While walking through a large local discount store recently, I was struck by the While walking through a large local discount store recently, I was struck by the

The Power of Conscious Shopping

Woman picking out applesWhile walking through a large local discount store recently, I was struck by the urge to buy things that I had not originally come to the store to get. The item I was shopping for was not on the shelf, and the similar items held no appeal for me. Still, I was somehow drawn toward displays of odds and ends.

I noticed a thought creeping into the back of my mind, saying,“Hey, maybe you could use one of these–it’s not that expensive.” It was difficult to walk away, though I wondered what the attraction was. Is it just the sheer volume of merchandise that makes it impossible to walk out the door without seeing something you want?

I think there is something else at play here: a desire for power. Our society is obsessed with material goods and wealth. Many people do not consciously strive to be rich, but there is an inherent belief among most people that they would be better off and generally happier if they had more money. Many of my wealthier clients would argue against this myth. Be that as it may, I think that there is a brief momentary “sense” of power when we make a purchase – whether or not we can afford it.

People with shopping addictions can attest to having many other anxieties. But shopping temporarily helps them feel “in control,” even when they rationally realize they are out of control. You do not have to be have a shopping addiction to fall into this trap, and our modern advertisement-infused society can hypnotize you into buying without thinking.

Here is an idea: when you decide you don’t want to purchase something, or they are out of what you’re looking for, say to yourself, “I’m taking charge of my life by deciding not to buy anything today. This is a powerful decision, and I’m happier because of it.” You may find yourself less stressed and spending less time in the returns line at your nearest big box store.

© Copyright 2010 by Hans Sieber. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • M. Brown

    December 7th, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    this is a very timely article, what with Christmas around the corner. I’m going to try your suggestion

  • Tyla J

    December 8th, 2010 at 5:37 AM

    And the stores with all of their pretty displays just suck you right in, up until the time that you get to the cash register and they are asking if you would like to save even more by opening up a charge card! Those are the times when I want to scream that we have enough debt as it is. I know it is not their fault- they are only upselling as a part of their job but we have got to be very careful about letting ourselves get dragged down that road. We have to dig out, not go deeper, and this time of year is so hard to study that lesson but it is timely indeed.

  • tiara

    December 8th, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    this has happened to me a lot of times and this is especially harmfum if one is tempted to buy food stuffs as it cripples their diet too…i seriously think that the way things are arcanged in stores make it hard for people not to go in for things that they didnt come for originally…

  • Hannah

    December 8th, 2010 at 10:33 AM

    I just get pulled like a magnet whenever there’s a discount and when there are offers for loyalty card-holders in stores of garments…I absolutely love buying clothes :)

  • Christine

    December 9th, 2010 at 5:47 AM

    I am an addicted shopper and I freely admit this. The thought of going shopping and getting a good deal on something will give me a rush that I know has to be similar to what a drug addict or an alcoholic must have when taking that hit of their drug of choice. Shopping happens to be my drug of choice. I have tried many times to quit but I just can’t help myself. I have even had people hide my car keys from me so that I could not drive to the stores but somehow I always find a way around that too. People think it should be so easy to just cut up the credit cards and quit but it isn’t. There are always new cards to get, new ways to get my fix.

  • Roy Huggins, MS

    December 27th, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    It’s also useful to become aware of how companies market their products. In modern society (in most of the world), learning to understand how advertisers and retailers manipulate is very adaptive. And this learning doesn’t mean you have to stop buying things. It doesn’t even mean you have to resist being influenced. But it does help empower you to get the things you actually want or need.

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