Ladders Make Crummy Shovels - 3 Metaphors That Lead to a Lifetime of Happiness

Posted by tonyoverbay

Have you ever felt like you’re in a vicious game of tug-of-war with the struggles in your life? Afraid that if you don’t pull hard enough you’ll fall into the bottomless bit in front of you? What would happen if you dropped the rope in the tug-of-war with anxiety, depression, or fear? Or have you heard the metaphor about the person in the hole? The person is smart, capable, hard-working, but what if they have the wrong tool at the bottom of that hole, a shovel for example. You can be the smartest, most hard-working person in the world, and having a shovel in the bottom of a hole isn’t going to get you too far. Sometimes a good metaphor can go a long way in helping explain to others, or even better yet, to ourselves, the struggles we may have on a day-to-day basis.

In today’s episode, Tony shares Brian Pennie’s article “How to Avoid Psychological Traps - 3 Metaphors that Lead to a Lifetime of Happiness,” https://medium.com/swlh/avoid-psychological-traps-by-embracing-these-powerful-metaphors-3be3a87cc9f1

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

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[00:00:00] Ok, quick story time last week, it was last Friday, to be exact, I woke up and I just hopped out of bed, felt like a good morning. I had worked out the evening before I had taken a shower before I went to bed. So I woke up. I walked immediately into the bathroom. I wash my face. I got dressed and I jumped in my car. I was headed to my office. And to be fair, I get in really early and I typically start with clients somewhere around six or seven in the morning. So I try to get in around four, four, 30 that we can have time to write or record or create or catch up. And it has long been some of the best time of my day. It's nice and it's quiet and about halfway to my office and it's only fifteen minutes or so from my house. And then if you have a car, a newer car, but it will anticipate where I'm going to go on the little navigation system. So it often tells me, hey, you're 14 minutes from work, traffic's clear. Here's your anticipated arrival time. And so I just happened to glance down and notice that my anticipated arrival time, it says I will get to my office at two thirty two thirty in the morning and suddenly I could not make sense of the morning.

[00:01:00] Didn't I get up when my alarm went off like I normally do? And I had obviously looked at my phone because I was listening to an audio book and my headphones on my way out the door getting to my car. And so I bring up my alarm app at that time. And sure enough, there was an alarm set for three fifteen with a backup alarm set for three thirty, which honestly led to even more confusion. So long story that well, even longer. And by the way, that is one of my favorite lines, because as somebody who listens to people's stories for a living, the phrase long story short, when I'm often thinking, well, let's be honest, this story is going a little bit longer than that, and that is exactly what I'm doing. But so long story even made longer. I get to my office and I'm immediately met with am I starting to lose it mentally or what just happened? And I eventually came to just a little bit of acceptance, as in, well, that happened. That's pretty interesting. So where are we going on today's episode? Is it acceptance now? It's not it. I've done a lot unacceptance of saying will that happen? Or early risers versus night owls. It's not about that either, although that would be a good episode.

[00:01:59] I haven't done one on that in over three years. And there's actually a lot of fascinating data there. But this was simply just a story, the end and just isn't that interesting. And have you ever done something like that or. I'm I guess I'm just looking to have a shared experience with people that are listening to my podcast or share a laugh. But no, on today's episode, it's on a particular type of story that can be quite powerful. Today, we're going to talk about the power of the metaphor, because I ran into one last week in session and honestly, it was difficult not to then try and thread this metaphor into everything that I'm currently working with. And there are a lot of metaphors in the particular type of therapy. I love acceptance and commitment therapy, but for some reason I've been almost afraid to embrace the metaphor. So we'll talk about that. We're going to talk about some metaphors that that may really help. Is a matter of fact, we're going to talk about three metaphors that according to an article from Medium Dotcom by a writer, Brian Penning, PhD candidate is these are three metaphors that can lead to a lifetime of happiness. So that's pretty promising. Right. So we're going to cover that and so much more on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:03:21] Come on in, take a seat.

