Shopping isn't Happiness

So I made a few new years resolutions one of which was to not shop for at least one month. When I say shop, I mean buying those extras I want but I don’t really need if I question myself that fully. It wasn’t until I got some distance from shopping that I realized shopping had been my way to cope or even numb out. If I had a crappy day it was really easy to aimlessly scroll online stores on my phone and not realize that hours had passed by, in my mind it was simply window shopping where I eventually always ended up buying more things.

If I wasn’t happy with how my body looked or felt I could blame my clothes and just buy more.

The hope was the new stuff would then make me feel better not just with my body but with everything going on in my world. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t like large packages and hundreds of dollars were going out each month but it was the little things like the 4 new work out tops that were on sale for $7 so why get just one.

It came in slowly too so it was subtle.

I was never hit with my problem head on until that month of distance. Looking back it was almost like someone in recover, I had to unsubscribe to all the shopping ads I got- distancing myself from that old crowd I was hanging around. I would casually flip to an online store unconsciously and then catch myself thinking wow what just happened. When I noticed these things that’s when I knew I had to do this, fully stay the course the entire month, shopping had a power over me I never wanted to admit. Which, is mind blowing to me since I didn’t grow up in a family that shopped too much in fact I had what I needed and a little more but nothing in excess so how did I start this all on my own?

Discomfort and pain

I had recently lost my grandmother who was my legal guardian and had raised me my entire life, acting as mother, father and best friend. Looking back I can see the shopping took on a high point when I was sitting in the numbness of my grief and I was searching for any ounce of happiness (serotonin) but all I was giving myself was the unsatisfying short lived hit of dopamine from my instant clocks and buys. But this was all a way to not feel that visceral hole in my chest from grief, it was a short lived distraction.

Shame

Then when the shopping spree arrived at my house, I would feel shame and guilt around shopping when I didn’t really need it. I would feel worse about my body if things didn’t fit right and I found myself trying to hide the shopping from my partner. I felt that ashamed to hide the shopping but yet I didn’t stop to think who or what was really in control here, probably because shopping is a socially acceptable way to cope.

Distance

With that distance I gained from challenging myself to a month of not shopping for anything other than groceries and pet supplies, I began to realize that shopping was more in control than I was. My mind/ego whatever you prefer to call it had gone haywire, looking for short lived happiness and constantly comparing myself to others to make me think I needed this lip product or that top to feel beautiful or happy. That distance shed a lot of light for me and now it is something that I want to make a norm in my life to keep my accountable and to make sure I am not slipping into old patterns. So again I have made April a no shopping month for me and instead I have decided to pamper myself by getting services like my nails done or hair. Other things that make me feel good but aren’t as temporary.

I am overwhelmed by my closet now.

I have become uncomfortably bothered by the amount of clothes and shoes in my closet. It is to a point where I now feel overwhelmed since I know it isn’t even possible for me to wear that much stuff. So in the air of Marie Kondo I have started getting rid of so many things. My own way of reflecting on items is how do I feel when I wear this, for many items I remember feel self conscious or uncomfortable in items so those are going and I am only keeping the things that make me feel comfortable and confident when I wear them. That mean a lot of my cheaper fashion is going out the door and I am saving the space for high quality items and just less of everything like camis, I had 5 white and 5 black camis, I can only wear one at a time so that has now gone to one of each. My next mountain is my love for gray sweaters, I don’t really need the 7 different gray sweaters I own that are overly similar to one another.

Your turn.

So now I encourage you to take the time to think about your own shopping habits, is shopping coping for you? Is it keeping you from feeling your own pain? Are you feeling ashamed about your spending habits or the amount of stuff you have? If so or if you just want to gain some new awareness of your habits I encourage you to take a month away from shopping, only buying your essentials that you need.