I am the foraged mushrooms. A friend of mine described his recent state of mind with these words. This wonderful image describes one element of himself, one ingredient of a gourmet dish. He could have told me hours of stories about his last few weeks and it would not have provided as much information as those five words.

Photo: Pixabay

We get caught in stories and details. Unnecessary details. An inconsequential moment can spoil my day if I allow my brain to spin it out of control.

I am the foraged mushrooms. I am the raw, heavy cream. And, I am the minced garlic that goes into the slop that sits on the fancy steak.

Layers and layers of meaning in those metaphors. One layer is that they are all ingredients of a gourmet meal. The deeper layers are personal and less obvious. The interpretations of the metaphors are keys directing ourselves forward.

In high stakes performance situations, we can get caught in story.

This is all or nothing.

Why are they looking at me like I have no business on this stage?

I’ve crumbled so many times at moments like this.

What will people think of me if I fail?

This feels like one person against an army.

Without training our minds, those thoughts can unravel us. They can prevent others from seeing our true potential. They can strip the enjoyment from our favorite things in the world. And they can keep us from our goals.

So we train, in order to quiet the stories that sabotage us and replace them with more helpful messages. Or even complete stillness. The irony is that to find stillness, we need to wander through the clutter of our brain and its messy thought habits. We need to instill order so that when an unhelpful story arrives, it’s not a five foot high stack of 30 year old newspapers. It’s a little speck of dust, easily removed.

Photo by Digital Buggu

Metaphors like “I am the foraged mushrooms” can help us access stories and begin to take leadership in shaping them.

Our metaphors for ourselves will change day to day, as will what they reveal about us. Multiple metaphors can even be true at the same time. “I am the spacewalking astronaut” may describe me on the same day as “I am the undiscovered gigantic emerald“. The next day may be more of a “I am the Olympic big air skier” day.

It’s all good as long as we harness it. Create the metaphor. Reflect as deeply as possible on it (often best when facilitated by a coach). Then apply the learnings.

How are you feeling today? Foraged mushroom? Over ripe mango? Tasty cherry scone?