Do you ever find yourself in the midst of a really bad day and all you can think about is a new pair of shoes?
For me, I use to see shopping as a reward or a treat - a little bit of retail therapy to help me feel good about myself after a long and very hard day. The rush of dopamine after finding a bargain would coarse through my veins and for a brief moment I would forget what ever was weighing me down!
I would live out a fantasy life that I created in my head. A new pair of shoes to complete a work outfit and I would instantly feel more confident and sophisticated! I would become that sharp, elegant woman of my dreams. I became fixated on bags, shoes and bags that were shaped like shoes!
But this isn’t healthy behaviour and it can lead to a financially troubling and emotionally tough path ahead!
I used retail therapy as a cure-all for any time I’m feeling unhappy.
You see, for so many of us we have become very good at avoiding difficult feelings and retail therapy can serve as one big avoidance technique.
We all talk about our feelings, especially women, to anyone who will listen. We analyse, pick apart and justify our feelings yet we rarely sit with ourselves and really feel them.
Many of us are afraid to feel our emotions, afraid of the pain, feeling like a failure or afraid of not having it together and loosing control.
We chose to ignore these feelings by distracting ourselves with shopping. We might calm down, get alone time or treat ourselves for a brief moment when in actual fact this is just a band aid solution.
We become numb to our feelings. And we will never learn how to overcome these challenges because we bypass them by taking the first exit into the nearest clothes store.
I am not trying to insinuate that everyone who occasionally shops to cheer up has problems. Retail therapy doesn’t have to mean “buying clothes, makeup and shoes” the way we assume it does. I know plenty of people, men included,who purchase furniture, fancy alcohols, DIY tools try make themselves feel better.
But, if you find yourself browsing rails at every lunch break, maxing our credit cards or living for pay day maybe its time that you detox?
I do understand though - we all need a little pick-me-up now and again, but shopping can’t and should not always be the answer. Go for a walk, call your mom, go the gym or read a book. Just don’t keep swiping your credit card to feel better. It’s just like compulsive eating or getting drunk, it will not actually make you feel better in the long run.
When you ignore your feelings and try to cover them using clothes (or other material things) you are not actually fixing anything, but it feels good enough momentarily to justify doing over and over. Thats why we keep doing it!
Next time you find yourself shopping when you are sad, pick yourself up and head to a near by park, coffee shop or just walk.
Sit with your feelings and truly allow yourself to feel and process what happened to alter your mood but just don't ignore them! I find journalling incredibly useful because it encourages me to confront and nurture my emotions, which are never usually as bad as you might think :-)