Friday, 27 November 2015

Over the hill

As I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday I came across the above quote by Ellen DeGeneres.

You know me - I love language and I love metaphor. Even more than that - I love exploring how the language and metaphors we use in our lives impact how we're feeling and behaving. 

Always remembering the important next step is to answer "so what?" - ie what does our exploration of our language tell us, and as a result, what changes can we make to improve the current situation.

Over the hill is an interesting phrase - mainly because it's become connected with age

Ellen is right - metaphorically it makes no sense, and usually such sayings make metaphorical, if not literal, sense. In the context of landscapes for example - we can't see the wood for the trees, we've burnt our bridges, or need to build them, have turned a corner, or are facing an uphill struggle, or are facing rough weather etc. That is, it's easy from the description to understand what is meant. 

The whole premise of the Landscaping Your Life processes is the ability to use the richness of a metaphor, that we're using to describe the current situation, to find a solution that moves us to the desired situation. 

I wonder why "over the hill" came to be synonymous with its opposite? 

The problem of course is its easy to buy into the meaning of a saying, and then make it a reality. That is we may not feel "doddering" but if we use "over the hill" too much, we might just start feeling that way!! 

For anyone buying into the conventional meaning of "being over the hill" therefore, please consider the following perspectives (you only need to find one perspective that shifts your internal way of relating to the saying). 
  • Over the hill, and ready for the mountain 
  • Over the hill, and can now see what's ahead
  • Over the hill, having seen the panorama from the top, and have now determined the direction of travel 
  • Over the hill, with the hardest bit behind you
  • Over the hill, with sight of the next hill
  • Over the hill, and now headed for the ocean
  • Over the hill, viewed from a hot air balloon
  • Over the hill, viewed by an eagle
  • Over the hill, viewed by a cloud
  • Over the hill and far away
Or what about:
  • Over the mountain: In a language some where on Earth they won't have a word for hill only a word for mountain - with a hill being described as a small mountain (apparently Brazilian Portuguese doesn't have a word for wood only forest. I'm assuming therefore that the same must be true for hill somewhere). Which means you're really just "over the mountain".
  • Being on top of the world: That is you're now on the way down from the top of the mountain having achieved something many others never will - with lessons learnt to share with others that and you take with you to your next mountain or adventure. 
Of course another suggestion would be to mix your metaphor or saying (absurdity is such a great way of shifting stuck states). So what about:
  • Making hills out of molehills
  • Making mountains out of hills
  • Under the hill
  • On top of the hill
  • Through the hill
  • Over the mountain 
  • Over the molehill 
  • Burning hills
  • Can't see the mountain for the hill
  • Stuck in a hill
  • Head in the hill
  • Up a creek without a hill
I'd love to hear your thoughts on other ways this metaphorical saying could be viewed more positively rather than negatively.

For more on Landscaping Your Life and how to use it to get back on track in your life please see the index of blogs.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life
Inspiring Change Inside and Out

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