How to change your life (radically) at the grocery store. (Guest Post)

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The following delightful story was written by Mika J., a long-term client of Command Z. He wrote the story shortly after doing an exercise from the Radical Undoing 101 Course. Thanks to Mika for his boldness and willingness to dive into his own life and start experimenting! Good work at trespassing your limits, Mika. -Garrett


Last spring I had one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

It happened when I did an adventure from the Radical Undoing 101 Course called Go to a Grocery Store, originally from Dr. Claude Needham’s book , The Just Because Club.

This exercise goes as its name suggests, with just one twist: you do the whole visit as if you don’t exist.

You enter the store when someone else triggers the door, and then just walk around and spend an hour in the store–without touching anyone or anything. After the hour ends, you sneak out the same way you entered, letting someone else trigger the door before you exit.

When I did this exercise, I was just roaming around for the first thirty minutes or so thinking, this isn’t doing anything, what a waste of time. 

I was feeling a little unnerved, like an outsider, because I wasn’t behaving as people in that situation are expected to behave. I got suspicious of the store employees in their uniforms, wondering if they would notice that I was just creeping around. I was afraid they’d catch me for breaking the rules.

They were just ordinary people doing their ordinary mundane work, but I felt like a criminal in the presence of police officers. They were the authorities in that space: if they suspected I’d stolen something, they could call the police and draw negative attention to me. I became more aware of how I always get tensed up in the presence of “authorities” of any sort, even if there is no rational reason to be cautious.

Then, at some point after the first 30 minutes, things got very weird…

I was now not only seeing the employees differently, but the customers transformed as well.

It seems impossible to me how quickly and radically my perception of other people changed. Suddenly all I saw were robots. No more free people, just customer robots running a very deliberately programmed “At the Grocery Store” software. They all seemed to be behaving in the very same way, like their programmer knew exactly what he/she (who exactly?) wanted them to do.

Every robot guy and girl with their shopping carts and baskets were running around in a trance state fulfilling their noble duty of consuming. Moving and proceeding quickly, as the grocery store is no place for just hanging around and enjoying yourself. Of course the concerned consumer robots may spend a moment looking at the label before making their decision. The working of the software was clearly visible: Pick the product you need, move on to the next one, get out as soon as you’re done. Good job!

Before I left I was feeling pretty damned separate from everyone. They were playing their software faithfully, too busy to pay any attention to me. I was left outside their awareness, wondering what the hell was going on. I was observing the customers very carefully, but no one seemed to notice me. I even saw an acquaintance I expected would say hello, but he didn’t seem to register that I was there right before his eyes.

I snuck out of the store, feeling relieved and surprised at what had just happened.

I’m not claiming that I’m better or more enlightened than the other people who were there that day. What I do claim is that I had a very unusual perspective on what was actually happening there. I’m probably just as robotic when I do my grocery shopping, though now I may have become a little more aware of it.

I had already known–in theory–that when you bust loose from from your own trance state, it becomes more apparent how hypnotized everyone else is. This was my first direct experience of that phenomenon. What surprised me was how quickly and easily I could create a shift in my perception, and how bizarrely real it was.

I don’t know how or why this exercise works, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that if you do it, it will work, and you will get your results. You can experience something truly new and interesting for yourself by just going to a grocery store. It costs you nothing, and takes less time than watching a movie, so why not give it a try?


Garrett here again. Wow, what a great story, Mika! Thanks again. Next, you can watch the original video from the course so you can do the exercise for yourself. If you do, and you enjoy it and want more expansive experiences, check out the full course.

Here’s the video:

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