Pret a Manger Part Two: Selfish Intentions Don’t Get You Very Far

Brother and I reaped a bountiful harvest from Pret a Manger simply by expressing genuine gratitude for their generosity in distributing leftover foods to food banks and sharing with us tasty salads.  We sought nothing but to give our thanks to them.  Sure enough, when all we did was say, “Thank you so much,” they gave us even more!

One day during the Street Retreat, I found myself alone.  Brother must have been digging for cookies in Mrs. Field’s garbage or trying to pick up homeless chicks.  Who knows.  Anyway, like Brother, I too had a particular craving for some delicious cookies, and sure enough I stumbled across another Pret a Manger that I knew possessed an abundance of cookies that become trash at closing time.

I remembered the first time we harvested the cookies from Pret and how it began with us saying, “Thank you.”  What I didn’t realize at the time was that we only succeeded in receiving so many cookies because that was not our intention.  Our intention was to simply express gratitude, and then as a bonus from the universe we received enough cookies to rumble in our tummies for days.

Meanwhile, on this second adventure to Pret, I intended to harvest the leftover cookies, and as a means to an end, I knew expressing gratitude was important.   I thought to myself, “Okay – what worked last time?  First we expressed gratitude, and said how much we enjoyed the healthy food.  Then, voila, they offered us two bags full of cookies.  If I just follow the same pattern, the same results should occur.”

What I failed to realize at the time was the difference of intentions between the two visits to Pret.  On the first visit, the intention was pure – simply to express genuine gratitude with no thoughts of reaping a return.  On the second visit, I solely thought of acquiring cookies for myself, and whatever giving I was doing simply served as a means to an end.

So, what do you think happened this second time around?

Well, I walked in – mind on the cookies.  Already, it felt wrong.  Bad vibes!  Nevertheless, I walked up to the counter and told the lady working how grateful I was to her and Pret for donating their leftovers to the homeless.  She said, “You’re welcome.”

I stood there, still thinking about the cookies, and mentioned that last time someone gave us the leftover cookies that they otherwise throw out.  She responded with something like, “Oh, well I’d have to talk to the manager about that, and he’s not around right now.”  She went on, “And usually we don’t do anything like that.”  I stood there awkwardly for a minute or two, attempting to make small talk and employing some reasoning like, “Well, you throw them out anyway, so do you think I can come back and close and grab them from you?”  Of course, in my proposition, I provided absolutely no benefit to her, and she was not interested.  Eventually, I conceded, said thank you once more, and walked out.

I remember holding some hostile feelings towards the lady for a few minutes after I walked out, thinking it ridiculous of her to not willingly give what would otherwise be trash to someone like me.  Then again, perhaps it is betters that cookies become trash rather than someone eats those sugary carb bombs after all.   She was probably just looking out for me!  Or at the very least, she did not dig my selfish vibe.

Lesson Learned

Fast forward five months.  Listening to some words of wisdom from Bob Proctor, he mentions the idea of a double binding message, which is essentially when you say one thing but mean another.  Reflecting on the Pret experience, I realized that I sent out a double binding message when communicating with the girl at the counter.  I said, “Thank you,” but what I really meant was, “Can I have some more?”  Not only did this discrepancy between my words and my thoughts cause me to feel a bit like a corkscrew, but she likely picked up on the lack of congruence between my words and meaning as well.  It might actually have been a whole lot more effective if I simply asked for the cookies instead of insincerely expressing gratitude with an ulterior motive.

To be clear, as I was not with the Pret lady ;-), the intention for these words are most definitely to inform you about the dangers of double binding messages and the importance that you say what you mean!  Even if we think we can hide our intentions with flowery language or rhetoric, ultimately there is much more to our communication than simply the words we speak.  When you speak with a selfish intention, seeking to gain something from another, know that however much you sugarcoat your language, your true intentions will be revealed.  That is why it’s best to think, act, and speak with the intention to serve the Highest Good of All.  Going beyond our small sense of self and opening up to the Good of All is a powerful way for us to become more genuine, more generous, and more understood.  Furthermore, when you support the All of Humanity, Humanity supports you too!

As simple as it might sound – mean what you say and say what you mean.  If you try and do it any other way, you might miss out on the free cookies 🙂


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