It’s as if you’re the king of a vast empire, and in a far-flung border province there’s a famine or a flood that’s causing hardship. The people try to deal with it on their own, but eventually they send a messenger to the king to plead for help. And the king… shoots the messenger.

Times are still hard in the faraway province, so eventually they send a tougher, harder to kill messenger who can give the king’s guard a bit more trouble. He breaks into the throne room, but the guards cut him down before he can deliver the message.

This goes on for some time, with ever tougher messengers being sent in ever greater numbers, and the king just refusing to listen and shooting the messengers at increasing cost. Eventually, the province is so desperate that they raise an army and revolt. And they march on the capital and besiege the palace, sending out agitators to get the rest of the empire to join the revolt. And what happens next… well, it’s a little late by that point, and the king is probably wishing he’d listened to the very first messenger, but if he’s smart he will finally agree to listen to the message, and make whatever changes need to be made to put things right for the stricken province.


If you’re a trainer, feel free to use this story – I’ve found it applicable to the idea of listening to your body and treating health symptoms as messages, as opposed to suppressing them with painkillers etc, but you may find other uses.

As far as I can recall (it was about 15 years ago) this was inspired by a similar story in a talk that John Grinder gave.

Symptoms as messengers

2 thoughts on “Symptoms as messengers

  • Great story. As a homeopath this is exactly the philosophy and NLP especialy metamodelling and chunking have helped to “decipher” this message for me in the psst.

    Further approach ideas examples????


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