[00:03:28] All right, hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and sixty nine of the virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. A licensed marriage and family therapist and certified mind will have a coach and writer, speaker, husband, father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back, which is an online pornography recovery program that is helping people of all walks of life turn away from pornography as a coping mechanism, put it in the rearview mirror and all done in a strength based hold the shame, become the person that you always want it to be the way. So if you're interested, go to Pathbackrecovery.com and download. There's a little ebook there, another small incise e-book, but a short e-book that will describe five myths that people make often when they're trying to put things like pornography in the rearview mirror. So check that out at Pathbackrecovery.com and go to Tony Overbay Dotcom. Still, there's a free parenting course. Another round of the magnetic marriage course is coming up soon. So go to Tony over made. I come to find out more. So let's get to today's episode, today's topic. This is on three metaphors that lead to a lifetime of happiness by Brian Pinny. And I'm pretty sure that I've got the name correct, but it's Penny spelled P in in IHI. And honestly, I went into a deep dove on just wanting to give him proper attribution because this is from a medium dotcom article. But I know that a lot of people you can submit articles to places like Medium Dotcom, they'll cover them if they if they like the content.

[00:04:43] But it isn't that Brian writes for Medium. But if you go to Brian Penney and that's Brian P in ICOM, he's a he's a fascinating person. Just quickly on his about, he says, hi, my name's Brian Penny. I'm the I'm an author. I'm a speaker. I'm a PhD candidate, university lecturer and a life change strategist. And he says, my life used to be very different. However, on October 8th of 2013, I experienced my first day clean after fifteen years of chronic heroin addiction. So very fascinating person. But he wrote this article called How to Avoid Psychological Traps, which are three powerful metaphors to help you see more clearly. And so I mentioned in the introduction that in the therapy model that I love acceptance and commitment therapy. They use a lot of metaphors and I have stayed away from using metaphors. And it's one of those things where I wasn't exactly sure. So I had to do a little bit of exploration today and why. And I did an episode on my podcast. It was quite a while ago where I talked about the power of story and how important or powerful a story can be. But that I think as a couples therapist and we're talking a thousand couples down down the road later where I watch, often people use a story almost in a weaponized way.

[00:05:52] Again, I love stories that tell stories all the time. I hear stories that's that's part of, again, how I make my living. So I was trying to actually think of a good example. So here's one that is very real. It's one that comes up in couples therapy. So if you are a couple that I have met with and you think, oh, my gosh, she's talking about us, I'm really not. That's how common the story is. It's very common. So in most every kind of scratch that, I'm going to say pretty much every couple's relationship I work with, there is a higher desire partner and a lower desire partner when it comes to physical intimacy. And listen to the way I'm phrasing that when it comes to physical intimacy, a higher desire, lower desire. Sometimes I realize that I try to allude to things as if my podcast is being piped into Mrs. Johnson's third grade class. So let's just be honest here. I'm talking about sex and couples. And so typically I find that one of the spouses would like to have sex more often than the other. And stereotypically, by a pretty wide margin, the man typically wants to have more sex than the woman. So here's the way a story can be used in this situation. And I don't want to sound dramatic, but almost weaponized to a point. So the example will be given that the couple will be outside working in the yard or they will be in bed at the end of the day or they'll be on a road trip.

[00:06:59] And the wife in the situation, the lower desire partner, will ask the husband if they will do something for them. Will they stop at the next rest stop because the wife wants to go to the bathroom or stretch your legs or get a drink or if they're working in the yard and the wife is thirsty, will the husband run in and get her a drink of water? Or if they're laying in bed and the wife forgot to check the back door to see if it's locked, would the husband mind going downstairs to check those scenarios? He may not really be interested in doing these things, but he says he's happy, too. And then when he then asks for sex, at the end of the day, the wife might respond that she is too tired or she's felt like she's been pawed all day by little kids. So she's just a little bit physically overwhelmed. And could she get a rain check? So the husband in the scenario will tell the story, oftentimes staying in the hypothetical, but saying that he would be more willing to get that he's more than willing to get the glass of water or check the door locks or stop at the next rest stop, even if he doesn't want to. So then why wouldn't his wife want to have sex with him even if she doesn't want to? So to the point where then she's off saying, OK, you're comparing apples to oranges or those kind of things.

