Garage Sale Stress

August 3, 2016

garage-sale-stressSeveral weekends ago, I had the opportunity to participate in my first garage sale. My best friend decided to clear her house of all its contents to make way for a new start after a long and stressful divorce.

Not knowing exactly how this was going to play out, I had certain fantasies of smiling, happy shoppers wheeling and dealing. What I got was hordes of people nickel and diming for everything not nailed down and, as you can imagine, no smiles. My stress level and anxiety were through the roof and this experience became the perfect opportunity to use my DBT skills, especially my Interpersonal Effectiveness skills.

Interpersonal Effectiveness (IE) skills are used to help us become more effective in communicating in order to have interactions with outcomes we want. They enable us to make and maintain relationships, resolve conflict when it occurs, and get our wants and needs met in a balanced manner. The three main skills include DEAR MAN, GIVE, and FAST.

DEAR MAN is used for getting your objectives or specific goals met and stands for:






Appear confident


GIVE is aimed at maintaining or improving relationships with another person, while we try to get what we want in the interaction.




Easy Manner

FAST skills are used to help maintain your self-respect when you ask for what you want or say no to a request.


Apologies (none unless warranted)

Stick to Values


When I noticed myself getting dysregulated and judging the scene, I attempted to stick with just the facts of the situation instead of viewing my assumptions and judgments as truth. The result of this looked like, “a lot of people want to buy things at very reduced prices” versus “OMG, these people are out of control.”

By using facts, I was able to use my IE skills to be more effective working with the hordes of never ending crowds. For example, I used GIVE skills when I spoke to individual customers and treated them in such a way that it shifted how they treated me. I noticed that the kinder and more patient I got, the more kind and patient many customers got, which resulted in a positive interaction. Even for those that didn’t shift their attitude, I noticed that I was still able to remain calm because I reminded myself that I was not in control of others and “it is what it is.” There were certain situations where I felt attacked by customers and I had to use my FAST skills to know when I could tolerate those instances and when I needed to stand up for myself.

There was a common goal that we were all working toward, which was to move the product. Whether we were on the selling or buying end, the skills helped to alleviate some stress, and effectively meet our goal. I am happy to report that I survived my first garage sale, which will actually be my last.

Categories: Life at OPI