Insights – 5 min read

Spiral into control

July 11, 2018
By Metaphorical Therapy

One metaphor to rule them all

The Unifying Spiral is precisely what it sounds like. It is the powerful all-embracing visual metaphor that unites all Metaphorical Therapy’s Keystone Principles.  The centre of the spiral is safe. The outside dangerous.  Risk in the centre is low. Risk on the outside is high. In between the centre and the periphery are many levels of boundaries. Boundaries are low in the centre and grow higher as you progress the further from the safety of the centre.  The purpose of your boundaries is to separate you and your problems from those of your neighbours. They also protect you from the danger of a needy neighbour dumping their problems on you.  A lot of emotional gold is invested in relationships located in the middle of your Spiral. Relatively little emotion is invested in higher risk relationships sensibly located on the on the riskier perimeter. The position of an individual on your spiral is obviously commensurate with the degree of trust you are prepared to place in them. Those in whom you trust are granted access to the centre of your spiral. Less known and possibly less trustworthy individuals are best kept a healthy emotional distance out on the fringes of your emotional life where they do not pose a threat. Your Spiral even reminds you constantly of good old “stranger danger” by reflecting an element of time. Granting relative strangers direct immediate entry to the centre of your spiral is immature and downright dangerous. Everyone has to earn their way in by demonstrating that they are trustworthy. And that takes time. The shortest reasonable time that one should allow to pass before considering allowing a person in a new relationship to begin to approach the centre of one’s Spiral is around eighteen months. The shorter the time the greater the risk!

Behold! It moves!

The Universal Spiral is a dynamic metaphor. It infers movement. And this is intended. It can be perceived as both flat and in three dimensions like a spring. Imagine the Spiral as always spinning, morphing and changing according to your circumstances. This is exactly as it should be because this is precisely what happens in real-life and in in the real world. The implied flow of the Spiral accommodates this dynamic ever-changing process. As people around you change, so you change to accommodate them. The Spiral empowers you to constantly audit relationships and to adjust the position of individuals on your metaphorical spiral accordingly.  As we have said, you can visualise the Unifying Spiral is a three-dimensional spinning vortex. Seen thus; it becomes a powerful tool to imagine, understand, organise and evaluate your feelings and your thinking. When appropriately employed the Spiral will reflect changes in your relationships and help you orientate yourself appropriately to minimise emotional risk and danger. It will guide you in coping with difficult, damaging and dangerous people. Remember those people may be a part of your family. Metaphorical Therapy and the Universal Spiral will help you understand that blood is not always thicker than water. Relatives do not get a free pass to the centre of safe centre Spiral where you are most vulnerable. It has been said that family is an hereditary disease. While this may seem cynical the sad fact is that it often embodies a grain of unfortunate and unhappy truth. By using the Spiral, you can be forewarned. And as the venerable saying goes: forewarned is forearmed.

A management tool for life

Once you are adept at using the Spiral you will find yourself returning to it time and time again because, in a word; it makes life easier. Issues are easier to understand and articulate and that makes them much easier to manage. The Spiral will also make it easier for you to identify and evict dangerous potentially hurtful people from the centre of your emotional life and, what is more, to understand and support those who are grieving by being able to visualise where they are on their personal journey from the trauma of loss to the emotional resolution that comes with time and figurative distance gained onboard the metaphorical rollercoaster ride of grief.

The central organising principle of the Metaphorical Therapy System

It provides a unifying visual language – a kind of metaphorical shorthand. The Spiral is revisited and referred to throughout all five of Metaphorical Therapy’s Keystone modules and it relates to your keystone principles of self-preservation, boundaries, self-worth and processing emotions in a unique and specific way. Furthermore, it is easy to remember and it has proven itself over time to be an immeasurably practical and pragmatic therapeutic tool. Think of your Spiral as a combination of both the chart and the compass that help you navigate away from the dark waters of mental illness and towards calm that comes with psychological resilience, robustness, health and wellbeing.

The Unifying Spiral will make you a better friend, mentor, parent and life partner

In short: The Unifying Spiral will help you visualise, intuitively understand and interrogate the dynamics and potential consequences of almost any given situation or set of circumstances. In time, you will find that its use becomes intuitive. Thinking in terms of the Spiral will become second nature. Your personal Spiral will make you more empathetic; not only to others but more importantly to yourself. It will help you better understand the process of grief and loss. It will clearly illustrate that grief is a journey that we must all undertake at some time. A journey that, while sometimes harrowing, ends in peace, acceptance and the ability to finally let go, not of the memories but of the pain that so often accompanies them. Your Spiral is there to help you understand and deal with the loss of precious emotional gold that you may have invested in a given relationship over time. Understanding The Unifying Spiral will make you a better friend, mentor, parent and life partner.

About the author

Metaphorical Therapy

Metaphorical Therapy is an innovative new way to deliver essential psychological education, support psychological wellness, and prevent mental illness.


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