I recently went to Costco with my husband while we were both hungry. Big mistake. After aisles of bad decisions and impulsive grabs, I looked down at the cart and realized I should never judge anyone elses grocery choices again.
Wait a minute. I judge other people’s grocery carts? Yes, unfortunately I am guilty of this covert practice, now admitting that I have done this numerous times in the past. Upon reflection of such an atrocity, I considered how I feel when others judge my cart. I have made an unfair assumption that everyone does this and therefore I must cover up my bad and unhealthy choices with whatever excuse for a vegetable I may have. Totally true. I am also guilty of strategically placing items on the conveyor belt to save myself from the glaring eyes of the shopper behind me.
So here we are, grocery judgment. And although I want to think that I am the only person that has ever done this, I find that the more people I talk to, the more admit to the same criminal act of the mind. So I am not out of the norm, thank goodness. But what does this mean for all of us?
It’s a funny reminder that we judge and we do it all the time. Usually we judge in the negative, labeling people and making up stories about what their life looks like beyond the grocery store. We believe so strongly in the stories that we make up that we may even make comments under our breath, roll our eyes or just display a microexpression of disgust.
With the state of our profession, the health care system, the political climate endorsing the biggest divide in our society that most of us have never seen in our lifetimes, judgment is on the rise, embraced by some to be the truth. This can be a detriment to our ability to create positivity in our lives and create moments of connection with those we work with day in and day out.
We need to be mindful that the coworker that rubs us wrong in a morning meeting or the family member that sends endless emails and phone calls have more going on than we can see. They have a cart full of choices and reasons beyond our understanding. Things are happening for them in their homes, with their own families, with their finances, with their health. We know none of this when we make a snap discriminating story about who they are.
If you struggle with creating compassion, consider this once again. I cover up my twinkies with bananas on the conveyor belt. I do that because I fear being judged. Additionally I create a story of my own to justify my purchases… we are having a party tonight, my daughter is coming home from college, I need snacks for my residents… Yeah, yeah… that’s it. See I’m not so bad.
We have the ability to create that compassionate story about ourselves, yet why do we find it so difficult to afford others the same compassion that we use to justify our own choices?
The bottom line, it is hard.
It takes work.
It requires you to be aware, mindful and willing to acknowledge what you are doing.
If I can have a blinding flash of the obvious like I did at Costco, you can too. Catch yourself the next time you are grocery judging. Laugh at the absurdity of it, be graceful to yourself that it is human and normal. Then make up a compassionate story to replace the judgmental one. Maybe they are having a party, having their daughter home from college for a weekend, in need of snacks for their residents.
Take some time this week to practice the compassionate story towards your coworkers. Now, more than ever, we need the support of each other to get through this new year of new challenges. We do not need to create a bigger divide amongst ourselves than is already being forced upon us by political and societal ideas. As a team, we must work to create a team environment, and that can start with you.
And by the way, buy what you want. If I am behind you at the store I will do my best not to judge your cart but rather acknowledge that the doritos are probably for your spouse, the poptarts are for your picky child and the chocolate ice cream and cookies are for you. After all, we all need a treat after such a difficult two years.
Catherine Braxton improv4caregivers.com