Have you ever been to one of those sushi restaurants with the revolving carousel of different dishes coming round? You can choose which dishes you want to enjoy, and which ones you want to allow to just go right on by…
I love this as a metaphor for our thoughts. Perhaps we have little or no control over the dishes that come round the carousel, but we DO have quite a lot of choice about which ones we eat.
Most of us have sushi dishes (thoughts) that have been round a number of times. Maybe they are not so fresh any more, and some may be downright “past their eat-by date”!
And yet, if we believe the illusion that our thoughts are ‘true’, and that they are us, we are somehow compelled to pick them up (yet again), and chew them over. You could say these are patterns or habits of thinking, and we often give these much more significance than they merit. Our thoughts are a lot more random than that.
But the great news is that the sushi chef is constantly creating NEW, fresh dishes. Perhaps dishes we’ve never tried before, which introduce us to whole new tastes and experiences.
Sally had suffered from severe anxiety her whole life. Although she was a successful professional, she was constantly exhausted because her thinking suggested that the only way she could sustain her ‘success’ was to constantly over-prepare, get up two hours earlier than was necessary, and spend hours analysing every conceivable ‘what if? scenario that played out in her mind.
During our coaching conversation, I shared the sushi bar metaphor with her. Sally ‘got it’ at such a deep level that it transformed her whole life. She no longer suffers from anxiety. Like all of us, she sometimes has ‘anxious thinking’ coming round the sushi bar and a few moments of feeling anxious. But she knows what it’s made of, and where it’s coming from, and she doesn’t have to take it seriously. She understands that new thinking is available in any moment.
It’s easy to miss the new though, when we are shining the spotlight of our conscious attention on the old, stale dish we’re eating. Our eyes may not even flick back to the carousel, because we’re too busy trying to digest what we have in front of us – and then experiencing the results of that – in our minds and bodies.
Look back to the carousel – and see what your infinite creative potential can offer up next. Pass the wasabi.