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27 Jul

Are You Using Shopping As An Emotional Crutch?

With online shopping being the most convenient way to stay on trend or quickly snag that sweater you’ve been eyeing up, it can also be easy to go a bit overboard with your spending. Of course, there is the undeniable necessity to replace old items and even revamp a tired wardrobe, but how much of what you’re buying is simply to solve some sort of emotional discomfort?  

If you’ve found yourself buying more than you need or even regretting every time you add something new to your life, below are a few ways to tell if you’re using shopping as an emotional crutch.   

You Shop When You’re Sad Or Stressed 

If you’re going through a tough time at school, work, or even with your family and friends and you’re first instinct is to buy something new, then you might be using shopping as a way to solve your problems. Unfortunately, new purchases can’t do that, but what they can do is give you that hit of dopamine you need when feeling particularly down, which is exactly what you’re going after.  

Ever notice that burst of energy and excitement when finally holding that thing you’ve been coveting for months? Yeah, that’s your brain giving you a signal that you’ve won in some way, accomplished a feat, but that doesn’t last forever. Soon it will wear off and you will be looking for that rush again—the shopping will never end at this rate! 

Take a step back and notice if you’re shopping happens out of necessity or if you just get the urge after a stressful day. This can help you determine whether you might need to suspend your online accounts for a short amount of time, just until you can really tap into what’s affecting you.  

You Often Return What You Buy 

At some point, you might even convince yourself that what you’re buying is a necessity; That it will serve an important purpose in your life, rather than just simply satisfying that need for something new and shiny. However, if you find that you’re buying a lot and returning most of it, then you’re probably pacifying an emotion that is trying really hard to come out. If you’re taking these items home and nothing ever looks or feels right, then it might not be the items that are wrong, it might just be your current mindset.   

If you spend more time going back to the store or printing out return shipping labels, then it might be helpful to sit down and write out what the next items you want to purchase are for, how they will improve your life, and if you will be okay if you didn’t buy them. This can be a simple, yet effective way to bring your true emotions to the forefront before you unnecessarily spend any more money.  

It’s Only After Browsing Instagram Or Pinterest That You Have The Urge To Shop  

A big culprit in the incessant need to shop is social media and its capabilities of convincing you that things aren’t quite right unless you have something that your favourite influencer has. Don’t get me wrongindulging in something you’ve been eying up for a while or treating yourself to a luxury skincare item is completely fine and important from time to time.  

But it’s when your self-worth hinges on what you see being portrayed through your phone. You should take a step back and consider what it is you are internalizing when you get the urge to shop based on social influence. Is it envy? Insecurity? The need to curate the perfect life with the accumulation of stuff? Maybe you just need something new to make your time feel like it’s passing faster than it actually is. All those are valid emotions and should be recognized and accepted, but maybe not always validated with your bank account.  

Most Of What You Buy Is Similar To What You Already Own 

The simplest way you can tell if you’re using shopping as an emotional crutch is if there is no purpose to the things you buy. Your purpose for shopping could be to treat yourself, but if you’re spending money on items you already own just for the sake of getting that dopamine hit, then maybe it’s necessary to lock away your credit cards for the time being.  

This isn’t to say that everything you buy has to have a utilitarian purpose, but there should be a reason behind it other than simply helping you ignore your feelings for a short period of time. Whether you like it or not, whatever is eating away at you will be there for a while if not fully acknowledged.  

So, if you’re feeling uncomfortable with the way you’ve been spending your money, take some time to really ask yourself how you’re doing in order to get to a solution that is more satisfying and much less expensive.  

Katerina Eleftheriou
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