Often we have a dysfunctional relationship with shopping, its more common than you think, so let’s explore the cause of this behavior in-depth
I was once told a story by an individual about how growing up their father would buy them nice things from expensive stores because he was always feeling guilty for breaking up the family. This individual was a child of divorce at the time. The father would do this all because of his personal feelings of inadequacy. He felt he had failed his child and was trying to make up for it.
This in turn taught this individual to shop, and they continued to turn to shopping during difficult times as an adult and when their own marriage was under strained.
This individual did this to fill deep voids of insecurity and inadequacy with purchases, which of course never works, at least not for very long anyway.
Over the years I’ve been told many of these types of sad stories; and witnessed the results of this destructive “retail therapy” for myself.
It can break up marriages and end relationships faster than you can say “50% sale”.
So here are a few points of advice that can help you sort out that complicated relationship with shopping, without going broke along the way:
Resist powerful marketing messages
Much of our longing for material possessions comes from the marketing messages that are constantly hammered our way. They drill it into us the message that if you buy this product, whether it’s a new car or an anti-aging face cream, you’ll feel more complete. One more purchase and all your pain will be taken away.
The longing for love, safety, security and belonging – it’s all related. People walk around with such sadness and pain it does sometimes feel like, “Maybe I can fill the emptiness with these things,” the promise that things will feel better or that you’ll be transformed by it.
Educate your kids to do the same
Become more self-aware; be able to resist advertising messages and media.
For example advertising doesn’t affect me in the least, and that’s partly because of my father, not only due to my profession. His own scepticism of marketing promises, which he demonstrated by swearing at the TV during commercial breaks, rubbed off onto me and I’m thankful for that.
You need to be able to pass on those self same critical-thinking skills to your children, especially in a country where its way to easy to obtain credit.
Beware of internet browsing
We’re so surrounded by consumerism; you can buy things with one “click”, be it on your cellphone or online. Especially because of the Internet, it’s just nonstop as Google punts those adverts at us.
It makes it just that much harder to resist hitting the purchase button.
The 24-hour rule
To help resist that kind of casual shopping, follow a few simple rules:
- Don’t let yourself buy anything at the first pass.
- Give yourself at least a day to think it over.
- During that time think about the purchase, get a clearer picture in your head about what you’re actually after.
You’ll be surprised at how many times you’ll probably skip the purchase altogether.
So in simple words, “don’t be impulsive”.
Re-evaluate your relationship with shopping
Reflecting back on where your shopping attitude derived from (was it self-taught or learnt from a sibling, parent or friend?) can also help you become more self aware of your current habits. For example, if you view shopping as a form of fulfilment. Then maybe you can direct your search for fulfillment and meaning elsewhere, like taking up a hobby or participating in a charitable organisation. By reviewing your relationship to shopping, you can stop it from having so much power over you, and it can help you to examine what the underlying issues are.
Know that you’re not the only one
As I mentioned the individual and their story at the start of my article, who demonstrated such a complicated relationship with regards to shopping, is not an unusual occurrence.
It reveals the truth behind the fantasy we have about what’s out there, that most people are normal and don’t have issues. When in reality, we’re all really connected in that way; most of us do have complicated relationships with shopping.
Therefore OUDS is willing to assist consumers in this predicament with a free service of a financial assessment, assist the consumer to organize an affordable, realistic and structured monthly budget and debt management plan thereby providing consumers with a guideline for eliminating and remaining out of debt.