I was talking with a client recently about why people are buying so much toilet paper. I meant it seems crazy, right? Hand sanitizer makes sense. Maybe even rice and beans, but TP?
But it actually reveals something significant about human nature.
SURVIVAL BEHAVIOR BEGETS SURVIVAL BEHAVIOR
When someone gets scared, it scares other people.
From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense.
If I see a lion, even if you don’t see it, becoming scared may keep you alive.
You’ll be alert, you’ll look for what’s scary, you’ll be ready to run.
But expanding on a large scale, it causes problems.
I’m scared I’ll run out of TP. So I Buy ALOT!!!!
You see me buying it, or you notice the shelves are empty, you wonder . . .
What does she know that I don’t?
If everyone does this, there won’t be any left.
Maybe I should buy some too.
Maybe I should buy A LOT too.
It doesn’t take much time before there’s no TP.
And from there it grows. People can’t get TP.
So they are aware of not being able to get it.
Their confidence that there is a grand system designed to help them wipe their butts with a familiar brand with a bear or an angel on it is SHAKEN!!!!!
They get more scared. ANY TP THEY CAN FIND BECOMES LIKE GOLD!!!!
Fear begetting fear begetting fear.
This isn’t actually extraordinary. It’s normal. You see this every day.
Your friend has a bad day, so they get a bit crabby, they’re being crabby to survive their bad day, to help them get through it.
But you don’t know that. So you’re all like, “what’s their deal?” and so you get crabby too, to survive their survival behavior. Then your friend is like, “Why are they being such a jerk to me? I’m having a lousy day!!!?!!”
You can see how this goes.
It happens all the time.
It’s incredibly human and routine, it’s just that right now you get to see it. In the empty shelves of no TP, absurd and also totally understandable.
For me, this is what this time is all about. We get to see the fundamentals of human behavior.
Things that exist at a level 1-3 but our awareness are not at a level 5-8
The opportunity for us to notice and see if we can remember that when our friend is crabby, they’re just buying too much TP even when they don’t need it, and we can have a little more compassion for them.
And also to remember that when we make mistakes, it’s ok. We’re just scared too. We don’t have to be committed to it. But we can learn. We can apologize. And we can practice being calm, confident, and compassionate when others can only feel the fear staring them in the face.