I nearly lost my cool in the kitchen section over birch veneer countertops.
And I almost had a tantrum in the restaurant over chicken tikka masala.
No greater test hath humankind devised than a six-hour visit to Ikea on a Saturday.
At least in my experience.
After years practising all the stuff I talk about in these emails, I am 10x better than I ever was.
But I’m not perfect. I’m still a work in progress. I still need to visit the gym.
And so “stress tests” such as a trip down the winding intestine of an Ikea showroom are a good thing because they serve to make you stronger.
Here’s some interesting findings from my “perfectly imperfect” day amid the flat packs:
First, I went in there with positive expectations. While years ago, I would have gone with dread, this time I went with the belief that the experience would be if not joyfully happy, then at least “just fine”. The result was that I was automatically looking for the positive, so more positive showed up (and less negative).
Second, I was good to myself. When I felt like I needed a break – to take myself away from the situation – I did that. An extra helping of Swedish meatballs did the trick. The secret is to give yourself permission to take care of yourself (because taking care of yourself takes care of those around you too.)
Third, I practised “watching my mind”. I was aware when I was getting triggered. I was able to “mind the gap” between trigger and response. While I came close to losing it a couple of times, I held it together because I noticed what was going on in my mind and was able to slow the runaway train of conditioned thoughts. This comes with practice. It results from a lot of failing and then noticing that you’ve failed.
And here’s the biggest thing. It’s OK to almost lose it. It’s OK to not be in alignment. After all, if Ikea’s heady mix of overwhelming choice and big spending is not your thing, it’s natural to struggle.
We’re all perfectly imperfect.
The trick is to be good to yourself. To understand. And to just do what makes you feel a little bit better.
Like going to the gym, the experience may hurt, but it serves to make the muscles of your mind stronger.
P.S. In case you are wondering, Ikea as been the scene of major meltdowns in my life. Divorce threats among the closet organizers kind of thing. So despite the “almost” tantrums, this visit was a big success. (Oh, and we picked up a cool spice jar organizer.)
Picture by Jan Harold Diaz