If You Steal My Parking Space, It’s Because You’re Hypnotized

Here in New Jersey, it seems that everyone wants to be first. I see that while driving, walking, shopping. And try to get a parking space? Fuggedaboudit. I see it in business, too. There is a friendly-but-aggressive way we go about advertising and promoting, and it is also palpable on Facebook. Try a new approach, then see it imitated or duplicated by a local competitor or colleague.

Living in the great Northeast, wanting to be first comes naturally because it is a survival instinct. In this part of the country there are about 930 people for every square mile (on average), so we are sharing limited resources. Survival of the fittest means getting to the table first. It also means getting a seat, an express lane, a shopping cart, parking space, cashier, customer service rep, place on a queue, you name it, FIRST—so that you won’t be last. (If you have any doubt about this, just try cutting into a line anywhere in urban New Jersey or New York.)

This cultural phenomenon is actually a hypnotic effect. We believe it, we live it, we pass it on to our children. Your children are amazingly astute, especially up until around age eight. You can’t fool them. They see and hear EVERYTHING. They know when you are sleeping, they know when you’re awake. You can talk to them about how important it is to be kind, loving, and generous, AND they know when you are cheating, cutting someone off in traffic, lying, rationalizing & justifying, and slighting someone so that you can be first. They hear what you are saying, and they compare it with what they see you doing. Guess which makes the deeper impression!

You were a child once, too, and that is exactly how you learned. You used all of your senses to take in all available information, and then your subconscious made decisions about how you would be in the world, how you would act, strategies for emotional and physical survival, how you would love and be loved, and how much you would succeed. It’s all in there, programmed, in the back of the back of your mind, way in the back. Your subconscious is acting on your behalf, separate from your conscious desires, and sometimes in conflict with them.

I can’t say enough about being kind, loving, and generous. Also forgiving, patient, and tolerant. These are all things that cause us to live longer, happier, healthier lives, and knowledgeable health practitioners all agree about this. Be an active, responsible, fully participating member of your community, and you are more likely to avoid heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, and a host of other maladies that rarely existed in the 19th century.

Being first is deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, especially in New Jersey, the most populous of all 50 states. It’s how we are, it’s what we do. We are hypnotized. That means we have this as a deeply held belief and we will continually do this behavior until we start to practice other behaviors on a consistent, frequent, and regular basis. You can change anything if you think it is important enough.

So: next time you are rushing, trying to be first so you won’t be last, you might just pause for a moment to practice Patience and the other virtues. We say that giving is good for you, but I like my mother’s reason for being nice. She taught me and my brother and sister that being nice is its own reward. It’s simply the right thing to do.

As for me, I’m from New York City and I live in New Jersey. I don’t need to be first—as long as I’m next!

One Response to “If You Steal My Parking Space, It’s Because You’re Hypnotized”

  1. James…you are an awesome writer. This is a wonderfully insightful article. Anyone who reads it will most likely take lessons from it.

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