My “harmless” daily virtual shopping trip had all the characteristics of an addiction. I knew I shouldn’t log on to that site, I struggled with it every single morning, but I did it anyway, and then I lied about it – I didn’t exactly share my purchases with my husband!
This article was earlier published on businessdayonline
So how did I start on that path?
First of all, I love shopping. Not everyone enjoys shopping, but those of us who do will know what I mean. Browsing through merchandise, looking at beautiful items and picking a few that will become yours, bringing them home (or having them shipped), tearing up the wrappers and finding a new place for them. Shopping can be an extremely pleasant experience, especially since I believe humans are hardwired to love shiny new things and feel a sense of security when we surround ourselves with objects.
But shopping can quickly become an addiction, for the same reason any other addictive behaviour becomes an addiction. It is soothing and pleasant and takes your mind off things, but the pleasure is short-lived, and when it tapers off, you want to experience the rush again. The only way to make that happen is to shop more.
Just like any other addiction, being addicted to shopping is very damaging. It is damaging to your finances, that’s obvious, but it is also damaging to relationships, because the addicted person often tends to try and hide her addiction from her partner. And if she doesn’t (or she fails), there’s the tension of “how can you spend so much money on things you don’t really need!”
So how did I manage to get over my addiction to shopping?
I pretty much stopped cold turkey. Obviously, shopping isn’t something you can just stop doing – but you can absolutely stop a habit of recreational shopping. I basically forced myself to avoid logging onto that website each morning.
It wasn’t easy, and I definitely went through a withdrawal process where I sorely missed my daily ritual. On the other hand, it was freeing to not feel as if I needed to hide things from my husband anymore, and it was also freeing to not have to find a place to all those new items, or send back the ones I didn’t like.
When the monthly credit card statements started to arrive and I saw the financial savings, it felt really good – just as good as buying stuff, if not more so!
These days, I still shop online, but it’s not a daily habit anymore. I only log on when I actually need something, and then I make sure I buy that item and avoid browsing for more. It’s still a struggle, and some mornings I still think about logging in and browsing.