Long story, short: sometimes life gets stressful. I made a background for my phone to help me chill out. Scroll straight to end of post to view – or read the entire narrative going on in my head right now for some entertainment and possibly some empathy 😉
Sometimes there are days when making simple decisions are impossible. I’m not talking about the days of not knowing what to wear out of the house. Nor do I write of the conversations between significant others that follow the general timeline, “What do you want for dinner?” – “I dunno, whatever you want” – “But I want to know what you want. Anything is fine really” – “How about Chinese takeout?” – “Meh, no”
The simple decision of today is: Where should I buy groceries? Simple, right? Just pick the closest grocery store and go. No need for brand name celery or anything, right?
Somehow, I have overthought the question of where to buy groceries to the point of freezing entirely and I’m now planning to avoid buying groceries ever again. For those of you thinking, “you’re bonkers, please explain” feel free to read further. For those of you thinking, “I don’t care what’s up in your head, just show me the picture” I invite you to skip to the end of the post for pretty watercolor pastels.
All of the psychology interested minds of the internet are most likely familiar with Seligman’s concept and experiments around learned helplessness. There’s way more to it but to water it down enough for this blog post basically: In experiments with dogs, Fido would learn in some fashion that he can’t escape an adverse stimulus so Fido just gives up on trying to escape the stimulus. In Seligman’s experiments, the adverse stimulus was a shock. Some dogs learned how to escape the periodic shocks but other dogs were not provided that learning opportunity (basically, conditioning) and ended up giving up on trying to escape the periodic shocks. Sounds terrible, right? When I sat in my first psych class that discussed these experiments, I thought there was no way this could apply to humans (such silly thoughts of a first semester college freshman with barely 18 years of experience in this world). 9 years later, I’ve changed my thoughts on the topic:
I feel like I might “get” what Fido was experiencing. Not shocks But the adverse experience that leads to frozen, indecisive giving up. (I won’t get shocked until winter time when I reach for my car door, then I’ll become conditioned to jerk my hand away from the car door just before grasping the handle and getting a shock every. single. time. – true story, that happened last winter).
So anyways, what do Fido and I have in common right now?
Well currently, hugs and I are trying to figure out how we can work better nutrition into our day to day lives without giving up too much of our already limited time and without parting with too much of our very much thankful to earn income. So it’s not entirely an issue of being lazy (take that millennial h8trs). So here’s the deal: I’ve found all kinds of recipes that look delicious, are more nutrient dense than our typical meal routine, and each of these recipes are designed with ingredients that I’ve actually heard of before. But here’s where it gets tricky: after finding the recipes, planning what to eat when, and making out the grocery list I am plum tired and don’t feel like getting my hiney to the grocery store, navigating through people, and making small talk with the cash register employee (yeah, you’re dealing with a major introvert here. Even Meyers-Briggs was impressed). So then I decided to use the Walmart Grocery Pickup service – and I’m so excited to delete the most stressful part of cooking for me from my routine while also staying within our grocery budget! But the Walmart grocery pickup team doesn’t know how to pick out produce to my liking. I’m pretty sure a desire for fresh produce and not moldy tomatoes is not too tall an order, maybe I’m wrong (that’s happened a couple times before). But I do know that if I went grocery shopping and saw moldy tomatoes, they wouldn’t end up in my shopping cart. So now I’m brainstorming all kinds of ways around the hassles of meal planning and grocery shopping and cooking. But each time I think I’ve found a solution, I nearly simultaneously find all kinds of flaws with the idea.
And so now I can empathize with Fido. Because after repeated adverse stimuli (trying and failing and failing and failing and failing to find a solution to my grocery shopping dilemma) I have now decided to never go grocery shopping or cook again.
Until a few hours from now when I face facts and realize I’m hungry and grocery shopping is really the only responsible way around that.
And so while trying to calm myself down I reached out to hugs and he gave the wonderful advice, “Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. We don’t have to figure this out in the current hour”.
Sometimes he is so right.
And so here is the iPhone background I made myself to stop freaking out over both the little things and the big things. Because figuring this out isn’t entirely up to me anyways. As hugs mentioned, “WE don’t have to figure this out in the current hour”. And that means tonight WE will set aside time to untangle this dilemma I’ve snarled myself into together.