Shopping Isn’t The Answer

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

Greetings people!  Welcome to blog #80, brought to you from beautiful downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.  This is my first time in this part of the world, and I’m excited to be here! 

Tomorrow morning I’m a guest on two local TV shows – Good Morning Utah and Good Times Utah, which I am really looking forward to!  (I just hope they understand what I’m saying – the Australian accent being as, er, quaint as it is)…

The photo here is the view outside my hotel window, and I am dying to get out there and explore more of this city!  As you can see, it’s an insanely gorgeous day out there.

Today I wanted to talk to you a little about the emotional ties that bind us to shopping.  The feeling states that have us tied up to consumption – and no I’m not talking about the kind of consumption that was prevalent in the 1800s and was commonly treated by leeching and smelly poultices.  

I’m talking about the triggers that have us bypassing admiration and heading straight to to compulsion.   It’s this that separates out a woman who enjoys (or tolerates) shopping, from a woman who may be a shopaholic. 

Here’s my rundown of the emotional street signs that may signal it’s time to review your relationship to shopping:

  • you feel that the item will make you feel better about yourself.  Much better about yourself.  When I own this bag, those shoes, these jeans – I’ll feel chic, slim, hip’n’happenin’.  No material item can complete you – take this from a woman who accumulated 12 animal print jackets and over 100 pair of shoes (yep – me I’m talking about).  This isn’t theory, people!  What to do?  When you feel a compulsion, a true tugging at your heart (or something in there – it sure aint your brain, we know that) for this item — take a step back.  Engage the part of your brain that asks the really annoying questions (like “do you really need this?”  or “don’t you have one (or two or three) just like this already?” or “have you really just spent 2 entire hours in the 4th floor of Macy’s this afternoon?”).  Listen to that voice of reason.  It’s there to help.  Really. Just try not to answer back out loud. It can alarm other shoppers.
  • you feel you simply cannot walk away from the item, you must possess it.  This instinct is the huntress in us all, but instead of knowing when we’re full, when it’s time to stop and, well, digest – we keep hunting.  We never seem to be “filled up”.  There’s always something more – out there — that we might want – need!  We’re aided in this feeling of constant wanting by clever and compelling marketing and merchandising of new clothing, bags, shoes, accessories.  But it’s not the fashion industry’s fault — the gaping hole exists in us before we even step one foot into the mall.  What to do? If you feel a true physical compulsion to purchase an item, take a moment.  Leave it there in the store and go have a coffee or a Mango Tango Crush with a shot of Wheatgrass.  Better still, leave the mall entirely.  Via the nearest exit.
  • you shop frequently and feel that to not shop for an extended period of time would be painful.  Excruciatingly painful.  I know “my women” by their reaction when I tell them I’ve stopped clothes shopping for a year, and are in fact, over 10 months through the challenge.  Their jaws drop.  Their eyebrows raise.  They over-use the phrase Oh my God!  It’s incomprehensible!  Insane!  Extreme!  Why would anyone willingly put themselves through that, they wonder out loud.  What to do? If shopping has become so woven into the fabric of your life that it’s a hobby, a contact sport, and you can’t imagine life without it – time for a moment of reflection.  A reality check.  A kick in the caboose.  Your life is too important and too precious to waste it shopping, and becoming a better shopper.  Really.

So do I ever feel the need, the pull, of the stores, you may ask?  Since I am dolling out the good oil here, and no doubt inserting many irritating and possibly troublesome thoughts into some brains – you want to know if I’m walking my talk, or talking through my, er, hat. 

Well, yes, I do still feel the pull of the shops.  At times.  Like, when I’m looking through the window at some alluring display of gorgeously pulled together outfits.  Or anything animal print.  I was entranced by a zebra-print broom the other day.

 The other night we were in a mall in San Diego – my cell phone charger had decided that the flight across the Pacific was the perfect time to stop working.  So I needed a replacement and pronto.  Off to the mall we went (which are really different to most malls we have in Australia, but that’s another blog posting).

As we meandered strode purposefully through the shopping centre on our way to Sears electronics department, we passed a store with a lovely window display.  Mannequins decked out in nice-looking gear, like the dress to the left here. 

I found my footsteps slowing as I passed by each mannequin, wanting to check out each outfit in full.  If this was last year and the store had been open and I had not been on this challenge (and I wasn’t being propelled along by a force greater than myself – in the human form of my husband, a card-carrying mall loather – he is definitely the third kind of shopper), I would have been in there in a flash. 

I would have been in that store.  Looking.  Seeking.  Brain switched to the neutral position.  Needing nothing yet wanting something.  Using shopping as a way to fill a need that was beyond my comprehension, perhaps beyond my consciousness. 

So, yes I still feel the urge at times.  I still love clothes (although some of them are becoming disenchanted with me, I can just tell).  But I know something now that I didn’t know before I started this challenge.  And that is this:  Shopping isn’t the answer.  It isn’t even the question.   Although occasionally is it a predicate

The emotional reasons we shop are many and varied.  In Month 4 of the 12 month challenge, we explore this in depth.  Stopping shopping is an extreme response to a self-diagnosed problem.  And best done with a net.  The safety kind.

If you feel that you need to develop a new relationship to shopping… if your life is too important to spend shopping and becoming a better shopper… now is the time.  Make a change.  Think about joining us here and having your own delicious year without clothes shopping.  Why?  Because you’re worth it.  Right?

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