Note: This article was originally written for MelangeofWords blog. Check out the original article here: Shopping Addiction
Holly mother of…I just found out that shopping addiction has a term—Oniomania a.k.a compulsive buying disorder! This is getting too real for me right now. Hello, blog addicts! I am Deepa and I own, Nifty Nib. I am here to tell you that you are not alone and I have been sucked into the black hole of consumerism as well.
After excessive pondering, I have come to acknowledge the fact that I am a shopaholic. Well, why not?
We live in the consumer age today. Our consumer culture has shaped us in such a way that it has created the “FOMO feeling” worldwide. You have not updated to iPhone X? You are so ancient. Wearing clothes from last season? Not chic at all. No valuable travel souvenirs and collectibles to flaunt during your house parties? You are an urban poor. No expensive liquor in your home bar? Your social status is going down the drain.
Everyone is literally sweating bricks from anxiety of becoming an outcast and not finding a clique to conform. Look at the number of bloggers and vloggers trying to snag the latest products in the market!
Even if I have to go for a jog these days, I need at least three pairs of sportswear before I make a public appearance. In my posh neighbourhood, people wear expensive brands while they are sweating it out at outdoor yoga or walking their dogs.
So being a stereotypical conformist, I realized I am a shopaholic and decided to find out exactly what kind I am.
For ages, I have been an impulsive shopper, the kind that responds to external triggers. Their shopping is sporadic, unplanned and spontaneous. I do not shop that often but when I do, I erase several thousand off my bank account in a jiffy. A fleeting sensation of thrill passes when I finally swipe the card and purchase new products.
I have a habit of impulsively buying all the clothes off the rack that fit me. I weigh about 88kgs and XXXLs do not show up that easily. So, whenever a store is magnanimous enough to line such clothes up, that is my field day! I have noticed that I have some countable number of attires that I repeatedly wear for all occasions. On any given day, I keep gazing at my wardrobe for hours counting the money I have lost due to impulsive shopping.
I have so many lipsticks, lip-glosses, eyeliners, perfumes, handbags, watches and many others I have stocked my shelves with hoping I would use them all someday. Naturally, for me, there are not many brag-worthy occasions to flaunt my assets.
You see the pattern. I am just stuck in a rut of impulsive shopping and stocking up piles of stuff I will never use. Impulsive shoppers are less likely to think about consequences after buying. They have this insatiable need to acquire something and that is just it.
However, after shopping, I regret for months for having bought an outfit I outgrew or was uncomfortable on my skin or made me look hideous. News, I am also a compulsive shopper now.
Compulsive shoppers respond to internal triggers and motivations. For instance, they plan a day of shopping to get out of depression, stress or anxiety. My ex-roommate was a compulsive shopper who frequently shopped just to avoid feeling lonely. I could not divvy up the expenses so I moved out.
Compulsive shoppers are more likely to experience negative feelings, incur debts and financial problems. They fall into an endless addictive loop of shopping and regret.The next part is going to be painful, grab some ice cream.
Types of Shopping Addiction
Binge shopping or “comfort shopping” when you are emotionally down. People of this kind try to suppress their negative emotions or overcompensate for them with a shopping spree. There was a phase in 2015 where I ended up in a mall every time I was rejected by a date or publicly insulted at work.
These buyers are always on the lookout for the perfect items to add to their collection, as they are perfectionists. During my pre-wedding shopping, I hunted many boutiques just to get unique and distinctive silk saris. I know people with limited edition sneaker collections, wristwatch collections and liquor collections who are still looking for the perfect purchase. They shall never rest in peace.
These people shop expensive items to show off their status and gain considerable prestige. A person in my neighbourhood has eight dogs that should not be bred in Indian weather at all.
These people love to buy when there are discounts and sales. Someone I know has bought enough junk that deserves its own planet.
They are stuck in this never-ending cycle of buying and returning items. A plump relative of mine knows very well that she needs to shop her clothes physically. Yet, she has an account on several online clothing stores to buy outfits and return them, during her vacations.