[00:08:02] And trust me, I hear him. I understand where he's going, but I watch the wife in the scenario typically go pretty flat with her affect your mood. She may turn away from him. She may shut down. All of a sudden she's not leaning and she's not saying tell me more. So that's where I see stories tend to go sort of south, yes. The intentions are not there to hurt their spouse. My pillar, No. One of my four pillars of a connected conversation. But the husband in the scenario doesn't quite know how. To get his point across that he would really love or desire more physical intimacy or he's he's tried simply stating that, but he feels like that hasn't gone so well. So the story is often used to try and tell a partner that they don't understand that they are the ones doing it wrong like my buddy Preston Pugmier says they're often doing that, telling that story with their elbow kind of bump in their partner, saying, listen, like this is something that you need to do. This is something you need to do differently. And so now what is the answer to this scenario? Because I truly do hear it so, so often. I think that is going to have to be a separate episode because there is a lot to unpack there.

[00:09:04] But my point being in this type of story, if the wife is being told that she isn't doing what her husband would like him to do, and then by telling that in story form, well, now she's got to do what he's asking. And again, the genders can be completely switched. The scenarios can be a husband not feeling appreciated for being at work so much or a wife might not feel appreciated if she stays at home with the kids or if she is the more empathetic parent. But what I hope that you can get from these examples are when stories are used a bit more in a again, not trying to make a dramatic use of the word, but any more manipulative fashion. And again, bless the storyteller's heart in this scenario, because ultimately it boils down to an attachment issue to someone not feeling heard or like they don't really know how to be heard. So they hope they try to tell a story to their spouse to hear them or to understand them. But I think I watch that in sessions where someone's trying to find a creative way to say, hey, I think you're wrong. And so I know that that's not what stories are all about. But in acceptance and commitment therapy, there are a lot of metaphors. And I know I can understand why, because I find myself using bits and pieces of them. But over this past week, I have have a couple of people that I'm working with on a pretty specific issue.

[00:10:12] And I've been looking at how to implement acceptance and commitment therapy into their treatment. And in particular, it's around some symptoms of OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, because acceptance and commitment therapy is is a relative new kid on the block on how you treat OCD with acceptance and commitment therapy. But there's a lot of cool data that talks about how to do that and within each session individually. And so in one of the sessions and some of the notes that I had by a very, very well known ACT researcher, Michael ToHegg, who I actually have reached out to, and he's he's agreed to come on the podcast I'm kind of fascinated by. But in this particular data that he's sharing about how to deal with acting OCD, they have a very powerful metaphor of basically called the it's the metaphor of the person in the hole. So we're going to get to that one in a minute. But back to the Bryant Pene article. So he says that he quotes a few people here that are talking about metaphors. Robert Frost, which is a famed author, he says, unless you're educated in a metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world. And in John F. Kennedy speech about the space race, he announced that America has tossed its cap over the wall of space and Brian says JFK used this metaphor as a declaration for taking charge of the race.

[00:11:22] It's a beautiful turn of phrase that epitomizes the power of metaphors. But metaphors can also have many purposes. As Bryan points out, they can be used to enhance writing, make persuasive arguments, motivate people. They can serve as symbols, or they can help you memorize information or even explain abstract concepts such as life and love and success. And he gives a couple of examples of that. Pablo Picasso said, Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life or Shakespeare. This is a famous one. All the world is a stage and all the men and women are merely players. Or one of Warren Buffett's famous metaphors, as he says, predicting rain doesn't count, but building arks does. So I think when you hear those metaphors, you get a sense of what that person really believes, maybe what they stand for. So at its core, then, these metaphors are figures of speech that are used to compare two completely unrelated things. And because of that, they can be very powerful and explaining very abstract concepts, especially in psychology, such as things like anxiety or resistance or suffering or that sort of thing. So based on Bryan's PhD research and his work with acceptance and commitment therapy, he listed three very powerful metaphors that will help people avoid psychological traps. Now, one of the first ones is one that I have mentioned before, and it's one that I will go back to often, which is talking the metaphor is fighting with an anxiety monster.

