'Relinquishing' at the bookstore!

As an Inspired Shopper, every shopping experience teaches me something new. I went to my local shopping centre today after not having been for a while. I'd felt 'shopped out', and wanted to give myself time to enjoy the bargains I'd picked up at the Boxing Day sales.

The first item on my list was a birthday present for an old friend. I'd already picked out this present, a book that is the basis for a period drama that has recently been released in the cinemas. The book was about 30 per cent off the full price, and repackaged to link up with the film, with a photo of the lead actress on the cover. I felt sure my friend would love the film (which I'd seen) so I took a punt on the book, having read other books by the author -- but I made sure to use my intuition.

Presents -- for friends, partners, family, and anyone else -- are notoriously difficult to get right. Anthropologist James Carrier sees gift giving as our atttempt to turn impersonal consumer objects into personal things that reflect who we are and our ties with our loved ones. We want so much to tell the recipients, through our gifts, that we know who they are well enough to gauge what they would like. But it's so hard to do this successfully, unless we ask for a 'laundry list'. Intuition, I've found, can help me to pick a present that 'hits the spot'.

Buying books is a big risk -- the basis for liking or disliking a particular author is unfathomable. Sense of humour, literary style, subject matter -- all these can play a role, but the tastes of our friends, partners and family members can remain a mystery to us despite what we already know about them. I rarely buy books as presents unless I know that the intended recipient favours a particular author, or unless I know them so well that the subject matter of the book in question is sure to please.

When I saw this book I'd recently seen the accompanying film. I immediately thought 'Donna' (my friend's name). But I didn't let that decide me -- first, I relinquished the book. Relinquishing is an essential part of the Inspired Shopping process. It can mean simply walking away for a few minutes from something you think you'd like to buy, or leaving the shop and coming back on the same or a later shopping trip. When you do this, you really need to give the item up, temporarily at least -- to convince yourself that you're not going to buy it. Then you watch and see how your intuition -- your deepest self -- reacts.

In this case, I decided to come back and pick up the book another time. This is a great way to relinquish if you're not concerned that the item is going to sell out. Why? Because the item bubbles away in your unconscious, giving you time to assess, without conscious effort, whether it really is what you want. I wasn't going to be seeing Donna for a couple of weeks so there was no urgency.

However, I have to say that my first effort at relinquishing proved to be favourable. My intuition 'alarm' went off and I felt sure I would buy the book when I returned to the bookshop.

I went back today, as I said, and tested the process a final time by relinquishing quickly (simply putting the book back on the shelf and starting to walk away). My intuition alarm went off again, so I knew for certain I could buy the book!

This example is important, I think, because there was some rational basis for my decision. But I didn't rely wholly on my rational mind; my intuition was the final arbiter. As well, I wanted to give my friend a surprise, and asking her if she liked the book's author would have spoilt that.

In my next post I'll detail another aspect of my experience at the shopping centre.

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