These people feel like something is missing if they don’t have items in every colour and size of a product category. Tupperware addicts are classic examples. My cousin is an extreme hoarder; she has footwear in every colour to match her different outfits. An ex-colleague purchases domains for every startup idea of his.
Causes of Shopping Addiction
Psychologists and researchers say that the addiction can be due to hormonal imbalance, emotional instability, chemical imbalance in the brain, mental health issues, gender, family history and more.
Some people have a personality trait of compulsive shopping; others seek thrill and excitement when they shop compulsively. When a person has low tolerance for negative feelings he/she shops to feel better. Some shop to seek approval of peers or gain more control of their lives. However, the causes are endless; more analysis and introspection can tell why you are a shopaholic.
Tactics to Handle Shopping Addiction
As a Psychology major, I know enough that to treat an issue or a habit, you first have to understand and acknowledge that you have it. You have to know the signs and catch yourself when you go overboard. Only then, you can intervene.
Have a budgeted-shopping list
Before you decide to buy, write down your shopping list. Do the “want versus need” exercise, review and buy only the necessities. If you are an online shopper, delay your purchase. Before you check out of your shopping cart, review the items. You are less likely to stray when you have a budget and a list. Do not exceed the budget under any circumstance unless it is an emergency.
Treat your FOMOs
The hell will not freeze over if you boycott products or stop yourself from bagging the latest editions. Limited edition options are sales tactics brands use to get buyers to purchase products for ridiculously higher costs. If you truly think about it, any limited edition item is eventually going to get outdated as well. Can it permanently stay futuristic?
You may buy things thinking that you would use them eventually, but you would actually end up discarding them. Listen to your body and mind; understand your qualities. Do not convince yourself to buy something in the hope that you will start a new habit. Not true. My evidences are my green tea sachets, traditional silk saris, imitation jewellery, wristwatches, sports footwear and cosmetics. I did not use any and gave them away to my relatives and acquaintances in the end.
Be wary of peer pressure
Please do not shop with shopaholics. It is better to take a trusted friend out who can check your behaviour and control you when you cross the limit. You also have to sort out your priorities better and not succumb to peer pressure.
An ex-colleague used all her savings to buy cigarettes and drinks but kept cribbing about not having enough money to buy herself breakfast. Her family was drowning in debts and needed her salary to sustain. Every day she bought cigarettes for smoke sessions with her friends. She borrowed money to attend parties and used that money for drinks. I personally feel that to keep a friendship alive, one does not have to indulge in pricey recreation or entertainment. Instead, a healthy breakfast will make one saner.
Handle your emotions
Find other ways to deal with your temptations, boredom or emotions. If you feel bogged down, engage in some activity to feel better instead of shopping. Keep yourself occupied with hobbies other than shopping. If you want to seek approval of peers or gain control of your life, enroll in personality development classes or hire a life coach instead.
Get professional help
In extreme cases, shopping addicts need professional help and medication as they could go bankrupt, incur huge debts or destroy their livelihoods. Analyse your shopping patterns. Are you repeatedly binge shopping? Are you shopping when you are stressed or depressed? Are you unable to control your behaviour? Then it is time to seek external help.
If you are blissfully unaware of shopping addiction, give this article a read. It is a very common problem these days. To treat it, the first step is to be aware of your problem, its causes and effects.
There are several types of shopaholics: hoarders, spendthrifts, perfectionists, discount lovers, compulsive buyers and bulimic shoppers. Mostly, people these days are addicted to shopping because of societal pressure, mental health issues, the need for thrill or lack of control in their lives. There are genetic reasons as well.
- Treat your morbid shopping habit by fixing budgets.
- Make shopping lists of what you need
- Attack your FOMOs
- Handle your emotions and temptations better with personality development classes
- Hire a life coach
- Introspect often to analyse your habits
- Indulge in productive hobbies
- Stay away from peer pressure
- In extreme cases, seek professional help.
Hope to see you on the other end of the tunnel! I know this guide was a bit too long but I wanted to shake your wits until you accepted your flaws. I am sadistic like that. If you want to be more “woke”, check out my blog www.niftynib.wordpress.com. Toodles!