Have you ever walked into your closet, art room, living room or any room in your house and thought to yourself, “Where did all this come from?” Have you ever opened your bank account app and wondered why your funds weren’t what you expected due to multiple excursions to your favorite shops or online stores for something you just had to have? Know this, you are not alone!
Many times, we can find ourselves shopping to meet a need, not because we want or need something. We impulsively purchase the item(s) and we aren’t always sure why we do this. We rarely check in with ourselves before venturing out to a store or online to “browse”. We tell ourselves all kinds of things and end up convincing ourselves we really, really need this item(s). We finally realize there might be an issue with what we are doing because someone brings it up, say a friend, relative or spouse, our funds are short and we may not be able to pay a bill, our credit cards are maxed out, or some variation of these.
What we fail to realize and possibly become more self-aware, we don’t shop because we need things; we are shopping out of emotions. I’m talking about emotions like boredom, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, hurt, feeling unworthy, etc. All emotions we don’t want to have and shopping is supposed to meet those emotions, but in the end, they only are fleeting happiness or satisfaction…shame or guilt then follows and we feel no better. Now the pressing question is: what do we do so we don’t emotionally spend and end up feeling even worse about ourselves. Creditcards.com has a list of why we might over spend. It is a very good checklist to follow. I will break it down for you, which I hope aids in understanding some of the triggers that lead to emotional shopping.
- We shop to protect our image that we have built. Basically we care what others think and believe we have to live a certain way for other’s to like us. Hello false sense of self-worth.
- Spending up to our income level. Say what? Let’s put it this way; we get a raise and spend more money just because you can.
- The emotional high of spending or a false sense of happiness. Our neurotransmitters in the brain ping during the emotional high letting us know it feels good. Unfortunately it’s not lasting.
- The need to feel more powerful or in more control.
- Immediate gratification. We need it right now.
- We want to overcome past problems or avoid them.
Part of not emotional spending is checking with yourself. If you are trying to meet the above needs, then it’s probably a good idea to walk out of the store or close that Internet browser. So we’ve identified ways to why we emotionally spend but what do we do now? I’ll lay out some ideas below, but of course they aren’t all inclusive, just basic guidelines.
- Know your triggers. Check in with how you feel emotionally.
- Change the habit of shopping to meet emotional needs and find something else to take care of those emotions.
- Track what you are buying for a week. Are you buying art pens when you have a drawer full? Check what you say to yourself to justify those spending habits.
- Stop and think before you click buy or get into your vehicle to run to the store. Literally say aloud or to yourself, “STOP.” It will feel goofy at first but it has been known to work.
Remember this, you are not alone. Many of us have behaviors that help us avoid those emotions that we don’t want to have. It is time to clean out the emotional clutter and move forward.