Saturday, May 14, 2011

Inspirational Saturday: Park Your Ego

You walk into a store and start looking around and find something you like, so you take it up to the register. The woman behind the counter sees you coming, frowns, and walks away to the back room. Do you explain her actions to yourself one of these ways?

"I'm bothering her and she doesn't want to deal with another customer."
"She thinks I don't belong in the store and don't intend to buy something."
"She's mad at me because I'm only buying one item."

We could continue these self explanations all day.

When my son was little, I wanted to teach him to park his ego and practice healthy mental hygiene because we tend to explain everything in relation to ourselves as if we somehow cause things to happen or instigate events. We would be out and about and we might witness someone slamming their car trunk and shoving their grocery cart angrily into the cart corral. I'd say, "Alex, what's up with that person?" He'd say something like "He forgot to buy something and he doesn't want to go back and get it but he knows his wife'll chew him out when he gets home." I'd say, "His trunk doesn't work on his car so he has to slam it and he shoved the cart into the corral to be sure it didn't roll back out and hit a car." We'd continue on back and forth until we ran out of explanations. The lesson for him was, "until you approach someone and ask them for an honest answer, you may never know why they do what they do."

The store clerk above (this actually happened to me) had to go in back to get her manager because it was her first day on the job and she couldn't use the register. Imagine if I left that store thinking like the person above who believed the clerk thought she was not of the caliber to shop there? That woman might never come back to that store, feeling it was humiliating to shop there. Wow!

The point of today's inspiration is that you can list a shitload of reasons why someone did something, but you won't know which one it was and acting on something you told yourself in your head is like saying that Starbucks has to be located near other stores because it gets lonely if it's not in a crowded space. The correlations may make no logical sense, but some people jump from point A to point B with an unguided jet pack.

Look into your thoughts some time, how you explain things that happen during the day. Take note of how many times you explain things in relation to yourself. "She thinks my hair is goofy, I saw her looking at it." "They aren't getting another contract because I barely finished the last one on time." "She's angry because I didn't give her a back rub last night."


  1. You know, I wasn't expecting the subject based on the title, but this was a really good one. I'm SUPER sensitive and have a habit of misinterpreting things. (It stems from childhood and a mom who convinced me EVERYTHING was my fault. Always!)

    But I'll work on "parking my ego" more as part of my "healthy mental hygiene" routine from here on out. Really excellent advice in this one, Autumnforest.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. I have a condition of facial amnesia. It sounds weird, but basically I cannot picture anyone's face, not even my own or my son's. When I see him, I recognize him, but if I ran into him in a place I didn't expect to, I'd look right past him and not register. So, I am at the mercy of others recognizing me and approaching and then I realize who they are when they talk and their hair color and clothing and such. It makes it weird because all my life people would be like, "she's made at me, she didn't say hi when she looked right at me in the restaurant." Another example of that "everything is explained by me" mentality. I have a compassion for everyone, so if someone is snappy or sad or nasty, I figure they must have had some bad shit going down and I'm extra kind. I don't take it personally because our emotions are only created by ourselves and how we explain the world to ourselves.

  3. That's a good point. It's like, "Why did she drop a deuce on my chest while I was sleeping?" I never asked, but I'll just assume that it had nothing to do with calling her mom fat...

  4. I liked this post very much. There is that saying, "Sometimes it's not personal even if it has your name on it".
    Kudos to you for waiting it out.

  5. How dare you invoke introspection on your blog.
    How do you know that clerk wasn't just lying about being able to use the register? IT'S POSSIBLE. But you seem like too much of a people-person for that to happen.
    BTW, if you want to practice good mental hygiene, don't forget the mental floss