For years I was feeling the need to buy all the latest gadgets, the newest trends, listen to popular music and walk, talk, do and dress like I thought I had to to blend in. I didn’t want to stand out. I got bullied real bad as a child, and when I grew a bit older, I never wanted to be bullied ever again. So I decided to blend in with the crowd. No standing out for me, I was just trying to be as less noticeable as possible, not giving anyone a reason to pick on me. It was working pretty well. I never became really popular or anything, but at least I didn’t got bullied and even made some real friends.
Buying all kind of things gave me the illusion of being happy. I got myself trendy clothes, the latest phones, beautiful shoes and bags, wore all kind of beauty and hair products and spend hours on dying, blow drying and straightening my hair. And yes, I did felt somewhat better when I was looking good, but I didn’t felt comfortable in the clothes I was wearing and having to make sure my hair and make up were staying perfect.
Every time I bought something I was feeling happy for a little while, but the bad feeling always came back. So I had to buy more to feel happy again. Like an addiction. An addiction to shopping …
My addiction to shopping went on for years, in which I spent a lot of money on stuff I never even used. Even while writing this I start to feel bad again. The memory of the compulsive shopping reminds me of times I would rather not be reminded of.
Compulsive shopping, officially called Oniomania, is something a lot of people suffer from. I wouldn’t say it might be as bad as having a problem with drugs or alcohol, but it certainly can prevent you from solving the real issue and it might even get you into trouble (think about debts that you can not pay, losing your job because you feel so bad you can’t focus on work anymore, or even losing your house because you can’t affort it anymore).
So how can you tell if someone is a compulsive shopper?
- They often buy things they don’t need
- They go to the mall to buy only a few items and come home with bags full with stuff
- When people start to make comments about their shopping habits, they start to hide the things they buy
- They can be compulsive about certain items (like shoes or bags) or just buy all kind of stuff
- They usually have a lot of stuff at home with the price tags still attached
- When things get really bad, they might even take a second job to pay the bills
How do you prevent compulsive shopping?
- First of all, go see your doctor and get some help to talk about what’s really going on. Don’t be ashamed, you’re really brave for seeking help and admitting you have a problem
- Pay for the things you buy using cash or a debit card. Get rid of your credit cards
- Avoid sales and don’t fall for the discounts
- Take only a certain amount of money with you when you go shopping and leave all your cards, checks and other forms of paying methods at home
- When you feel the urge to go shopping, go do something else. Go for a walk, exercise, bake or cook something, clean the house or whatever will distract you from the thought of going shopping
- Avoid watching TV shopping channels and catalogs
- Every time you want to buy something, think if you really need it. If the answer is no or maybe, don’t buy it. When in doubt, get out!
What really helped me when I was feeling the urge to shop, was thinking about all those small things in life that made me happy. Genuinely happy, not that fake happy feeling I got from buying stuff.
Some of the things that make me happy:
- The smell of freshly mowed grass
- The smell of rain
- My cats washing each other
- My cats sleeping with me on the bed
- Eating ice cream with a family member
- The smell and colors of flowers
- Sitting outside while watching thunder
- Sitting on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate or tea when it’s raining outside
- A beautiful colored sky
- Getting a postcard
- Animals that seem to be really happy
- A smile from a stranger
- A hug
- Having the giggles
- Blowing bubbles
- A happy song
- The feeling of grass or sand when walking bare footed
- A thoughtful message
- Baby animals
- The safe and comfortable feeling of a warm sweater on a cold day
- The smell of freshly baked bread
Of course, thinking about the little things in life that make you happy is always a good first step when feeling down. Embrace life, and life will embrace you.