[00:12:43] So here's how this one goes. If you ever struggle with anxiety, he says, I'm guessing you've tried to fight back. However, fighting back only tends to create more anxiety. So what do you do? A great metaphor to explain. This involves a tug of war with an anxiety monster. So you are holding one end of the rope and the monster has the other. And in between of you lies a bottomless pit. So not surprisingly, you pull as hard as you can, but that monster is pulling very strong, too, and that's bringing you closer and closer to the pit and you feel like you have no way of winning. So what do you do when you're fighting this anxiety monster, when you've got this tug of war against this anxiety monster and there's this bottomless pit between the two of you, you simply drop the rope. So, yeah, the monster is still there, but you're no longer in a struggle with him. And so in this metaphor, it's the same anxiety that when you drop the struggle, you steal its power. So that's where I was going a little bit earlier, making the joke about it. Today's episode about acceptance. And when you drop the rope of the tug of war with fill in the blank, oftentimes we feel like, well, then I'm just resigned myself to a life of feeling very anxious.

[00:13:47] But I believe it's quite the opposite. Once you drop the rope of the tug of war, that's when you can really start looking for you can start looking for change because looking for treatment, you can start looking for something else that may help because we're so consumed or obsessed with that that tug of war of fighting against this anxiety monster that that we're often just perpetuating the same patterns are doing the same things. Which leads to my the second metaphor that Brian mentions on here, and this is the metaphor that I ran into in this acceptance and commitment therapy and OCD treatment plan that I've been using a little bit more of the last week or two. It's called The Person in a Whole Metaphor. And I'm going to give you the very short version that Brian has in this article. And I'm going to take you over to the a little bit of a longer version. I want to comment on that a bit. So the person the whole metaphor, he says many people resist change. They might genuinely want to change, especially if they're struggling, but often they persist in the very behavior that caused their problems in the first place. So he says a person in a whole metaphor describes the best. A person aimlessly wanders into a field full of holes, disoriented by past experiences. They fall into a big one and the sides are steep and they can't get out.

[00:14:57] But they were lucky. They had a toolbox with them and without thinking, they take out a shovel and they try to dig themselves out. And so this obviously doesn't work. So they start digging with greater intensity. But this just leaves them deeper in the hole and feeling dejected. They give up and suddenly, like a blessing from the skies. A person walks by with a ladder and they throw it into the hole. So finally, some luck, but what do they do? They pick up the ladder and they try to use the ladder to dig themselves out of the hole. So he says maybe it's the people pleaser who keeps saying, yes, it kind have been there, or a workaholic who continues to work 70 hours per week or a person with social anxiety who refuses to leave the house. So for individuals who are stuck in these situations, this metaphor can help them to better understand their problems and hopefully help them change their ways. OK, so let me do a take two now on that same metaphor. So I'm going to turn to this document by Michael ToHague. And this is from a an act and OCD treatment plan. And it's that same person in a hole metaphor, but it goes a little bit deeper. And so I want to I want to dig a little bit more into this one. So he says imagine that you're placed in a field wearing a blindfold and you're given a little bag of tools and you're told that your job is to run around blindfolded and live your life.

[00:16:09] So you start running around and sooner or later you fall into this big hole. Now, one tendency you might have would be to try and figure out how you got in the hole, exactly what path you followed. And you might tell yourself, I went to the left that went over a little hill and then I fell in, etc. And in one sense, that might be true, that you are in the hole because you walked exactly that way. However, knowing that is not the solution to knowing how to get out of the hole. And furthermore, if you had not done exactly that and you'd gone somewhere else instead in this particular metaphor, you might have fallen into another hole anyway, because unbeknownst to you in this field, there are countless widely spaced fairly deep holes. So he says, anyway, you're in this hole blindfolded. And probably what you would do in such a predicament is take that bag of tools you were given and try to get out of the hole. Now, just suppose that the tool you've been given as a shovel, so you dutifully start digging or pretty soon you notice that you are not out of the hole. So what do you do? You try digging faster or with bigger shovelfuls or with a different style, more different and better. More different and better.

