Have you ever scrolled through Instagram/online at night and see THE THING that you need to buy, because if you have it you believe your closet/life would be complete? Or promised yourself you wouldn’t shop for any more things, but then you see that something that will complete you, and THEN you’ll stop? Sound familiar? The other night I started searching for the “perfect Teddy bear coat” in camel, and browsed for hours online only to find that this jacket doesn’t really exist, and I won’t be any happier owning it. (Bummer.) At least not long-term. I have bought a zillion things over the years and I swear, the hunt for the item and the anticipation of owning it is always better than actually getting it (which tends to be a let down, honestly.)
A little backstory…
I’ve been a shopper my whole life. I truly love walking through stores, seeing what is new, and I LOVE the thrill of buying new things. Forever it has been my therapy. Feeling down? Let’s go buy something new. Bored? That sweater should spice things up. Happy? Let’s commemorate with a shopping trip. In a nutshell, shopping has been a pick me up, bonding experience, and all around happy place for years. And that’s all fine and good if it makes you feel good (which it does, initially), but the “high” never lasts. There is always something else to buy that will make me happier/more fulfilled. Another pair of shoes, another top, another fuzzy jacket, another SOMETHING that makes me complete.
I’ve never had a problem in that I spend what we don’t have, charge things, or be generally reckless with buying things we can’t afford, but I have felt the urge to buy things almost constantly, in the belief that it will complete me or my closet. Part of this comes from being a style blogger and feeling the need to “keep up”, part comes from habit, and part comes from not knowing how to stop the feelings that make me want to buy and have new things.
If you’ve been around here awhile you know I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching over the past year or so and through that I’ve really looked at a lot of the habits I have and WHY I have held on to them as my identity. For instance, being known as “Target” obsessed, or going there 2-3 times a week and buying things I don’t need just because. Or feeling like if I create the perfect wardrobe, my life will indeed be perfect. The truth is, there is not sweater, pair of boots, cute Fall mug, or new jacket that will make me feel good long-term, that is up to me. I’ve had to dig deep and really see WHY I am shopping and buying, and what gives me the urge to do so. It turns out, I have been using shopping as a crutch to not feel the BIG FEELINGS for years, and I’ve had enough. Can you relate? How many times have you wanted to buy things to make your life better (yet it never lasts?)
I wanted to share what has helped me come to terms with knowing I have a problem, and the specific things I have done to curb my shopping impulses.
Tips on curbing a shopping addiction that have worked for me
- This is going to be obvious, but one of the things I like to do (and have done many times), is to do a shopping ban. That means buying nothing for yourself for a determined amount of time, and sticking to it no matter what. And here’s the thing, your brain is going to fight this every step of the way. It is designed to. The other day I was walking through Wal-Mart and thought, “you know what, I need slippers. I should grab those because they are cheap here and I NEED them.” But you know what? I had to rationalize it all out. I don’t actually need slippers. I can wear socks, or I have a pair of old Ugg boots I can wear. Are they as fun as new slippers? No. But it is more fun to honor my own word and not let my Ego/brain run the show. I’m in a shopping ban right now and it feels extra good to take the option of shopping off of the table.
- Only shop for things that are pre-meditated, never spur of the moment. The key to stopping most addictions (note: not talking about more serious addictions here) for me is to only indulge in a premeditated way. I have done this with drinking wine (which I love, but can be a slippery slope lol.) I’ll say, “I can have a glass of wine on Friday and Saturday nights only.” That way, when things are stressful and I want to pour a glass on a Monday at 4pm, I know I have to fight through the urge and say no, because it is not in my best interest. For shopping, right now I have a couple of items I am looking to grab on sale on Black Friday, and will allow myself or buy only those things that day. Then I am done and can’t shop anymore, no matter what. Or if I am looking for a certain jacket or item, only buying that when I say I will.
- Stay out of stores that are triggering to you, and unfollow bloggers/emails that cause you to shop. This one is huge for me, as I tend to follow a lot of style bloggers who wear amazing stuff that I love. I have had to unfollow many people who I really enjoy because they make me feel unhappy with what I have, especially when I am in a no shopping period. I also stay out of stores like Target and the mall, because I find it is impossible for me to go there and not obsess over things I see. I then unsubscrive to store emails that send sales, because it causes me to want to “grab a deal” when I otherwise don’t need anything. Don’t expose yourself to places and people who make you feel bad or make you feel not enough!
- Something I have learned is that our brains are wired to like comfort and security. They don’t like to feel sad things and feeling uncomfortable, and most of us aren’t conditioned to feel the yucky stuff without wanting to “buffer”it away with shopping/drinking/yelling at our kids/negative self talk/etc. I know when I am feeling the extreme urge to buy stuff, it is not because I really want it, it is because there is something in my life I think will be fixed by having that item. I realize this is getting deep, but just sitting with the feeling for a bit of not doing what your brain is urging you do to is the best ting you CAN do. When I take away shopping for myself I really set myself up to deal with my own issues without the crutch of buying new things. I have to find alternative ways to feel good that don’t involve going into stores. Maybe I am just bored, or lonely, or tired, or stressed? WHAT can I do to fix that that doesn’t involve buying stuff? I truly believe that by staying in the same rut and doing the things that make us feel good and then bad over and over again, we are living a Groundhog day situation and not living to our full potential.
- Lastly, know that you are enough without that new sweater, the perfect boots, or the aforementioned Teddy coat I stalked online for 5 hours the other night. None of us ever need what is being sold to us in our consumer driven culture. We are constantly being sold on the idea that we truly have to have all this stuff to be complete, and that is not true. We have to know that every second we are being “sold to” and marketing is doing an amazing job! Target has told me a million times I need that Fall themed coffee mug, the new top I walk by, or the pretty new decor. It all promises to make your life complete, but is designed to make you feel incomplete, always. I want you to know, you are enough no matter what. You don’t need anything new to be complete and amazing. You’ll actually feel better NOT indulging and NOT buying all the things, because it is more aligned with who you are.
In the end, I am a work in progress, and so are you. And that is OKAY. I still get the urge to buy new things all of the time. I have to internally fight my own feelings, daily, and tell myself what my real goals are and not give in to my old patterns. I have to intentionally shop, go through periodic no shoping bans, unfollow many people on social media that make me want to have things I don’t need, stay out of my favorite stores, and know that everything in our culture is designed to make me feel not enough and that I’m better with what they are selling. It is a process, but stripping away this part of myself that has been my identity for so long as been really weird, yet thrilling. I don’t have to be these things that I have alway been just because it is habit. I can be the newer, more evolved version of myself. And it turns out, I really like this new person! She’s calmer, feels better in her own skin, and doesn’t need Target as much as she thought she did.
P.S. I have included in this post two free guides I’ve written. I wrote all about the uniform system I use to streamline how I get dressed (and helps me figure out what I need and what I don’t lol), as well as the podcasts and books that have relaly helped me dig deeper into some of the spiritual work I have been doing. I hope you enjoy!