Assaulted, Insulted and Exhausted (and they need to be counseled and consulted!)
I wasn’t paying much attention earlier this week when I semi-consciously walked into the store to get a some fresh produce, same as I do every few days. But then,
I was knocked into visual overwhelm and confusion, an auditory recoil, an olfactory (smelling) cringe and a visceral reaction to run and hide for my physical and emotional wellbeing, as the lights, music, colors and aromas about knocked me to the floor.
I just wanted some kale, bananas, strawberries and blueberries for my morning smoothies, but I also got this bonus:
A HOLY DAYS assault. (yay!…NOT!)
I “should” have been better prepared; after all, I’ve had a relationship with this season for 58 years now.
But YOU know how it is.
In fact, YOU’VE probably voiced the same complaint that most everyone does:
“Why do they start SO early?!”
But on that day, at that time, in that mindset, I was not expecting an emotional mugging of my serenity.
I shook my head, as I often do when abruptly confronted by dysfunctional cultural mores, got my feeling-groovy-smoothie ingredients, went through the checkout and escaped without further harm.
Or so I thought.
I steamed about this experience in my mind a bit as I was driving home, and seethed when I saw a religious bumper sticker referring to “the reason for the season.”
Everyone wants a piece of the action, that’s for sure.
I arrived home, jonesing for my feeling-groovy-smoothie, went to the kitchen, dropped the secret ingredients into my high performance 3-horsepower blender, let it spin for 2 minutes, and then was ready to have my super drink in preparation for a super afternoon.
Only one problem: I was exhausted!
A mere 30 minutes prior to my traumatic grocery store fiasco, I was ready to write my daily 500+ therapeutic words, make some business calls, go for a walk and then head to the office. The little voice in my head was saying,
“But now, I just want to lie down and sleep!”
I’ve learned over the years that “the little voice in my head” (no, not those kind of voices!) is usually the voice of overreaction and panic. I refer to it as “the caveman voice” meaning that it’s the old primal reptilian brain that only knows protection and survival, and is typically inclined to drive each and every neurotic reaction I have (yes, I have many…okay?!!).
So the “survival” message my brain was sending was to rest from the “battle” I had just been through.
Yes, my mind (and probably yours too) interprets these over-sensory loaded shopping experiences as war zones.
No wonder there’s so much stress, violence, alcohol arrests and relationship strife over the holidays!
Let me recap:
- I went to the store on a very benign shopping trip to get a handful of fresh items for a healthy meal.
- I was unexpectedly assaulted with holiday sensory overload.
- I rekindled a resentful attitude and felt insulted regarding the lack of holiday sanctity and the overwhelming amount of consumerism.
- I came home to dive into my well planned and purposely balanced day, only to feel completely exhausted due to my simple little shopping trip.
Do these businesses have any idea as to the level of stress they add to an already stressful time of the year? Some businesses, this year, started with their holiday “stuff” the middle of October.
So here’s my advice Mr. Big Business: Instead of going on auto-pilot with holiday rituals and pushing the bar a little bit more every year, give us a break and let us enjoy October and November, Halloween and Thanksgiving, and we’ll have plenty of time to get all the holiday “stuff” we need.
Psychology Today posted a very insightful and easy-to-read article about how the retail world manipulates its customers into staying longer in their stores and, of course, spending more. Click on this:
So, how about (drum roll please) a more emotionally intelligent approach to the holidays?!
High-end retailer Nordstrom has the right idea:
“We won’t be decking our halls until Friday, November 27. Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving. You see holiday things start to happen earlier and earlier. It’s never been a part of our business to look at what other retailers are doing and say, ‘How can we copy them?’ We want to play our game and be the best Nordstrom we can be. And part of that is celebrating one holiday at a time.”
Perhaps some counseling and consulting with Nordstrom might be inline for these other businesses. Or at least, follow the lead of Nordstrom.
Happy Holy Days and let’s have a little more meaning and a little less money motivation.
Good time of the year to Marry YourSelf First!