[00:17:09] But all of that makes no difference because digging is not the way out of the hole. It only makes the hole bigger. And pretty soon this hole is huge. It has multiple rooms and halls and caverns and it's more and more elaborate. So maybe you stop for a while and try to put up with it and that doesn't work. And you're still in this hole. And in this particular example, Michael says this is what this is like. What has happened with your anxiety? That anxiety can get bigger and bigger and it's become the central focus of your life. And, you know, all this hasn't worked. But he says what he's saying is that it can't work. He said you absolutely can't dig your way out of the hole, that that would feel hopeless. That's not to say there's no way out of the hole, but within the system in which you have been working, no matter how much motivation you have or how hard you dig, that isn't the way out. And he says this isn't a trick. There's no fooling. And he says, you know, that sense you have when you're stuck and that you came here to help fix it. He says, well, you're stuck. And this is what I think is so powerful about this metaphor that he said that in the system which you're working, there isn't a way out. So the system, the way you're doing it right now and he said things that you've been taught to do aren't working, although they may work perfectly well somewhere else.

[00:18:19] This is where I watched a little bit of a light bulb moment come on for some of my clients. So the problem isn't and the tools it's in the situation in which you find yourself using them, and so what's significant about that is you can have someone is it is an extremely hard worker and that tool of hard work, that that quality is a wonderful quality. But you can see how that could be even more frustrating because hard work with a shovel in the bottom of a hole is just going to allow you to dig a deeper and more elaborate cavernous hole so that shovel plus hard work is not going to get you out of that hole. And so I thought about this. And so I work a lot with people that have addictive behaviors, compulsive behaviors, impulsive behaviors. So take that one of when I work with people that are struggling to put pornography behind them, that turn to pornography as a coping mechanism, because I've done plenty of episodes on that. There isn't an actual diagnosis of pornography addiction, that it's more of an impulse control issue or a compulsive sexual behavior issue. And the difference between compulsive behavior and impulsive behavior is compulsive, is premeditated, impulsive is not. It's In the moment, you can even have people that get the compulsive nature of a problem down and feel like they're in a really good place.

[00:19:31] But then because of some triggers, there's a great acronym, hault, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Then they may fall prey to the impulse and then turn back to this this problem that they've struggled with in the past or something that they want to do no longer go again back to somebody turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. So a lot of times people in that scenario that I'm working with are very religious people and they really want to be the best people that they can be. And so they find themselves. And I feel like the shovel in their lives is there wanting to be even more more righteous. You know, again, like Michael Tohig says, it's bigger. It's better, it's more so they may pray more, read their scriptures more, and then they find themselves not really addressing the problem of what I say is filling these voids in their lives. What are why are they turning to pornography as a coping mechanism? And I feel like these voices I've identified as they might not feel connected in their parenting or in their marriage or their health or their faith or their career. And so they're they're using the wrong tool. So they're using a tool that is a wonderful tool. It's great to to dig more into your spirituality or to feel like you are truly in in tune with God and that you're living the life based on the values and gifts and talents and abilities and all of these things that you've been given.

[00:20:49] That's a wonderful thing. But doubling and tripling and quadrupling down on that religiosity, is that the answer? Is that the right tool to get you out of this hole or is that a shovel? Is that an absolutely wonderful tool, but not the correct one for getting out of this hole? Now, I feel that's the case because this is where I feel like people then feel like they need to to feel worse. They need to beat themselves up. They need to guilt themselves, shame themselves. They need to go down that path. But that's the path they've been going down for. Who knows how long that has kept them in the place that they're at right now. So that's the shovel in their lives. So the harder they dig, the worse they try to make themselves feel about the behavior that they're doing. If that was the solution, they'd already be out of the hole. So they need a different tool. And that's why I love this this metaphor. I go back here and then to this example, I said, so the problem is not in the tools, it's in the situation where you find yourself using them. So he says that you may go to the therapist wanting a gold plated steam shovel and he says, I can't give it to you. And even if I could, I wouldn't, because that's not going to solve your problem.

