I’ve grown committed to thoughtful consumption over the past few years. This means carefully evaluating purchases, distinguishing between needs and wants, and feeling confident that what I purchase will provide a great deal of utility or pleasure. Choosing to live this way has been deeply rewarding.
Recently, I was puzzled to notice my growing resentments – that I can’t have a new fall wardrobe, a Sephora spree, or new boots just because I feel like it. The impulse to “treat myself” and deal with the consequences later gained strength.
As I meditated on my craving for mindless consumption, I became aware that my mood had been slipping. It generally does in the fall, when the days grow shorter. I realized I hadn’t been meeting my needs. I’d forgotten the supplements and the light box that help keep me positive. Because I wasn’t caring for myself properly, my brain craved shopping for a quick mood boost.
I am struck by how thoughtlessly we use shopping in misguided attempts to meet our needs. Acquiring the New Something provides a brief boost, a feel-good dopamine hit for our brains, and then, the purchase isn’t really quite right… It doesn’t feel as good as it did when we bought it, and the vague, restless dissatisfaction returns. We start to look for another New Something.
Because the true need goes unmet, the ache is never relieved. Before turning to retail therapy, I invite you to take a moment to consider:
What feelings are you chasing?
What feelings are you avoiding?
What need is unmet?
When will you be ready to truly meet your needs?
-Fran Spillane, MA, LMHC, EMDR Trained
MCS Student Coach