Seeing With New Eyes

Life is like shopping; sometimes it’s inspiring and sometimes it’s frustrating. Understanding what makes the difference is life-changing.

When I go shopping, I like to visit a range of stores. Each has its own characteristics, some more enjoyable than others. There’s one budget supermarket where you can get some good quality produce at bargain prices. But I’ve always found the experience rather frustrating, until recently.

The thing is that the layout of the store seemed to defy logic. I could never find what I wanted, so I wandered around until either I struck lucky or gave up. Many times I would get really annoyed at what I saw as the disorganised system. It got to the point when I only went to that store if I had plenty of time to spare.

Last week, I called in for a few items. The herbal tea bags were easy, check. The houmous should be in the refrigerator … but it doesn’t seem to be there. OK, don’t give up. Let’s look again, along every shelf. There’s a lot of shelves… ah, finally, there it is! It wasn’t right up there last time. Now, what about the custard?

The custard turned out to be much more elusive. I could feel the frustration beginning to take hold. Surely, it should be easier than this. Who designed this ridiculous system anyway? Perhaps the joke is on the customer – maybe there are hidden cameras and someone is having a good laugh. No, be serious. But where on earth is the custard?

I could feel the tension building and it was then I fortunately remembered. Our feelings always come from our thinking, so my frustration and annoyance must be coming from my thoughts. An internal light-bulb switched on – I was thinking myself into a paddy! The supermarket had nothing to do with it!

If the supermarket was the cause of frustration then every customer would be equally frustrated. When I looked around at my fellow shoppers, I could see no signs. Besides I don’t get annoyed myself on every visit. No, the frustration was coming from my thinking.

Somehow, realizing this, standing there in the aisle, I could feel the tension dissolve. Knowing that it was my thinking gave me a choice – I could feed those thoughts or not. I chose not to and as those thoughts shrivelled, new thoughts were able to flow in. Immediately I began to feel better.

Notice I did not make myself think positive. Neither did I reframe the situation. The store had not changed one iota; the layout was still the same and I never did find the custard. But simply knowing that my experience was coming from my thinking, as indeed it always does, was enough to change my feelings and change my behavior. I was able smile again.


Seeing With New Eyes — 4 Comments

  1. Great work again Trevor, I know the shop you speak of well and used to visit it from time to time. I found it exciting to visit from the perspective of its random offers and special products bought in every week to tempt you into buying things you did not know you wanted before seeing them. It was a great store to visit when you had time to browse but if you were in more of a hurry and needed to get things quickly I would choose another supermarket to visit whose layout was more clear and there were staff about to help when required. Once I had this realisation then it was easier to handle and make decisions so then the frustrations would not arise, after all you would not lay seige to a butchers waiting for him to sell you bananas as clearly this was not going to be in his product portfolio and the longer you stood there the more frustrated and upset you would become.

    We can then of course apply this to all areas of life from our relationnships, friends, work and pretty much eveything in the now and the future. Then it dawned on me we could do the same with the past too. Whilst we cannot change the past and what has happened we can change the way we see it and then just like knocking a domino stood on end in a long row of dominoes the effect will roll forward into the now and then continue with us into the future.

    Keep up the excellent work

    • Thanks Jon – I particularly like the metaphor of butchers and bananas!

      Also you make a great point about how we experience the past. The historical facts may be unchangeable – we were born in a certain place, went to a specific school, had particularly relationships and so on – but the way we bring that past to life in the present is by the thoughts we have about it. Those thoughts are not dictated by the past; they are created in the present – in the here-and-now. So just as you say, there are different thoughts we can have now about the past. This is, of course, behind the saying that ‘time is a great healer’ because over time, our thoughts about the past inevitably change. But it doesn’t have to take years because a new thought can come in a flash when our mind is open.

  2. Your blog made me smile Trevor! It sounded so familiar, even though I don’t know the exact shop you are referring too, but I could really relate to it!

    It’s amazing how powerful our thoughts can be and how we hold the key to reducing our stress just by acknowledging and changing them.

    • I’m pleased it made you smile Susan – it is amusing how easy it is to make stuff up and then act as if it were true!

      What I find, as I get more aware of how my thinking creates my experience in any given moment, is that what I previously regarded as unassailable reality (like a badly designed shop) is actually something I have ‘invented’ through my thinking. The choice comes because I can either go ahead and act on that invention if it feels good or choose to discount it as a thought-invention if it makes me feel other than good. The brilliant thing is that it takes no effort – simply recognising what is happening seems to be enough.