Felt embarrassed, ever?
Ever felt guilty about something non-consequential and then later regret acting on your guilt, rather than your values? Yes, in the moment, it might be uncomfortable, somewhat embarrassing, and perhaps an inconvenience to others. Nonetheless, to not speak up would mean regret, a difficulty letting go and a feeling that somehow, you haven’t been your true self. In sessions, I often give “the contractor” example, but more recently, I picked up one about yogurt. I’ll explain.
Many moments in the Southern Hemisphere
Husb and I spent three weeks in New Zealand last month, two in the north island and one in the south. Limited by vacation days, we really could’ve stayed there for three more weeks. In the north island, we enjoyed Hobbiton, geothermal activities, hikes, museums, Weta Cave Workshop, black water rafting, and native bird watching.
In the south island, we camper vanned for eight days and took in breathtaking views of the Moeraki Boulders, Lake Wakatipu, Mount Cook, and Milford Sound.
And somewhere in the south island, yogurt happened.
Tempted by food
You see, at this amazing grocery store Pakn’Save, we found this interesting lookin’ yogurt by The Coconut Collaborative. Flavored with Mango and Passionfruit, it just sounds heavenly. So we threw that into the cart, paired it with some muesli and we were set for breakfast the next few days. We made sure the camper van fridge was turned on and working and the yogurt stayed nice and cool.
The next morn, I could hardly wait to dig into the tub and to my dismay, found this:
Now, the pic is blurry and it wasn’t taken of the first tub but like most moments when you’re alarmed, it doesn’t occur to you to take a photo. At any rate, a grey, cloudy looking spot stared up at me and I thought, “Oh crap! Mold!”
Behold, we drove to another Pakn’Save and wondered out loud, “Are exchanges allowed in New Zealand?” I learn that they are, but only at the same location. What was purchased at Christchurch must be returned at Christchurch.
The foodie is not quittin’
Determined to taste this yummy goodness, I got a new tub at Timaru and told the nice people at the return counter to just toss that other container. When we got back to the van, I ripped open the new tub to make sure it hasn’t succumbed to the same fate and my bad, there it was again! But it’s only because I never ate enough passionfruit to know that the “grey, cloudy looking spot” was a passionfruit seed! Real fruit seeds in New Zealand yogurt? Get out!
Panicked at this new realization, I remembered the tub that I had them toss away. Can’t have that! My husband *thoughtfully* stayed behind while I marched back to the customer service counter.
The big ask
“Excuse me, I’m so sorry. The tub of yogurt that I had you throw away, can I please have it back?” The woman gave me a, “crazy American lady” look and asked her manager where he had tossed it. They looked into three different garbage bins and finally fished it out. There’s some weight to it and it had gone some distance into the abyss. A sigh of relief swept over me. The manager was very nice and again explained that it can be exchanged at the first location. I thanked them for their extra effort and ran the tub under the faucet with soap.
As I headed out, I waved goodbye, thanking them again. The woman still looked at me funny. And I thought to myself, It’s crazy Asian Canadian lady visiting from America, to be exact.
Back in the car, my husband wasn’t quite hidden from view but was glad he wasn’t a part of my yogurt saving mission. For the next few days, we enjoyed this delish yogurt with museuli and went back for our third tub! It’s one of the most missed food item from our trip to Middle Earth.
If you’re wincing while reading this, you’re not alone. Unless you take pleasure in inconveniencing others, then you’ll likely feel some discomfort. And for a moment, I wondered if I should’ve gone back: I already have another tub. It’s only $6 NZD. She’ll think I’m weird. Is it really worth it? But that, countered with: The yogurt is still good, why waste it? That plastic container needs to be recycled. I’ll regret not going back on the basis of feeling embarrassed.
That last thought got me.
Emotions and values
Feeling embarrassed. That feeling is real but it’s also a fleeting moment. It’ll come and it’ll go. But my value of not wasting food, of recycling when I could is something that will stay. Do I choose an action that will help me avoid an unpleasant feeling? Or, do I act based on what I value, even though I might not feel good in the moment?
What about you?
Within context, what would happen if you spoke up, even when you feel uncertain, embarrassed or guilty over something small, but significant to you? What would happen if you listened more to what matters to you and less to what others thought of you? Will you take up more space in your relationships, in your communities, in the world as you own your preferences, opinions and values and make them known to those around you?
Here at People Bloom, we’re about helping you find your voice, your place in your spaces and your relationships. We want to help you grow. However small we start, the effect is there. Or, if you’re ready to go big, let us know! We want to get you closer to what matters to you.
Ada Pang is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond psychotherapy practice. She helps unhappy couples find safety and connection in their relationship. She also helps cancer thrivers and their caregivers integrate cancer into their life stories. The most embarrassing thing she has ever done is mindlessly walked from the women’s locker room out to the treads area wrapped in a bath towel. Why are people looking at me? What’s their problem?! When she realized the machines don’t look like showers, she promptly rerouted. Running would have made things worse, she thought.