Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reflecting on retail

My mind, in it’s sometimes (okay, most of the time) racing fashion, woke me up very early this morning.  Usually when that happens it is because I have a lot to do (true), or because I have a flood of beady ideas that won’t let me rest (true), or sometimes it is just hormones wreaking havoc on my mind (sigh…true).  But this morning when I woke up my mind was reflecting back on yesterday.  Spinning through the myriad of encounters I had with people.  Being in retail increases my odds of that, but yesterday was particularly interesting.

We had a very busy Cyber Monday sale, which translates to a very busy week trying to catch up, which in turn translates to a TON of human interaction.  For the most part everyone was happy, excited, thankful, and anticipatory.  Feelings that translate back to me as joy.  Then a few were frustrated, angry, unnerved.  Feelings that I absorb and cause anxiety for me.  I want them all to be in that first group….I want every single one of my customers to be happy.  (Impossibility, I know…but a girl can dream!).  And then there were a handful who are just unhappy souls.  They have some need to take out their aggression, their angst, their all-encompassing anger on whomever they come into contact with.  At first I absorb this and become overwhelmed by it, I feel the anger and I relate to it.  It exhausts me.  But then within a short amount of time I begin to feel empathy.  What a horrible place in your mind to be living in.  Why are you there?  Can you help it?  Have you tried?  Has it become so commonplace for you that you aren’t even aware of how it spills out onto others? 

I have no answers.  I don’t imagine even the most experienced psychologist has the answers.  And I am not sure even the person experiencing this type of behavior has the answers for themselves either.  And that brings me right back around to feeling sad for those folks who take their anger out on whomever they happen to encounter as their day progresses. 

Don’t get me wrong…I am most certainly not forgiving their behavior or giving them license to behave however or in whatever way they feel.  They still should be held accountable for their actions.  But instead of being angry right back at them, my anger dissolves fairly quickly and I just feel sorry for them.

At work yesterday we had people hang up on us, be extremely passive-aggressive, be blatantly rude, demanding, snarky.  Basically they spewed whatever angst they carry in their lives onto us….all over some beads.  That, my friends, is just sad.

But for every hang up, or rude comment, or demeaning comment there were ten or more that were beautiful, kind, encouraging, happy.  And while it is, for some strange reason, harder to focus on those positive feelings - they are what I need to hang on to.  They are what see me through a tough retail day.  A smile, a thank you, an excited customer is the proverbial wind beneath my wings. 

What heals me after a rough day of retail - brings it all back into focus - are two things I remind myself of. 
One is a quote I have above my computer on my shelf of “Things I love” 

It is a quote of compassion from the Dalai Lama and says:

"I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.  The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life.” 
~ Dalai Lama

It is not easy to remember, but it feels good when I try.
The other thing I remind myself of is a video I saw of Carl Sagan and that we are nothing more than a Pale Blue Dot. (Take 3 minutes out of your day and go watch it...seriously...I'll wait here...GO!)  When I get lost in my thoughts, I’ll watch this video and it slams home just how minuscule we actually are in the scheme of things.  Something about that reminds me to work hard every single day to treat others with kindness and respect, regardless of how they may be treating me.  

I am sure this is a lesson I will need to practice all my life.  I still don’t fully understand it and I most certainly veer off track frequently.  But it is who I want to be.  I want to always be compassionate.

And now…I must get ready to take on another day of retail. 


Luna46911 said...

Work within yourself & the world changes. The world is a better place with you in it. Thanks!

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

And that is why I love you. You keep me going there, you help me remember that no matter how difficult people can be, they are doing the best they can with what they have. That may not always be good…but it is what it is. Love you, girlie!

Kathy Walters said...

Thank you Beki - I needed that today. You are an amazingly insightful woman, when I grow up I want to be as compassionate as you are. Have a wonderful day.

Kathy Walters

Unknown said...

Thank you for this, Beki. I posted the quote and video on my timeline.

flyingbeader said...

I see so much of this working in a hospital too, but usually just let it pass over me as I do work in a stressful situation. But there are times when I just have to sit back & wonder "WHY?" make matters worse by being so demanding or just plain evil. And I see this at the store, at the park, and even at Art shows...really? Don't bring all that hatred to spoil things so lovely. And Sagan said...we are a tiny blue dot...but so amazing I think.

Patrick said...

Well said Beki and very true. Nice to be reminded of it sometimes. It sure does take practice to maintain in this hyped up world.

Sunyoung Park said...

I respect you and I am with you!

Sunyoung Park said...

I sincerely respect you on your thoughts. I am in the same position.

Nancy Sopp said...

Thank you for sharing, Beki.

Sally Anderson said...

Very insightful and powerful, Beki. Your blog posts are always inspiring. I too try to be compassionate. And when someone gives me grief, I try to diffuse the situation and maintain my own inner peace because I sure don't want to go where they are. And usually what happens when I stay in my own space is that the compassion comes on it's own. It's taken me a very long time to get here but I sure do have peace of mind now that I didn't have in my youth. Thank you for this post.