When I lived in South Florida I often got my groceries at the cutest little market called The Boys Farmer’s Market that had amazing prices on fresh local and exotic produce. It had a cool market feel so different from the commercialized grocery stores. But there was a cost to this neighborhood feel that came with extremely tight aisles and checkout lanes and little old ladies ready to run you over for that mango if you dilly-dallied.
And that happened to me more than once. I wore flip-flops (because it’s South Florida) and minded my own business as I checked my shopping list. Suddenly a shooting pain raced from my big toe to my brain that made me want to smack the old lady who rudely shoved her way in between people down the aisle. Immediately I felt a surge of injustice and personal attack – how could we let her get away with such entitlement?
Have you ever had an experience like this?
When I look at this more mindfully, I can see that when I was run over by that little old lady, I attached to the thoughts that arose, which were something like: How dare she? Who does she think she is? How can she get away with being so rude? When I held onto these thoughts, I felt wronged, slighted and angry. That feeling stuck with me the whole trip.
What if instead, I recognized these thoughts as they arose and instead of believing in them, chose not to attach to them? I might have chosen another thought that served me better, like: wow that old lady is really in a hurry! Maybe she has to cook a big meal for grandkids she hasn’t seen in years and she’s late! Choosing this thought arouses compassion instead of anger. And the truth is, I had no idea why this lady was behaving like she was. We so often jump to negative conclusions because we feel wronged by them. But if I can let go of attaching to my own problems for a moment, and step into possibility of someone else’s, my whole outlook and attitude shifts toward the positive. And that’s good for me as well as them!But if I can let go of attaching to my own problems for a moment, and step into possibility of someone else’s, my whole outlook and attitude shifts toward the positive. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting to note that I was angry about that lady feeling entitled to pushing through people in the aisle. Yet I felt entitled to have a shopping trip free from being pushed aside. Now you might be thinking, well, yes, of course! But that feeling of entitlement is what brought up my negative feelings in the first place. Letting go of the feeling of entitlement I had to a run-over-free shopping trip would not have triggered the anger that the entitlement triggered. The feelings that we assume others have caused in us are so often just a reflection of our own beliefs and thoughts that we project outwards.The feelings that we assume others have caused in us are so often just a reflection of our own beliefs and thoughts that we project outwards. Click To Tweet
I began to dread going into that market because it felt like a battle – first the battle for a parking space, then the battle of the shopping carts in the aisle, then the battle of securing a place in line by the registers that wouldn’t block everyone else from the aisles, and finally the battle of racing out of the parking lot to get to the far end of the road to make a U-turn back toward home. It’s enough to raise my blood pressure even remembering.
Yet I kept going back. The truth is, it was a great deal for good quality. I wasn’t forced to go there, and I could decide not to go anytime I wanted. But it had a benefit for me. So I went. I knew the likelihood of being run over by little old ladies ahead of time, but I still let it get to me when it inevitably happened. The responsibility for my anger was my own, not the old lady’s.The responsibility for my anger was my own. Click To Tweet
Once I recognized this, I decided to experiment with a simple meditation-type mindshift that helps bring me peace and compassion no matter what the situation. Make sure to check out my next article, where I explain this technique so you can experience it for yourself!