In my early working years, I worked in sales, mostly retail.
When I worked in shoes, I approached it from an earnest position with a focus on helping a customer find comfort. If they asked for a size, I was equipped to measure their foot and find the right size then I was knowledgeable enough about the shoe inventory to recommend the best shoe to fit.
After a year or two, I could eyeball someone’s foot and tell what size they wore. But, I also quickly learned that some people didn’t prioritize their comfort.
I remember a woman came into the store and handed me a shoe. She asked me for a size 7. I looked down at her foot and assumed it was probably an 8 or 9. So, I asked her if she was sure. She didn’t flinch, but nodded then walked away to sit down.
I walked to the back and grabbed her shoe in the size 7, but also grabbed the higher sizes just in case. I returned and handed her the shoe. As a salesperson, we carried a shoe horn in our pockets. She struggled with the shoe so I whipped out my shoe horn to assist her, but she raised her hand to decline. She fought with the shoe until she was satisfied and then got up to look at them in the mirror.
I just watched with curiosity. Her foot was hanging off the back of the shoe. Her toe was leaning over the front, but she was smiling and looked satisfied.
I mentioned, “I brought a bigger size if you would like to try it.”
She shot me a dirty look and replied, “Why? I wear a size 7.”
I remained silent and just nodded affirmatively. She bought the shoe and walked off looking proud. We could see when shoes we sold were returned. I waited to see that she returned the shoe but it was never returned to stock.
It’s easy to assume this is gender-related. But, I have seen this working with women and men. I have witnessed it while selling shoes, clothes and all types of items. People can get stuck on a certain size that they prefer. They can get stuck on spending a certain amount of money. They can get stuck on a feeling that they believe having the thing will bring them.
Even while staring in the mirror, they see what they want to see instead of the reality. They are willing to endure the discomfort as long as it satisfies the mental payoff.
As much as I wanted to pop the delusional bubble and give them what was actually better for them, I realized that there was nothing I could do to dissuade them. So, I just gave them what they asked for.
As a salesperson, ultimately, my responsibility was to the company and my paycheck, but morally, I felt bad watching people buy things that didn’t serve them. Eventually, it led me to change my path and focus.
However, the lesson I took with me is that some people won’t let go of the image in their mind. They will keep spending money, time and life force energy trying to mold reality to fit the picture in their mind.
You can’t always talk them out of it and it’s not your job. Even therapists won’t challenge your self-concept, they will just keep chipping away at your ideas until you shift your perception.
On one side, it can free you from trying to point out to other people what they don’t want to see. It can make you see if your efforts to encourage them to want something else is actually accomplishing what you intend.
The second side is to figure out if your efforts are chasing an image in your mind. Are you ignoring reality and trying to get all the puzzle pieces into place? Are you doing the same thing?
It’s hard to love the present if the future is your mistress and the past is your master.
I had a conversation with my girlfriend when she was newly married. She told me how she was driving herself crazy trying to go to work, come home, clean the house and cook dinner. She was arguing with her new husband because she wanted him to participate in the image in her mind of what marriage looked like.
My question to her was, “did he ask you to do all of that?”
Her answer was that he didn’t, but she thought this is what a wife does. So I asked, “what would he do if you didn’t cook?
She said, “he would probably eat cereal or something.”
As we discussed it more she realized that she had placed these impossible expectations on herself because she assumed that it who she needed to be. Or, maybe that was the blueprint of what she saw. I invited her to get to know the spouse she has and to figure out their life in a way that worked for both of them instead of trying to fit the ideal in her mind.
Is there a part of you that is committed to an idea? If so, could you be overlooking what is right in front of you or your present happiness? Are you looking at “what’s wrong” in trying to fix it and missing everything that is already in place?
This post is republished on Medium.
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