Reframing the Necessary Evils!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to expand my mindfulness into more areas of my life. One of the challenges I’ve set myself is mindful supermarket shopping, but I have to admit I haven’t been entirely successful. But I have become more aware of what gets in my way, so that’s a start! And what gets in my way is the attitude I have that it’s a necessary evil to be tackled and overcome as quickly and efficiently as possible. I’m so firmly anchored in doing mode, because I just want it done, my ‘doing’ totally overtakes my ‘being’!

The result of this ‘necessary evil’ mind-set is that from start to finish I feel tense and grumpy and anything that gets in the way of me getting it over and done with, as efficiently as possible, makes me even more tense and grumpy. That tension and grumpiness isn’t just unpleasant for me and those around me, but it is also keeping my body from being in healing mode.

I’ve discovered that there are two stages to tackling a ‘necessary evil’ mind-set. The first is to remind myself I have a choice and focus on the benefits. Doing supermarket shopping is a choice. I could do it online instead, or I could just about get by with daily visits to the local convenience store. I’ve chosen to go to the supermarket because of the benefits: I get to pick out the fresh stuff I want and often I’m reminded of the things that I’ve forgotten to put on my list, just by walking my usual route and noticing the items I usually buy. I don’t have to be there, I choose to be there! Another thing I regularly resent as a necessary evil is having a shower and getting dressed, but I remind myself that I want to feel clean and fresh and look presentable, it’s something positive I choose! Things only become a necessary evil when we take the benefits for granted and fail to show them some appreciation! I like to have control over picking out the fresh produce I buy, I like to be flexible with my purchases if something is on offer, I like to know I have all that I need in the house to prepare myself healthy meals without having to pop to the shops all the time. I like feeling clean, I like people to see me with decent hair and appropriate clothing. I like dental check-ups which don’t result in treatment! But all these things I can tend to take for granted.  Instead, when I let myself really appreciate the benefits, the ‘necessary evil’ mind-set starts to crumble.

The second step towards overcoming the ‘necessary evils’  is to set myself the challenge of relaxing and enjoying them. It can be quite hard to overcome a pattern of behaviour that’s been repeated in the past over and over again. New behaviour needs a bit of practise and reinforcement, so I can’t claim that I completely achieved this goal during my supermarket shopping this week. But I made a start and enjoyed a brief accomplishment after reminding myself (for about the 5th time) to be present to the moment, relax and see what I could enjoy. The aisle I was in was an obstacle course of shoppers and shelf fillers, my usual response would have been to feel frustrated that my efficiency was being impeded, but instead I waited patiently for a gap. Then something special happened, a lovely lady moved her trolley to the side for me and invited me to pass her with a big smile on her face. I smiled back and that small moment of warmth that passed between us was a moment of pure enjoyment. What if I could open myself up to more of those moments, perhaps supermarket shopping really could become enjoyable? I almost can’t wait for next week to try again… (or maybe I can!)

It might take me a while to overcome my automatic response to supermarket shopping, but being rewarded with little moments of joy will help. I may not be guaranteed to have rewarding connections with others whilst wondering the aisles but if I can at least stay open and relaxed, I won’t be impeding my healing! We all have different ability levels and supermarket shopping may be way beyond your capability right now, but what kinds of things trigger your ‘necessary evil’ mindset?

Image courtesy of Ambro at

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