Challenged at Ikea

I took a trip to Ikea yesterday and had an unpleasant retail experience. I don't usually mention specific store names on this blog, because my aim is not to either advertise or bag particular stores. But Ikea is known so widely that the word itself is a shortcut for a particular kind of shopping experience. And I'm not really bagging the store, because it's quite open about its policies regarding staff availability and so on. Most people know the deal when they walk in the door, and the prices are compensation for the lack of individual customer service.

So I'm not even going to describe my experience in any detail, which was as much about the layout of the unfamiliar mall that this Ikea is located in as it was about the store. I will say that surprisingly, and luckily, there were plenty of staff around (probably because it was Christmas) when I needed help.

The main thing I wanted to relate and confess is that I lost my cool. Big time.

I've been writing my book on Inspired Shopping for over a year now. While I feel every emotion under the sun when I'm at the stores, and give myself permission to do this, I realise now that the experiences themselves don't give rise to negative emotions that often. I've become so good at pacing myself and using my intuition when I go to both new and familiar shopping centres, that my shopping experiences are usually quite positive. Well, this one wasn't!

What I discovered about myself in the process was disturbing. When things go wrong, I tend to get upset, in this case with the shopping centre, the store managers and so on. No, I don't shout or stamp my feet, but my impatience is obvious to any staff member I come into contact with. What I've realised from this experience is that my anger can stop me from thinking rationally and finding a way out of my dilemma. In a sense it blinds me. I want the world to change to suit me, to be accommodating. But I need to fall back on my own resources when I come up against a problem, and use my brain to solve it.

This doesn't mean repressing my anger -- I can acknowledge it to myself and then ask myself what I can do to get through my dilemma. This may sound obvious to some, but it's quite a challenge to me. It makes me think of transactional analysis, which holds that we all have within us the subject positions of child, adult and parent. When things go wrong at the shops I move to the position of the child and start treating the shop assistants as parents who have to comfort me and make things okay again. Instead, I need to adopt an adult position, soothing myself and asking for practical help, if need be, without also asking for emotional support.

I'm in a quandary now, because in a way I have to hope that I'll go through this experience again so I can test myself and this time manage the emotions better. But, like everyone else at this time of year, I want shopping to be smooth sailing, so I hope any further 'growth' experiences happen after Christmas!

I wonder if any readers grapple with their child self when they're shopping -- I'd love to hear from you!

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