This is the last of six posts (scroll down to see all of my previous posts) on how overshoppers can respond to the pressure of the economic downturn with a life-altering reality check. The underlying thesis is that compulsive shopping is a smokescreen, a hopeless attempt to distract the self from (or magically fill) unacknowledged individual needs.
In my book, To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop, I help shopping addicts identify and acknowledge those needs. In these half dozen posts, we’ve explored healthier ways of fulfilling them. We’ve seen numerous examples of self-kind alternatives to shopping, and I’ve invited you to envision specific activities that genuinely address the emotional needs that underlie your overshopping.
Thus far, we’ve looked at six categories of needs: for action, spontaneity, relaxation, several kinds of sensual joy, emotion, and intellect. Today, we conclude our consideration with two final categories of need, discovery and spirit. As always, use anything here that feels right—and stretch yourself to design or discover or invent healthy activities that, unlike shopping, will give you lasting satisfaction.
Discovery: Discovery is a particular kind of intellectual pleasure, one that drives a good deal of overshopping. After all, there’s always something “new” out there, something different, something unexpected that can grab your attention (and suck the money right out of your wallet). Do you fall for the latest, hottest thing? Do you frequently recheck your favorite stores or internet shopping sites for what’s “just in” and not yet found by others? If so, how can you be kinder to yourself and, at the same time, feed your curiosity and/or relieve your boredom?
- Go to a workshop on a cutting-edge topic by a leader in the field.
- Take that course you’ve been thinking about.
- Experiment with something artistic or technical.
- Look into a controversial issue in politics or some other social field.
- Engage in a community service activity or hobby that’s new to you.
Spirit: Are you overshopping mostly to distract yourself from feeling empty or hollow? Spiritual self-kindness helps connect the self to the universe, helps us to see ourselves through a lens less clouded by the storm and stress of everyday immediacies. This may be the most difficult type of self-kindness to design and enact, but give yourself every chance to discover unexpected resonances within. Remember the words of Walt Whitman: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” In what ways might you give yourself this important form of self-kindness?
- Personalize a mantra.
- Pray, meditate, or practice a period of silence.
- Experience the life force that flows through you.
- Walk in nature or a garden, or quietly watch the sunrise or sunset.
- Sit outside in the evening and really look at the stars.
- Think about what you’re grateful for and lovingly count your blessings.
Self-kindness is the essential nutrient for growing measured, conscious shoppers from shopping addicts. Give yourself this gift and be patient. Change is a gradual process, not an abracadabra transformation; there may be occasional setbacks. But each time you choose a self-kindness alternative to urge-driven shopping, you’re rubbing out a piece of the addictive pattern—and making it less likely that you’ll succumb the next time.
In the next few posts, we’ll explore two further qualities essential for gaining control of compulsive shopping: self care and self respect.