Lingerie and Lip Service

Bonnie with shopping bagWhat to do when an ordinary, little like trauma strikes.

Recently my daughter Leah and I were out at a mall and she had a discount coupon for undies at a well-know lingerie store. In we went to grab the deal. As she checked out she was looking down, putting her card away as the cashier quickly wrapped her purchases, and was slipping them into one of their oh-so-recognizable shopping bags. I was a few feet away in my own thoughts and didn’t see the interchange, but as Leah told it, the 20 year old, with the measuring tape around her neck, began to shove the bag toward her, as Leah was saying, “Oh, no thank you, I don’t need the bag.” The girl gave her a mocking grin while looking totally disinterested in what Leah wanted and replied, ” They’re already in the bag.” meaning she had gone through all the trouble of opening the bag to put the undies in it, so take the damn bag.

Leah was stunned. Her thoughts were probably something like, “Wow! Where did that come from?” to, “ What the hell??” to, “ I’m a decade older than her, so why is she so disrespectful?” to, “ I can’t believe I just took that from her.” and then, “I always let people walk over me.” At that point the self-criticism in her mind was on a roll.

It was such a small incident, which we all face from time to time. Leah was outraged because she would never treat anyone, let alone treat a customer, in such a dismissive way.

On our way out of the store, Leah was quietly telling me what happened. I am as much of a non-confrontation mouse as she is, but as far as I was concerned, we were not going to take the bag. There was an employee near the exit and I handed her the pink bag with black handles (I don’t like advertizing that I was there anyway.) kindly saying that we already had a bag, thanks. As we continued out of the store the woman called out, “But there are so many uses for the bags! I use them for my lunches….” At that point our mood had changed. Leah no longer felt like a victim to poor manners having gotten rid of the bag.

Soon after that we were on the road home, and Leah was recounting the story, still feeling irritated by the young cashiers treatment, when I growled under my breath, “Keep the f___ing bag.” and began to laugh. Then Leah came back with her own wished-for response at the time and we began howling, even crying in laughter.

Ordinarily an experience like that carries a sting, or trauma which we feel each time we remember the event. The memory conjures up feelings of negativity and self-reproach. But, this time we had employed a tool unknowingly, which helps to release emotions so that it doesn’t end up as a traumatic event for us. This tool is used simply by imagining the outcome we would like to have had. The chosen outcome could be funny, or even outrageous. It is just our imagination after all, and can’t hurt anyone, and it becomes for us an opening to emotional freedom from the event. We can then change forever our response to the event and likely future ones, by having created a new habit of responding. This simple change in thought changes your brain by creating a different neural pathway than the path way created by the original event. The more you think a thought the stronger that pathway becomes, so we want to create neural pathways that create positive emotion, not negative, to be the dominant pathways.

Leah would likely have held onto that negative event for some time if we had not used this tool of retelling the story. I asked her today how she remembers the story, and she just laughed about it. So give it a try! I think you will feel a lot freer and lighter using this re-telling tool after life events happen, as they always will. Life is full of lots of opportunities to practice this tool!

If you have any experiences you would like to share using this tool, please comment on my Facebook page: Bonnie Olson Life Coach. I would love to hear them!

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