The Thing We All Want (That Isn't For Sale)
Not so long ago, I commented on a minimalist’s social media page: “But what if my purchase solves a problem?”
I genuinely wanted to know. Her book included radical ideas, such as Shopping Bans, and I was beginning to see how I’d been falsely justifying my purchases. I’d sold myself on the belief that my spending created solutions. I was fixing problems so that life would be so much better.
Truth be told, life (temporarily) did feel a little better. Shopping does that. Now an outfit had the perfect sweater to complete the look! My living space was one step closer to magazine-ready! I could toast 6 slices of bread instead of 4!
Doing something, felt satisfying. But deep down, the question I posed to the author was my way of facing the fact that I didn’t like my shopping behavior.
I may have been solving a problem. But I wasn’t solving THE problem.
Solving the Real Problem—What You Are Really After
While buying feels good in the moment, it won’t lead to a more fulfilling, meaningful life. Given this truth, when I noticed an uptick in my spending a few months ago, I knew it was time to revisit this lesson.
Buying can be fun. We see something that could brighten our day (or solve a problem) and we give in to the impulse. Shopping produces a physiological response in the brain that leads to positive feelings in the body. We are wired for pleasure. It makes sense that we try to buy happiness.
Yet the thrill from shopping is fleeting. It doesn’t solve the real problem.
Shopping is a surface-level fix for a deep-rooted need that doesn’t exist on a store shelf or catalog. What we really want is not a thing…it’s a feeling.
Those feelings we are after can only be cultivated from the inside, out.
Breaking the Cycle
To feel better, and break the cycle of spending, requires a deeper understanding of what we’re seeking in the first place.
I was looking to relieve boredom by shopping. Other times I was trying to escape my anxiety. My brain was trying to restore order with a purchase.
Other sought-after feelings include:
a sense of accomplishment
a sense of connection
a feeling of belonging
feeling attractive and loved
feeling good enough as a person
a sense of peace and calm
a feeling of freedom and whimsy.
The Lesson to Be Learned (More Than Once)
The lesson to be learned, again and again, is that things do not produce feelings. Feelings can only be created from within.
The next time you find yourself in shopping mode, take a moment to notice how you are feeling. Then ask yourself what you need in the moment.
Chances are, it isn’t the thing in your shopping cart.
Practicing awareness and learning how to meet our basic human needs is a life-lesson that is invaluable. And, in my experience, one we will need to learn more than once.
A connected mind and body, centered and present, allows us to experience our emotions and meet our needs.
Balance is restored.
The pursuit of things corrects itself, all on its own.
P.S.— As a wellness coach, I help women heal by showing them how to create connection, ease, and balance in their lives.
In my program, you learn the basic pillars of health, and together with your physical, mental and emotional cues, we create a customized plan for meeting your goals with ease. You don’t have to go it alone, and change doesn’t need to be hard. It gets to be simple every step of the way.
Start by booking your free consult. We’ll talk about what you really want, a path forward, and your next best step. It's time to let this be easy.