Many of us shop on auto-pilot. Our brains and bodies are not fully engaged in the process, and our awareness of what is happening around us, and within us, is often quite low.
I call this shopping with your brain in neutral.
A dangerous pastime. Firstly for your wallet, but also for your overall state of mind and wellbeing.
Life is to be savoured in all its many flavours, and that can’t be done if you are anaesthetizing yourself to it.
This got me thinking about what the conditions are for our shopping. For my shopping. For your shopping.
Not all of us are “triggered” to shop, where we are compelled or driven to shop out of an unconscious and compelling need. But all of us have conditions around our shopping which may illuminate us to how and why we shop as we do.
So if you’re interested to explore your own shopping conditions, consider these questions:
- What precedes your shopping? You were doing something, feeling something, thinking something, before you went shopping. It’s just that you may not be too tuned into what those things were, and how they impacted the shopping you ended up doing. So it’s helpful to consider what happens in the space before you shop? Consider if there are any patterns to what comes before your shopping expeditions? And take into account everything from your emotional state (bored, listless, lonely, jubilant, aggrieved, whatever it is for you) to the physical conditions preceding your shopping (I’m on the way to somewhere, I have to wait for something or someone).
- What are the logistics surrounding your shopping? Your shopping is happening within particular set of physical parameters, making it either easier or more difficult to shop. So consider where are you in physical proximity to the stores you usually shop in? Sometimes it’s just oh so easy to pop into a store we walk past every day on our way to and from work, or that’s close to the sandwich shop we usually go to for lunch. Perhaps it’s a shopping precinct we drive by a few times a week on the way to the gym, or its a store that’s open at particularly easy-to-access hours.
- Who’s connected to, involved with, or with you when you shop? Who we shop with impacts our shopping, whether that’s our kids, our mothers, or our girlfriends and partners. How is shopping with these folks impacting the shopping you do? Perhaps it’s the length of time you shop (shorter or longer than if you were alone), the kinds of stores you go to (these stores but not those), and the type of shopping you engage in (just looking or actual buying).
- Are there any special circumstances connected to your shopping? Sometimes our shopping (and overshopping) happens only under particular conditions – at all other times, our shopping is under control or at a minimum. Before my year without clothes shopping, I was most vulnerable to overshop if I was travelling, and I remain aware of my shopping behaviours when I travel now. I’ve also noticed that when I have particular guests staying with me that my shopping changes. For example, if I have a friend visiting from out of state, we might go on several shopping expeditions as activities we can do together (like other people might visit art galleries, go to concerts, or go hiking). So consider if there are any spikes in your shopping graph when certain conditions are at play.
- What follows your shopping? Something happens after you shop – you go somewhere, you do something, you feel and think something. So what happens for you after a shopping expedition? And how is what happens in the back end of your shopping a part of your shopping tapestry?