Sunday, August 11, 2013

Overcoming a shopping fear

Nervous people can find even the most mundane tasks distressing. One I recently encountered was a visit to a clothing store. This retailer uses commissioned sales clerks, and usually when I arrive I am immediately "confronted" by a salesperson. I feel pressured, awkward, and overall uncomfortable.

On this occasion I had $200 in gift certificates about to expire, and I wasn't going to let my fear prevent me from spending them. I planned on going on a Saturday, and days before I felt tense and anxious. My mind clouded and I had a sense of dread. In retrospect, I was hardly being realistic (which I discussed in a previous post).

When Saturday arrived, I continued to work myself up, but I decided to "do the thing I feared and hated to do." Instead of making this store the last stop on my Saturday shopping trip, I decided to go to the store first. I reminded myself it's not how I feel but how I function that matters, and I encouraged myself to not work up the situation in the preview.

When I arrived I was immediately engaged by a saleswoman, but she was courteous and helpful. Then minutes later I left the store beaming--I used my gift cards and, more importantly, I didn't let my fear interfere with my everyday life. That was worthy of a hearty endorsement!


Anonymous said...

I have put my muscles in motion and have left stores when the anxiety over which kind/brand of an item had become overwhelming to the point of paralysis. I endorse myself for having excused rather than accuse my self and having extracted myself from the situation.

Rose A. Li said...

Good for you for being able to do that! The hardest part with anticipating an anxiety provoking situation for me is actually making myself do it. Once I'm actually there, a lot of times my anxiety calms down somewhat because whatever I'm doing is keeping my mind off of it...well if it is something I'm actively doing (for a long time concerts, lectures, and plays were hard to sit through...).

But I guess that's how exposure therapy works, right? Learning how to tolerate situations that make us anxious, and that it can be manageable (at some point anyways).

PS- Great blog! :)

Doug said...

Hi, Rose. Yes, in many ways this is like exposure therapy. The anonymous commenter raises a good point: We should excuse, rather than accuse, ourselves when anxiety becomes too overwhelming. I recently backed out of a recreational activity because the stress (it involved heights) was a bit much, but I endorsed myself for even considering doing it.

heather said...

im really happy for and it just makes me believe even more I have been doing the whole jump right in attitude and it has been working it good to see other people like me have success it lets me no im doing good