[00:21:52] It would only make things worse. He said that if a client asked for a way out of the hole, you respond with something like your job right now is not to try to figure out how to get out of that hole. That's what you've been trying to do all along. Your job is to accept that you are in that hole and in the position you're in right now. Even if you were given another thing to do, probably wouldn't work, because the problem is not the tool. It's the agenda. It's the digging. If you were given a ladder right now and this is my favorite part of this and alluded to it in that short version of the metaphor, but he said if you were given a ladder right now, it wouldn't do any good. You're only trying to dig with it. And ladders make terrible shovels. So if you need to dig, you've already got the perfectly good tool already back of this turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. If shame, if making yourself feel like a horrible piece of garbage was the right tool, you'd already be out of the hole. We all would. I mean, and that's where I always say when I wrote my book, I worked with fifteen, sixteen hundred individuals now on compulsive sexual behaviors, impulse control disorders, turning away from pornography as a coping mechanism. And I am 0 for sixteen hundred and shame being a component of recovery.

[00:22:50] So that's not the right tool. The problem is not the tool, it's the agenda. Again, ladders make terrible shovel. So if you need to dig, you've already got the tool to do so and you can't really do anything else until you let go of the shovel and you let go of digging is the agenda. You got to make room for something else in your hands. And that is a difficult and very bold and scary thing to do, because the shovel in our lives often appear to be the only tool that we have. So sometimes we feel like if we are going to let go of the shovel that then we are doomed to stay in the hole forever. And the reality is, I can't reassure you of that. But nothing I say right now would actually help ease the difficulty of what? I'm still talking to my client right now of what the the situation is that they're in or what has brought them there. But Michael says in this analogy or this metaphor, he says your best ally is your own pain. And the knowledge that that has not worked using that shovel in the bottom of that hole has not worked. And haven't you already suffered enough? Are you ready to give up the shovel and do something else? So that is what I find absolutely amazing about that metaphor in particular. So one more metaphor. Brian mentions one called First and Second Dart, and I was not familiar with this one, and I really do like this one.

[00:23:59] I think it's starting to go around the concept of primary and secondary emotions with a little bit more here. So he says life is full of challenges and most of which we have no control over. So this might sound disheartening, but realizing this is a source of strength. Why? Because it's not the challenge itself, but it's our reaction to it that causes most of our problems. And this we can't control we can control our reaction. So he said this concept is best explained by a Buddhist metaphor based on first and second parts. So first start, first starts are inescapable. Pains that life throws at us might be like emotional pain, like a tough breakup, a lost opportunity, or the death of a loved one. Or it might be physical pain, like a sports injury or putting your hand in a hot stove. He says these unavoidable pains are the essence of human existence. And if you live and love some of these will fall on your doorstep. I'll tell you, my wife and I are going out on a run on Saturday and I rolled my ankle so bad I haven't rolled my ankle in a while and I have horrible ankles. That's been one of my biggest problems. The trail runner is just sprained ankles constantly and we go out there. Haven't rolled on a long time.

[00:24:59] I rolled it so bad that I failed. I got down to the ground. I was really angry and upset and frustrated and we had to walk back and it was so frustrating. So but I love how he's saying that, that if we are going to live our lives, then we're going to run into these these first starts and that's going to be OK. So he says in reality, however, most of our problems are not caused by first darts. They're caused by how we respond to them. Second darts are the darts we throw at ourselves. So these are our own reactions to first starts and this is the source of much of our suffering. So he says, consider this example. You stub your toe on your child's toy. That's the first dart. It's just inevitable it's going to happen. The second dart, though, anger follows and it follows immediately. And he throws out here, why the heck did you leave that there for and for second darts, Second darts frequently trigger more second darts, because now you feel guilty about your anger and miserable about your guilt. So now you're wrapped up in your misery and then what do you do? Sometimes you take it out on your spouse. So these second reactions are so much more common than you think you know, he says. How many times have you brought them morning traffic into work? How many times have you brought work problems home for dinner? This is the essence of suffering secondary reactions to painful events, which are often more destructive than the original experience.

