reference the power and stability of earth and the cool, reflective characteristics of water to reframe an emotional reaction or response. Similarly, when a client needs extra motivation to change that unwanted behavior once and for all, the energy of fire is ideal to re-ignite the person’s dedication to achieving that goal.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy®, please visit
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