Shopping and Self Worth

I’ve ruminated on thoughts for some time to find the connection between emotional shopping and self worth. I think the two connect, if not in the moment, certainly in the aftermath of what emotional shopping leaves behind – clutter.

We may shop because we are sad, lonely, offended, stressed, worn out or a number of other emotions we need to escape from, and in the moment the thought of having that new thing sounds refreshing or finding that great deal is exciting, but when we get home the thing we bought loses it’s newness and becomes one more thing to find a place for. Collectively these purchases become clutter, which plays on our self worth. “How did I let it get this far? Why can’t I clean up enough or keep up with the laundry? Why is my house always a mess? Look at all of the money I wasted. What will people think of me if they see how bad it is?”

We doubt our abilities and play this lie in our minds that everyone else is doing it better so we must be at fault for falling short to keep up with whatever standard we have of cute and tidy. We find ourselves trapped in home piled with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. We think we should hide it, so we only allow ourselves to find the solution alone, within our minds and let’s face it, we say things to ourselves far worse than we would ever project on another human.

God never designed us to live a life chasing things. Jesus said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mk 8:36) I’ve always left that verse for the upper class and corporate America, but I fear that when we hit the stores with an agenda to solve an emotional battle, we risk the same outcome.

Shopping for little treats or with an “I deserve” mentality are sure signs that you may be shopping emotionally rather than intentionally. Anytime the thought, “I deserve ____________ (to be happy, to celebrate, to cheer up, a break, to relax), so I’m going to buy ___________” comes through your mind or out of your mouth, take a step back to evaluate what is really happening. When someone states they deserve something, they are also implying that something else is not deserved. For example to say, “I deserve to cheer up.” may also mean “I didn’t deserve to be wronged by someone I love.” And yet even though the two prior statements make reasonable sense, somehow it’s more common to hear, “I deserve to cheer up, so I’m going to buy myself a new outfit.”

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine to buy a new outfit and find joy in having it but when something is bought as an emotional fix and then justified that we are making the purchase as a form of self-care, I do believe we are believing a lie. What is actually happening is that we are ignoring the solution. You are worthy of a solution. You are worth real change. “I deserved to be cheered up because my best friend let me down” is not corrected by retail therapy. Instead, conversations need to be had to mend the relationship. You are worth having the problem corrected and if the other person is not willing, you are worthy to know that you need to set boundaries in that relationship. What you deserve is to not be treated poorly by someone you love. Know your self worth and claim it.

Another example is the statement, “I deserve to relax, so I’m going to shop online.” Saying I deserve to relax may also mean I don’t deserve to stay overly busy and that would be true. Shopping online will not make you less busy. In fact, once those boxes arrive on your door step, you’ll find that you’re more busy as you add the new item into the circulation of things within your home. If you deserve to relax, then you are also worthy of finding a way to reclaim your time. No amount of shopping will accomplish the solution.

Think about it this way, if an alcoholic came to you and said she deserved a beer or two after a long day of work, you’d know quickly she was wrong. You’d also probably assume there were some underlying issues that needed to be confronted. It’s quite similar when we use retail therapy to soothe our emotions.

I thought a lot about where we’ve landed with all of this since 2020. People at home, scared, lonely, saddened with access to instant gratification through online shopping. If the pandemic had happened in 1990, what would we have all done? We’d probably have a whole lot less pandemic purchases that now need to be reconsidered. Every morning, I wake up to collect eggs and throw pellets at my 2 Covid Chickens that I may or may not have bought last April if it hadn’t been our first month in quarantine.

These two are our second flock and we had planned on getting chicks soon, but the kids and I used that purchase to have something to do while we were sitting at home like we weren’t sitting in a house full of stuff to entertain ourselves with. When I was searching, and I mean searching, because chicks were a hot ticket item in 2020 (if you didn’t know), so many people were doomsday prepping as they began to give credit to their farm house decor adopting chickens and goats in case our economy crashed. But what people who have never had chickens don’t really know when they are buying chicks in a panic is that you won’t get eggs for 1-2 years and one meat bird is only one meal.

So many of us bought things on half knowledge and half truths in 2020. Do you own a bidet now? Because I do. I’m thankful that 2020 stretched our minds to accept alternative ways of doing things. It’s exciting to hear about the small businesses that actually bloomed out of last year because they developed solutions to problems we didn’t know that we had, but anyway back to shopping a self worth.

Let’s not mistake self-care with self-soothing. When we panic shop or splurge because of emotions, we lose site of our priorities. Questions like, “How is this thing going to assist in the functionality of my home?” Or “How is this thing going to help me have more time for the people I love?” Or questioning as simple as, “Do I have specific plan and time to manage this thing?” gets forgotten. Those are important things to consider to break the cycle of clutter. They say that time is our greatest gift, and I believe that stuff = time and valuing time = valuing self.

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