Drawing a picture of “what it’s like at work” gives people an opportunity to express negative emotions with humor. When I facilitate this kind of exercise, everyone shares their “metaphor map” in a democratic process. Some are positive but many people need to process stress, anxiety and frustration. It is humor that makes this work. When we can laugh at ourselves and each other, we find that negative perceptions ARE surmountable if we can talk about them. Emotions that cannot be discussed cannot be healed. This map was drawn by a guy who was new to a senior management position at a “troubled” facility of a national organization. He explained, “This is what remains of me. This job has ripped out my heart and guts. The people here are chewing away my legs and feet. I hold up my arm for help and the guys above me snap it off.” This drawing was not so much a message to the group – although it made a strong impact – but it was a catharsis for the man who drew it. Many people say the Metaphor Map process is cathartic. He got lots of attention, genuine laughter at this graphics, and validation. My guess is that this picture caused him to ask himself, “Am I really going to let this happen to me?” After the catharsis of admitting he hit bottom and the validation that everyone could relate to the feeling, there was no where to go but up.
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