We’ve all been there before. That moment when you head to the store to pick up something you need. Maybe it’s a few items – some food, a new pair of shoes, the latest gadget – whatever it is, you have your reasons it is an upcoming purchase. You are feeling particularly confident today because you know there is not only enough, but more than enough, dollars available to you to ensure the store cashier will let you leave with the goods.
You walk into the store, through the parallel security tag scanners, and into the brightly lit room with soft music playing in the background. The space is a giant box with walls decorated with shelf upon shelf of products, covered with signs providing information to help you make your choice. Good thing too, because as you stare at the walls of wares, the row upon row of product selection, the sheer quantity has your mind spinning in confusion. Which one do I choose?
Sometimes the choice is easy – a familiar brand you are comfortable with and trust, the lowest price, the one that is your favourite colour – you grab your item and head on.
Other times you have to sleuth a bit – read the labels, try something on, ask someone for help – before you make your choice based on a well calculated decision to the best of your abilities. If you are like me, you are probably still not completely satisfied with your choice, wondering if you can trust the labels, what they even mean, and whether you could have made a better choice.
After a quick scan through the store and pick-up of what you came for, you turn and head to the cashier to receive permission to leave with the provisions. On the way, you catch a word out of the corner of your eye in bold red, capital letters, spelling out a four letter invocation: SALE.
You get excited. The numbers on the item’s tag have a large difference between them. The percentage is high. You realize you didn’t come here for this. You might not have even heard of it before this moment. But something has you hooked.
Quickly, you start to create reasons as to why you need this. Maybe I will use this in the future. Perhaps it will make my life easier. I don’t really need it, but it is on sale. How can I pass up this deal? You grab two and get in line for the till.
As the cashier scans each item you watch the total, making sure they include the sale you are so excited about. You also run through your own mental check, reminding yourself that you do have enough money in the account. You scan your card, enter your pin, and hold your breath in anticipation, waiting for the screen to give you the green pass – APPROVED.
With a skip in your step you are feeling like quite the powerful individual. With the flick of a card and the push of a few buttons you have successfully invoked the sacred ritual of product passage – transferring ownership from the shop keep to you. A well crafted manifestation of an abundance of goods in your possession. You give yourself a pat on the back and think, “Are we ever clever!”
I hear it again and again, over and over. Not only from other people, but from within myself as well. It is the self-justification as to a recent purchase and it sounds something like, “I wasn’t going to buy it, but I did because it was on sale.” This thought is becoming increasingly alarming to me because each time it is voiced, it makes us sound like robots – pre-programmed to respond in a particular way to a four letter curse word.
Why a curse word?
As you continue to explore your relationship to money, you will find moments when the veil of what is not real falls away and the underlying truth is exposed. In ancient times, people understood the magic of symbol and their relationship to it. Symbol was an integrated part of reality, not some abstraction from it. Symbol was used to influence the world around us. Whether it was the hunt of the past or the skyscraper of today, we have always relied on symbol to create. This is the truth of what is real, behind the veil of the symbol of money.
- a word, phrase, or form of words supposed to have magic power;charm; incantation:
- a state or period of enchantment:
- any dominating or irresistible influence; fascination:
After exploring the above story and the influence of a symbol like money or the word ‘sale’, it becomes easier to see its association to a spell. In one moment you weren’t going to buy anything else, you then read a word or two and suddenly you change your mind and act differently. I consider the difference between a spell and a curse the underlying intention behind the use of it – a curse being of ill intention, causing you to do something you don’t want to and a spell of uplifting intention, like the dissolution of a curse. Watching videos and hearing of the violence people push onto each other during days like Black Friday make the curse of the word ‘sale’ even more obvious.
In our quest for freedom it might be difficult to admit that you are being influenced to act in ways you would rather not – sometimes the programming is buried deep into our identity and it’s challenging to face. You can be certain that billions of dollars are being used to program you and your decisions – it’s called marketing. To the eyes of marketing, you are just a number – a mindless consumer they devote billions to convince that you are lacking and inadequate and need what they have.
I don’t mean to write this to sound like I am free from this programming. I still buy because of the word ‘sale’. I still experiment with ‘sales tactics’ to sell more product – ‘cheaper’ if you buy more, limited time offer, and the like. My intention behind these words is to dispel the curse – to the dissolve the illusion and uncover the deeper truths – the gift within the core of the curse.
The truth is that it is all completely arbitrary, and subjective. You see the sale price and assess the difference from the regular price, not really knowing the usual cost. Sales are supposed to be limited or rare, but they happen all the time. They are used to get us to buy and consume more than we actually need. It’s another spell to increase sales and make more money. If anything, sales give us indications as to how much cheaper these products can be. Rather than being outraged at how much mark-up is added normally, we get excited at the generosity of this once only offer. An offer that we would be a fool, a chump, and a not-so-smart-shopper to pass up.
So what do we do about it?
I cannot tell you what will be the truth of the matter on
this for you; those are your own observations to make and share. There are, however, tools I can provide that will assist you on this journey.
- Practice asking yourself whether you truly need what you are thinking of buying. Needs shift and are completely personal, honour where you are at, it’s okay to treat yourself and others.
- Observe your thoughts and actions and how they shift when you read signs in stores. Become aware of how the spells influence your internal environment.
- Be present with your purchases – before, during, and after. What are your thoughts as to why you are making the purchase? How are you feeling about it afterwards? Do you actually use it? Is there a deeper need the act of purchasing is meeting for you?
- When you make your purchase, what are you saying ‘yes’ to in that process? You are saying ‘yes’ to all of the people, systems, and processes that contribute to the creation and transportation of the good, including the transformation of the Earth into the actual product.
Does the word ‘sale’ have to be a curse?
Like all curses, there exists within the core, a gift. The core of a ‘sale’ is meant to be a win-win-win scenario. The customer wins by receiving more to use or to pass on to others and by giving more to those responsible for creating. The seller wins by giving more of their gifts to the community and by receiving more financial support for their services. The third ‘win’ is for the entire community, the whole, because everyone feels good about the sharing, support, and enhanced abundance of gifts for everyone. How many of your purchases feel like ‘wins’ all around?
Exchange becomes a celebration of relationships.