If you are a shopping lover—compulsive, habitual or for pure enjoyment—it can be hard to change your ways without a plan.
Whether you participate in a “no buy” challenge, cut up your credit cards, or go cold turkey; without addressing the underlying thought patterns that are driving you to shop, denying yourself the act of purchasing can be a stressful undertaking—almost as if you are punishing yourself. And when you turn to others for a bit of help, well-meaning advice may come in the simple phrase, “just don’t buy it”.
The reality is, those who do not have the same tendency to shop do not truly understand the deep craving that is burning within you.
How to Tame the Desire to Shop
As with just about anything, when caught up in a moment—the heat of the moment—taming the impulse to act can be difficult. In your case, overcoming the desire to shop is the beast that needs to be tamed.
So how do you do it?
You train yourself.
Sounds simple enough, right? But don’t worry—I know that it isn’t. I understand that it takes more than a click of the fingers.
When faced with temptation, the desire is real. It is strong. All your mind can see is the end result and the misnomer that giving in will make you happy. That is, buying the dress, those shoes, or the fabulous purse, will make you happy. And on one level they do, till the moment passes and you are faced with the credit card bill.
It is important, however, to recognise that this feeling is temporary. It passes when you move on to the next task or activity.
When you shift your attention onto something else, the desire dissipates.
Urges and Cravings
Urges and cravings are the results of thoughts that manifest as desires. By taking a moment to questioning the thought before you click that infamous “BUY NOW” button—or take an item to the store counter, you have the opportunity to break the spell and change you behaviour.
Train Your Thoughts
Train yourself to question the “I want to buy this” story before actioning the purchase.
By asking yourself these 5 questions before each purchase, the consequence—whether short or long term—will be clearer to you.
Ask yourself about the thought:
- Is it true?
- Can I absolutely know that it is true?
- How do I react? What happens when I believe the thought?
- Who would I be, or what would I do without the thought?
- Turn the thought around. Ask yourself if the opposite thought is actually more aligned with what you want in the long term.
If faced with the thought: I want to buy those shoes – Question the thought and get clarity before you purchase it.
- Is it true that I want to buy those shoes?
Answer Yes or No only.
If No, go to Q3. If Yes, go to Q2.
- Can I absolutely know that it is true that I want to buy those shoes?
Again, answer a Yes or No only.
- How do I react and what happens when I believe the thought that I want to buy those shoes?
- Who would I be, or what would I do without the thought that I want to buy those shoes? If this thought had never occurred to me, what would I do in this moment?
- Turn the thought around. Ask yourself if there is more truth in the opposite.
“I DON’T want to buy those shoes.” How much truth is there in this statement as opposed to I want to buy those shoes?
You may find in yourself genuine reasons like:
- I don’t want to buy those shoes because:
- I already have shoes that work for me
- I can’t afford this right now and prefer to spend the money on getting my debt down or start saving for retirement
- I’m just browsing online because I’m bored
As you learn to question the impulse shopping thoughts, you will find that the consequence becomes front and centre in your mind’s eye and you are able to refocus your attention on the financial consequences that you want to create for your life long term.
Ishani Noble is a Chartered Accountant and Mindset coach that helps individuals whose shopping habits impacting their finances and relationships to understand why they overshop and how to stop.
If you are ready to change and want an experienced guide to show you how to stop and change this in your life, reach out for a FREE strategy session for us to discuss your particular situation.