It’s Saturday afternoon and you step out for a quick breakfast with your friends. On the way back, you pass a store, and see the most beautiful pair of shoes. You stop and look. After a few seconds, you know that you have to walk away from the window. The shoes are truly beautiful, but can you really buy another pair of shoes… again? You try to fight the feeling because you are saving for something more important, remember? You can’t shop around like a wild woman now. A little voice inside your head makes you walk towards the door of the shop. You shouldn’t go in, but you can’t stop yourself. Inside the store you take the shoe in your hand, and feel the soft black leather. It feels divine. You can’t help yourself but touch it longer, feeling almost like a pervert in a sex store. As if in a dream, you find yourself asking for your size, and try the shoe on. Damn it, it fits perfectly. You look at the price, and get a mini heart attack. You know that it’s wrong to buy them now. They are so expensive, but look so good on you. You must have them! And you must have them immediately! You pay with your card, and leave. At home, you drop the bags on the floor and try on the shoes. They look fabulous! But soon enough the guilt and regret settle in, and you feel awful for it.
What makes us buy those damn things? The shopping high does. I see it like a drug. Both women and men can suffer from this addiction. It’s a “high” – a rush to your head and stomach. You walk around the flat with the shoes on. You lay them beside the bed at night, and look at them when you wake up in the morning. This high feeling is able to uplift the worst mood, and overcome the strongest anger. It temporarily replaces the bad with something good. But how long does this shopping high really last?
Eventually you’ve worn the shoes for a while, and they don’t feel that special anymore. Definitely, not like the first date you had with them, when you took them with you into your warm bed. No. That feeling is gone by now. Eventually you pass another store in the city and see something that you really like. And oops! There goes that feelings again. “You must have it!” It’s a rush, it takes control over you, your serotonin levels explode, and you feel that this is what you need to be happy for this moment. But to be quite honest with you, this is not a good feeling. This is a sickness! It’s not just about shoes, it’s about acquiring things that you “think” will make you happy. However, the feeling is very temporary. Sound familiar?
This comes from the need for immediate gratification – I want it, and I want it now! Why? To feel better. Whether its sadness or lack of self-esteem, the usual reason is to produce happiness, feel good and special about yourself, fill an emptiness, or soothe anger and stress. There is actually a psychiatric name for this condition. Oniomania – a compulsive desire to shop. It sounds funny when you think about it, but it’s really not. My theory is that the ego makes you think that you really need those new jeans to look good, or those shoes to give you the longer legs effect. But in reality, this will not help. The ego will constantly push you for more and more – being an ungrateful and unsatisfied evil being that it is. To truly be happy and free, you must put an end to this shopping madness. Not constantly “wanting” or “needing” new and better things is the true meaning of freedom!
Speaking from personal experience, there is a way to overcome this. I suffered from this in my 20’s. I bought clothing to feel better. The older I became, the less I needed to show myself, and seek my happiness externally. I have a rule now: If I see something I really want, which also happens to be over my budget, I do not buy it right away. I wait a few weeks or longer. If I still really want it after this time period, then I go to the store again. The strange thing is that usually after a few weeks, when I am face-to-face with my evil-temptation-object, I do not have that urgent need to buy anymore. And 98% of the time, I leave the store with my money still on my account, happy that I conquered this overwhelming desire. Another way I changed my shopping habit over the years is “how” I buy. Instead of buying random clothes and accessories throughout the entire year, I save my money for months, and splurge on 1-special-thing that I really like!
But even with the “1-special-thing” rule, do not make it into a habit. The problem is if you get used to spoiling yourself this way, let’s say every month or two, those purchases will not feel special anymore. If it becomes a usual thing, then it’s definitely not a treat anymore, and the “high”, will not be there. Isn’t it nice to be able to look forward to something? This is training. It is a way of being able to be happy with what you already have, and allowing the “bonuses” to be just that – bonuses in life! I’m not saying that you should not spoil yourself once in a while, but try to keep it for special occasions. Don’t allow a piece of material or metal to rule your happiness and joy in life. Drop the credit card, and step away from the evil shoes. You will feel better later on, trust me, I’ve been there.