It has been a long, crazy day with work, and kids, and to do lists. You stop in at the grocery store for one last errand before you can finally head home. You only need about three things and have it planned out how you can run in, grab them, use the express check out, and be back in the car in under 5 minutes. Everything is going smoothly and following the plan until you get to
the check out.
The lady in front of you has followed the “ten items or less” rule, but she has a stack of coupons that she is sorting through for every one of those ten items. You glance down at your watch and know that your 5-minute plan has been ruined. You ask yourself, “Why is this allowed? Surely this is against the rules. How can they call it an EXPRESS lane if they allow things like this in the same lane as me and my three items? Couldn’t this rude lady have chosen a different lane? Certainly a good cashier would have told her to go somewhere else. Can’t they see that I am tired and just want to get home?”
As you watch the seconds tick by on your watch, you can feel the frustration growing. But, what can you do? Maybe you can openly and angrily voice your frustration and disapproval to the coupon lady and the cashier. Maybe you can snatch your 3 items back off the belt and storm off to find another lane making your feelings obvious to everyone. Or, maybe you just stay in line, with a few sighs and huffs, and after you leave, make it a point to tell everyone you know how this cashier and coupon lady ruined your evening.
I am sure that there are at least some parts of this scenario that we can all relate to. The question is, would any of those reactions actually help anything? And honestly, the only thing it would help, is for us to see that you “Got Stinky Thinking.” But rest assured, you are not alone. In fact, there are members of the Stinky Thinking Club around you every day.
So what is Stinky Thinking? To put it simply, Stink Thinking is when you think or tell yourself things that are foolish and untrue. It is when we allow faulty or irrational thoughts to take over instead of focusing on the facts of the situation at hand. Do you spot any foolish, faulty, or irrational thoughts in the example above? For one, I do not believe that our “coupon Lady” decided to get in your express lane to be rude to you or to ruin your evening.
And while it maybe did cause you to extend the arbitrarily set 5-minute limit, let’s look at a few other facts. First, she did at least make sure to follow the posted “ten items or less” sign. Second, there are not any other actual rules or restrictions concerning the use of the express lane. So, has she really done anything wrong? Are those extra few minutes really going to cause any sort of negative or catastrophic consequence to you?
You have been running all day, what is three more minutes really? And hey, maybe you could even pay attention to or ask questions about the discounts and coupons that she is using and find ways to save yourself some money as well. And just like that, just by changing your thoughts, this rude, crazy coupon lady can turn into a positive, money saving genius to you. Stinky Thinking is something that we all struggle with at times. Some may struggle more than others, but nobody is immune to having faulty or irrational thoughts creep in. The goal is to recognize when these stinky thoughts appear, and change them. When you find yourself in a situation like our example, you can learn to take that breath, ask yourself, “what are the facts,” and turn that Stinky Thinking into Good Thinking.
So the next time you are stuck in traffic, or your spouse forgets to fold the clothes, or your child yet again loses something, watch out for that Stinky Thinking. With just a little practice and work you can make that Stinky Thinking Club a thing of the past.