In my last posting, I introduced the idea that the current downturn might just be a tipping point for overshoppers, that its economic pressure might shake them out of denial and drive them to begin stopping overshopping. That they do so is essential, because compulsive buying is a square peg for a round hole, an inadequate substitute for (or a distraction from) the fulfillment of unmet needs, whether emotional, social, or spiritual.
But powerful habits die hard. Although the shopping habit cannot in the long run meet your needs, it can bury them for a time; it can give you short-term relief, despite its debilitating long-term consequences. And relief is what overshoppers are reaching for, though they may not know yet from what.
The best foundation for resisting the shopping urge is a personal stance of self-kindness. That stance—bringing home the care, respect, and good intentions you give to others—extends to actions as well as attitudes. Last time, we began listing Acts of Self-Kindness, behaviors that fill particular kinds of needs and are healthier than shopping. Out first category was Action. Now let’s look at two more categories. (These lists are examples. Use anything that sounds good, and think up another half dozen acts that are particularly tailored to you.)
Spontaneity: For many overshoppers, the delight is that you can do it on the spur of the moment. The internet, catalogs, and television shopping channels are right there at your fingertips, 24-7. Even many stores are open whenever you get the urge. If you especially love being spontaneous, what else might you do ?
• Head out to the all-night diner at 3:00 a.m.
• Stop in the public library in the afternoon.
• Go for a walk on the beach.
• Turn on the radio and dance in your living room.
• Pop in on a friend.
• Take a walk in the park—and climb a tree while you’re there.
Relaxation, Lounging, Taking It Easy: Rather than hustle and bustle, is gentle relaxation what you need? Is this why you find yourself zoning out in front of a shopping channel or wandering onto eBay? What else might do it for you?
• Watch a video in bed (a nice, easy bit of fluff).
• Listen at home to an audiobook.
• Lie on the couch and listen to some soft music.
• Get a chair massage.
• Hang out on your porch.
• Make yourself a cup of tea and sip mindfully.
• Do nothing: simply be.
Already, you’re beginning to assemble a list of important ways to be kind to yourself. When the urge strikes, try the things on your list instead of shopping. Those that work particularly well probably suggest something about what your real needs are. In the next posting, we’ll continue to explore the many possibilities for self-kindness, this time in the area of sensual joy.
Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence.