Today I share with you 5 life lessons I extracted from doing a car boot sale. It was a rather fascinating experience. I had never done a car boot sale and was not particularly delighted at the thought of getting up at 4:30 am to prepare. But in the spirit of openness, I said yes and at 6 am found myself in a multi-storey car park at Brighton Marina. It was a blustery day and I really wished I’d opted for a duvet day!

Interestingly, the thought of purchasing second-hand clothes was always a ‘big no no’ where I grew up. If you ever wanted to disrespect someone, you’d tell them, ‘your mum shops at Oxfam’. As juvenile as this may seem, remnants of this thinking still impact me today. I’ve never worn second-hand clothes and tend to only charge into charity stores to drop stuff off. I’ve never eyed up the goods or brought any wares.

Yet, for many middle-class people buying second ain’t a thing. So why is it that people with less, have a need to demonstrate more? While those with more, have little need to ‘display their wealth’. The answer is probably tied up with working-class aspirations, feeling of inadequacy, overcompensation and a strong desire to demonstrate that, ‘I’m ok and I’m not suffering’. So, ‘box fresh’ merchandise it is.

If you watch the video, you’ll notice behind me 2 white removal vans. These were the big players and I watched them empty their vans with a household of contents. From beds to a washing machine and wooden cabinets. As I spied up the goods, laid out in rows and rows of cardboard boxes, it looked like they’d ransacked someone’s home. That’s when the tall broad-shouldered man told me, this is a dead man’s corner. House clearance removers for when someone passes away. On that bright chilly autumn morning, buyers rummaged through the boxes looking for goods to buy. From cups, cutlery to incontinence pads, it all had to go. The owner had gone and their belongings had to get gone too. On that autumn morning, many eager buyers were looking for a find.

Car boot sale: Psychology is everywhere

This car-boot day was going to be long. A time check revealed it was only 8 am and the ordeal would finish at 2 pm. By 8:15 am, I’d eyed up all the other sellers’ wares and had no desire to reach for my purse. At 8:30 am I was ready to go home. 

So, I sat in the open-boot chilly car waiting and mindlessly scrolling on my phone. A lacklustre digital experience of bouncing from Facebook, Insta, WhatsApp stories and emails.

Bored, I decided I had a choice, go home or embrace the process. It was at this point I decided to sell. Besides, I didn’t want to lug the gear back home again. My selling skills made people laugh and I had no shame in my game. When 2 pm came upon us, I had had a great morning. The part of me evoked in this novel experience wouldn’t have been expressed if I stayed stuck in front of my telecommunications devise. Life is funny, we spend so much time pursuing material goods and at the end of the day, it all ends up in ‘dead-man’s corner’ being auctioned away.

So, what’s the positive take away? Here are 5 I observed:

Car boot psychology1. Be open to new experiences

Give new things a go and notice what happens. Your comfort zone is your stagnation zone and if you desire change, new experiences will reveal more about undiscovered parts of your character. What new experience is calling you?

2. Material goods or experiences

Take heart, someday all your worldly precious goods will end up in a car boot sale. We can’t take our fancy fandangles with us. Experiences, however, can’t be boxed up and sold off, they’re ours to keep (so to speak). Do you have a dream destination you’ve longed to visit? If so, what’s your biggest reason for saying not going?

3. Get involved: Go hard or go home!

If you commit to something new, roll up your sleeves, dig in and give it some welly. That’s exactly what I did when I started my market stall style selling. In getting out of my comfort zone and touting for business, I realised I didn’t care about people’s opinions of me – I validated myself. I didn’t care if I was ignored. I was focused on getting one single punter to buy. Plus, I made such a racket and made people smile that we ended up with a small crowd around us. They ended up buying and the extra bonus was having a laugh, friendly banter and seeing smiles.

4. Life is not about stuff
It’s about the experience. Mind-altering expensive experiences that provide a new opportunity to discover different aspects of self – you have no idea who you really are.

5. Stop the mindless scrolling
Our devices are deliberately addictive. Have an experience, leave the phone at home and connect with your fellow human beings. Loneliness and isolation are real. Ironically, so many of us are suffering alone, when the simple fact is getting up and getting out is incredibly good for the soul.

So, what about you? What new experiences do you need to say yes to? Where in your life do you need to exercise more nos? So many of us want change in our lives, yet we’re frightened of the unknown. We want to stay in control and opt for the familiar and this is a massive part of the problem.

In short, your relationship with fear has a profound impact on the quality of your life. The antidote to fear is fear, stepping out into the unknown, trying new things and letting go of what no longer serves us. Change is not easy and being stuck is hard. Ultimately, you have to decide to what aspect of life you feed – faith or fear.

I’d welcome your comments on this post. When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone or embraced a situation?

As ever, I am here if you need me. There are many ways you can work with me, remember my optimistic friends – there is always a way, so do schedule a no-fee fact-finding call.

Keeley Taverner is a well-respected psychotherapist, author and coach. If you have been inspired by this article or would like to interview Keeley for your publications, please do get in touch.