This weekend, I had to grocery shop. It is definitely not my favorite chore these days. There’s no telling what will or won’t be on the shelves. Maybe I’ll find a pot-roast I can afford, but they won’t have the onions I like to add when I season the roast. Maybe I’ll find the cereal my husband likes best, but then, it may cost twice the usual price and I’ll feel conflicted about buying it. It’s just no fun to go shopping anymore – especially for groceries
I remember my first grocery shopping trip in Hawaii – I was dumfounded with sticker-shock! It took me a while to remember that I was vacationing on an island where, if you want pasta, dried and packaged, it had to be processed in Milwaukee and transported to the West coast, then travel from Los Angeles, on a ship across the ocean. So no, the box of rotini is not going to cost eighty-nine-cents. It’s going to be more like $1.59 – and that was in the 1990s. That’s how I felt shopping this weekend.
And if inflation and shortages aren’t enough to get my juices flowing, there’s all those other people who’ve come out to shop on the same day and time that I chose to shop. They don’t seem to know what they’re looking for or where to stand while they gaze at the shelves. They seem not to notice that they’ve parked their cart in the center of an aisle, allowing for no other carts to pass them on either side while they ponder the price of spaghetti sauce. It’s frustrating.
In my very small and increasingly irritated view of the world, they (those offending “others”) seem mostly to be male. Men, mindlessly staring at cans or cartons, wondering what to put into their carts and largely taking up space on a very busy day at my local supermarket. And of course, you know who has grown unforgivingly impatient with all this! Moi.
Then, suddenly, from deep inside me I remember why I’m here – in my local supermarket – and it is not primarily to buy groceries. I am actually. . .
- Re-stocking the pantry and it is no wonder this chore is taking me longer than I’d prefer.
- Planning our meals (on the fly, of course, because I didn’t bring a written meal plan with me) and that too, is adding to the stress of my endeavor.
- Looking for bargains – things that I know we’ll also enjoy eating, so there’s little or no food waste.
- And of course, I’m stressing about prices and value and quality, like every other consumer in the market – just trying to get through my day!
Okay, what ever happened to mindfulness and self-compassion? What ever became of “Breathe!” which, as a coach, I certainly own as my mantra. What’s become of wanting to live gently on the planet and caring about all the other folks who inhabit it with me? It seems for the two hours of this trip, I let all of that go by the wayside. Sad, but true.
So, there I was, in the middle of the grocery store brewing this loud, noisy, critical storm in my head about all these annoying people. How was that helping anyone? (Especially me?).
Whenever I catch myself whining or complaining about others, I have to be honest with myself and admit that their behaviors likely mimic my own. I subconsciously see in them the things I despise most about myself – carelessness, lack of consideration, being “in the way” and otherwise acting annoyingly! The very behaviors that push all my buttons are probably those I also exhibit when I’m not at my best (think hungry, tired, angry, or lonely).
What pushes your buttons? What shoves you into that place where you’re not at your best? What is the storm that brews in your head when your annoyance with others is largely a reflection of your own worst ways of behaving?
I invite you to consider with me, how we can stop the storm, take that deep breath, and re-construct our day and our experience. We have the power to take back our lives, to shed the anxiety we create, and simply move through the world with peacefulness and gratitude, if we want to!
It took me a while (too long) to get to that place after my grocery store fiasco, but I’m in a better place now and trying to be as compassionate toward my fully-flawed-self as I might be toward others.
Say it with me, won’t you: “In this moment, I am safe; I am happy; I am healthy; I live at ease.” And let’s try to start the week on a better footing, with more patience and kindness in our hearts toward everyone we encounter – even in the grocery store.