First name only. That’s how twelve-step program meetings begin, right?
Stating who you are, your pain and your truth.
Well, I am swimming in my pain, acknowledging it, owning it.
My truth is literally piling up around me.
My name is Dafina & I’m addicted to the stuff, acquiring stuff, and saving stuff for later.
I feel like it takes a strong woman to admit that she has too much stuff, and an even stronger woman to take action to purge and stop bringing stuff into her space.
Now I’m not a hoarder, but I have way more than just the essentials in my physical space.
What’s the problem with having a lot of non-essential items?
The problem with unmanaged physical stuff is that it is often a representation of unmanaged emotional stuff.
I wonder if I looked back at my dairy and pegged that against my Amazon order history or credit card transactions, would I see more increased spending during periods of emotional highs or lows?
I recently ordered a new notebook from Amazon to keep track of such things, but I get confused by which of the four journals I should be writing in when I am experiencing all of these emotions and shopping. ← This is a symptom of the problem.
Truth be told, this is not a new realization, this addiction, for me.
Like they say, once an addict always an addict.
What defines an addict?
An addict is someone who practices the art of self-deception.
I identified shopping problem several years ago, but back then it was mostly around shoes and clothing.
I was working on Wall St. and was living at home with my parents while I saved money to purchase my first condo, I was saving, but also spending and shopping.
Just about every week I was coming home with a new bag filled with shoes, tops, pants, dresses, suits or a skirt.
My justification: I had to look the part of my Assistant Vice President, Electronic Trading Technology Project Manager & Business Analyst required.
Honestly, the clothes helped me keep the imposter syndrome at bay and feel like not only did I belong at the table, I should be sitting at the head of it. In all reality the shopping just allowed me to mask and put off dealing with the underlying emotional issues that triggered my shopping.
When I was happy I spent money, when I was sad I spent money, celebrating, lamenting, and all the occasion in between included spending and food.
When I last experienced the awakening to my addiction, It was because my clothing closet was bursting at the seams. You know the image of someone splitting the hanger and leaning on the clothes on one side, while pushing on the clothes on the other side, to get the newest purchase into the space created. Yeah, that was me.
Is it easy to spot the signs of addiction?
Today, what I noticed is the number of boxes I have surrounding my space.
Some with that smiling arrow looking at me like I should be happy with the stuff I just acquired. Others with a logo-clad tape.
In all, just as I sit and write this I see three such boxes in my home office, and I know there is another three downstairs.
The thing is I can’t remember what the heck came out of any of these boxes, except for the baby wipes. Those are a necessity and have now doubled as my evening make-up remover towel, because… they work.
And the stuff that came out of those boxes.
Were they needed or wanted?
Was it just the simplicity of one click-buying and the two-day shipping that made them so easily show up in my space blocking me from the real work that I have to do?
The idea of driving to a store and searching the aisle for something that may not be there is idiotic to me, however, the contrast of having ANYTHING available at my fingertips is equally disturbing.
So it’s time to pump the breaks and do like Michael Jackson said – Make That Change
What do I do if I realize I am a shopaholic?
The last time I needed to stop consuming, I set myself on a shopping diet. I had enough to wear and enough things that I didn’t like to wear, so I was only allowed to buy an essential if needed.
For this situation, essentials were: panties, socks, bras.
I didn’t have an extreme habit of purchasing makeup, or jewelry, or anything like that so I focused on clothes, the biggest culprit.
Initially, I decided on a 30-day Shopping Diet. I recruited a friend as my accountability partner, and I took my major credit card out of my wallet. I would need to purchase everything with cash, taking money from my saving to pay off a credit card bill was not allowed.
If I went to a store I had and was feeling like the urge to purchase something was coming up for me, I’d call my friend before I sealed the deal. There were a few slip-ups and I promptly returned the items.
No matter when the shopping urge hit me, I would go with it up until the point of purchase.
Sometimes, I would take note of the cost of the items, and I was then required to transfer that amount to my savings account or pay off an existing debt (I had a small student loan and credit card balance that I was tussling with) other times, I just guessed.
Even if this meant filling up my online shopping cart with items and them closing the browser window complete to shut down the urge for more new stuff.
How can a shopping-fast help me?
It went well and after the initial 30 days, I extended the fast for another 60.
At the completion of the 90 days, I had paid off approximately $9,500 in credit card and student loan debt.
Subsequently, I had gotten used to telling friends that I didn’t want to go shopping, that at the end of the 90 days, I no longer enjoyed shopping.
You read that right. I can no longer stand to go into a store and go shopping.
Additionally, I had been researching the psychology of marketing in malls, retail stores, and supermarkets and learned that the marketers were exploiting human physiological and psychological traits in order to get us to purchase (more).
For example, did you know supermarkets put the fresh fruit and vegetable sections at the store entrance because we are psychology more likely to over purchase and not have lists for the fresh fruits and vegetables we need/want and with this initial personal ok for overspending, they are banking on you doing it throughout your shopping experience and associate the behaviour with doing something good for yourself/your family.
Online shopping provides a different set of psychological and physiological triggers.
But I am determined to clear my spaces of stuff and move into a state of essentialism.
I am not looking to be a minimalist, that is just not the lifestyle I am capable of, personally. However, an essentialist is one who only requires and lives with the essential items of life, no fluff, no storage units, no boxes in the attic or basement.
I am writing and sharing this with you so that you can hold me accountable, and if you know you need to join me on this journey, let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So here it is, today and I am kicking off my shopping fast with my 12 Steps To A Shopping Fast.