[00:26:10] So what do you do? Instead of resisting first darts, you should accept them completely if you do have a tough break up or you lose out on a great opportunity, he says. Accept that and move on because it's our resistance the pain it causes are suffering. And I know I know Brian would say this. I know any any therapist would say, I know it's not just that easy. I'll tell you if I go back to this twisting or rolling my ankle on Saturday example, my that was the first dart. I mean, it's it happens. It's life. I could try to figure out why or blame things on it. There's a little rise in the road, but I ran there plenty of times. But that was my first dart. My second part was I got really, really angry. I got really frustrated. And I was I was sitting on the ground. I kind of think I went to hit the ground. I was like, man, you know, because I immediately went to this. That's going to take forever. I'm not going to run for a while, 51 years old. But if I don't recover as fast, you know, I just thought all these things and I was very frustrated and and I realized that I did almost start getting into the second darts, beat myself up and said I had to just have some acceptance.

[00:27:11] And so we walked home and and I was able to pedal around a little bit on the peloton bike and it was fine and and it hurt a little bit the last later that day, a little bit yesterday. Feeling a little bit more today, but just more of that acceptance, because I don't want that I don't want to throw that second dart at myself or those around me. I don't want to go into victim mode or pity party. It's just acceptance. So those things happen and we'll kind of roll with the punches. We'll go from there. So not resisting those first darts, those things are going to happen, but being aware of the second starts and and how much more destructive those can be. So the take away message of these three metaphors metaphors have the power to persuade the masses, motivate armies and help writers to create beautiful prose. Bryan says they can also help people understand abstract concepts. And as a result, we can often then avoid these psychological pitfalls and psychological traps that we often fall into. So the next time, here's the summary, right? The next time you find yourself fighting with life, then drop the rope of the tug of war with whatever the the event is, the anxiety monster, the depression monster, the whatever it is, just drop the rope with the tug of war, you can drop the rope with a tug of war with your own brain fighting against yourself.

[00:28:18] And next time you find yourself digging to get out of your hole, then think, OK, I'm literally digging in this hole, trying to get out of it. So I need to look at. Something different, because I might be the world's most determined digger, I might be the my shoulders may be broad and strong, which might help me to dig even faster and bigger shovelfuls of dirt. But is that the wrong thing for this particular situation? And the next time you find yourself resisting first darts, just accept them. One of the greatest diffusion techniques you can say to yourself is just, well, that happened. And it can feel you can feel embarrassed, you can feel ashamed. You can feel all those things that are kind of but but you can acknowledge those feelings, but you don't have to react to them. You know, you can thank them for being there. They've all served maybe a purpose in the past, but just accept those first thoughts completely. So I hope that you had a little bit of a different view on the idea of metaphors and maybe you'll start looking for some more of those metaphors that might help you in your own life now. Again, I will always throughout the warning. We're not trying to weaponize metaphors and telling someone else that they need to do this, as my buddy Preston took my office as a hobby. And listen to this with your elbow listening one to elbow your spouse and say, yeah, I think you need to listen to that one in particular.

[00:29:27] So take a look at what what you can do to help put yourself in a better situation. And then, sure, you can share your hey, I feel like this metaphor really spoke to me, but that doesn't mean that it's going to necessarily speak to those around you. But there are plenty of metaphors in the world of acceptance and commitment therapy. As a matter of fact, I think there's entire books that are about metaphor and act. So don't be surprised if I might share another one from time to time or if you have particular metaphors that have worked for you in your life. I'd love to hear them shoot me an email at contact@tonyoverbay.com. OK, have an amazing week. I'm going to have a bonus episode a little bit later on this week because I've just got a lot of stuff I really want to get out. And if you have additional questions, just head over to TonyOverbay.com or email me at contact@tonyoverbay.com. And taking us out per usual is the wonderful, talented Aurora Florence with her song. It's wonderful. So we'll look at this if anybody's even still listening. Betterhelp.com/virtual couch. Ten percent off your first month. Go, go find some help. I could do a much better ad than that, but if you listen to me for a while, you know, betterhelp.com betterhelp.com/virtual couch. Let's get back to the song I wrote for us. It's wonderful.

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