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The Symbolism of what you Buy

Updated on October 16, 2012

Your shopping addictions offer clues to what you really need.

There is really no need for you to get in that store today. There are so many bills to pay and so many dreams to save up for. But there you are perusing the aisles of Bloomingdales, searching. You found the perfect bag. It's perfect. A sense of peace overcomes you. Yes, that is the bag. This is it. If one could have a soul bag in the same way people think they have soulmates, then yours will be this one.

You check the price. Yikes. But this is the one. You make a computation in your head. You make excuses. You make a decision. It's the wrong one. But you have the bag you never knew you wanted. You are just so happy. The happiness will last two weeks before remorse sets in. Then you'll actually feel bad. It will not necessarily be because of the bag in your head. No, that one was worth it. But you will feel bad because of your general helplessness to divert your funds for the things that you are truly aiming for, things that will make your life better for good.

Shopping addictions are symbolic of the psyche's need to immediately have the relief from an internal feeling of deprivation of true desires. Many people would buy too much of one thing at the expense of other needs. Why? The things you horde are temporarily filling up holes that was created by an unexpressed or frustrated desire.

A great example would be Designer bag addiction. Designer bag addicts spend thousands of dollars to fill a typical emotional need. The cost of designer bags does not serve as a deterrent, rather it is part of the thing you are buying. Your bag is where your put our wallet,your cellphone, your mints and spare sanitary napkin. Things that you bring around with you wherever you go that provide little necessities. Your bag is your little home outside your home. Bags represent something more to these people than a place to put things in. They are also symbolic of the baggage people carry around wherever they go. A Designer Bag addict in particular, is addicted to the perception of an elevated status. Particularly when they are around social groups that they perceive to have status.

A woman who desperately goes through one designer bag after the other is really buying envy. Because she envies status. While one or two designer bags may just be for the purposes of fitting in, a constant stream of purchases of designer bags is a cry to be recognized and respected, to be looked up to. A woman like this dreads the feeling of being average.

By channelling the energy to activities that fulfill the psychological need for being exceptional, the need for one designer bag after the other will abate. Knowing what you really need to be looked up to, will help you channel (not Chanel)that destructive baggage into motivation. The motivation to really be an exceptional person. To be it instead of to have it.

Other Classic Buying Addictions and their Symbolic Psychological Need

Jewelry - The need to be seen as beautiful. Jewelry directs the eyes to the face. An addiction to jewelry is a symbolic need to be noticed as beautiful. Real jewelry addicts and accessories addicts only differ in what kind of beauty they want to project. Real jewelry addicts adds pedigree to the mix while accessory addicts want to be perceived as young and beautiful. Losing weight if you're fat, attending to your health to have clearer skin usually does the job better. That or maybe you need to dump your boyfriend to look for one who appreciates you more for who you are will do the trick.

Make-up - The need to hide. People who like to put on heavy make-up are usually very private and very shy. They are really about not letting people see what's really there. Surrounding yourself with people who celebrates your unique charm will help you get comfortable with your real self.

Shoes - The need to be perceived as sexy. If Sex in the City character Carrie Bradshaw and Imelda Marcos both had major issues with particular men and sex. Women who are shoe addicts are also struggling with intimacy issues. It doesn't matter what kind of shoes they are addicted to, the kind of shoes only points to the kind of men and sex they're after. Shoe addiction will be cured by a commitment or a baby.

Home Décor - The need to feel at home. Home Décor addicts invest so much money and time on their homes because they are buying the concept of a happy home life, a happy family. As a matter of fact, most single people of a certain age have beautiful homes. Making your space beautiful is not exactly the same as constantly redecorating. An excessive addiction to home décor means you are seeking to fill the emptiness of your home, or home life.

Home is where you feel you are accepted, loved and comfortable. A person who knows she has these will decorate her house to reflect what she values. A person who does not feel at home in her own house will constantly remodel it. The best cure is to accept, love and be comfortable with who you are. It's to know where and to whom you belong to.

Books - The need to know oneself. Most book addicts are seekers. They seem to be researching on who they are. Book addicts buy books they cannot read or do not have time to read. The book purchase is symbolic of filling a self-curiosity. The cure for book addicts is self honesty, meditation and, well actually reading those books you already have.That, and a library card. You won't symbolically acquire self-knoweldge but actually know deeply what moves you.

Technology - The need to be progressive. A person who constantly upgrades phones, computers etc. needs to combat a dread for slowness and being behind. The need to have new technology all the time is an attempt to symbolically acquire advancement in life. It is symbolic of the desire to have it easier. Technology addicts usually are very busy people who barely have time to slow down. They are usually rushing to the next thing to get to the next level. Slowing down means there is no progress. The way to cure technology addiction is to focus on being a pioneer in your field, one who sets the pace. That, or just simply progressing in the areas of your life that you feel should progress instead of symbolically relieving it with technological toys.

Clothes - The need for a good self-image. Clothing addicts are really buying self-image. When a woman spends a disproportionate amount of money on clothing, that means she is buying liking the way she sees herself. To be fashionable is one thing--a good thing. But acquiring more clothes than necessary or more than she can afford is symbolic of the desperate need to see the self in a better light. Being that person instead of looking like that person will cure her of the addiction.

The rule is, don't fill the emotional holes with things, just fill it with what its calling out for.


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    • ceciliabeltran profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      Hi Gypsy Willow!

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Wow! so glad I came across your article which I can see as a mirror of my behavior. Now I understand my behavior better it will save me heaps. No more bags I don't need. No more beautiful shoes I cant walk in. At least I read all my books (well almost!) Thanks Celia.

    • ceciliabeltran profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      Thanks Jill, guilty of the same thing!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      I must confess to being a book addict. My favorite store is a bookstore and I almost always come out with another book every time I visit one. I'm just happy to tell that I do actually read most of them. Most is the word there! Hahaha!

      Thanks for this fine read Cecilia.

      Voted up and useful!

    • ceciliabeltran profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      well you know what they say, your relationship with your spouse is really your relationship with you externalized. Sorry, I am too much, even I can't stand the interconnectivity of all things in my head sometimes. Hence, I write about it so I can stop thinking about it.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      If that's true about my shoe choices for such a long time, than I was in the same "wrong" relation that I am now - married for over 25 years:-))), but you are right, my marriage has evolved and so did my choices for shoes - it went from exciting to comfortable he,he, ha, ha again.

    • ceciliabeltran profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      Hi Petra,

      Thank you for your comment, it is always such a pleasure to know what you think about a topic. I wouldn't call myself an expert in human behavior, but an expert of myself. I wrote this hub precisely because I recognized I spent more than I wanted to in order to feel that I have already achieved goals I was aiming for. Needless to say I know what I buy when I feel a certain way. With the help of Jung and Campbell, I recognized the symbolism of the act of the need to acquire "trophies".

      Shoes...perhaps at the time, you were in a relationship that looked good on paper but was really a pain. Now you are spicing up the same relationship by seeing it in different colors. I don't know, just guessing.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      What a great and most informative hub you wrote, dear Cecilia. This will get bookmarked and sent to a few friends that may need to learn something.

      By no means do I have your expertise in human behavior, but just by looking at myself and others I am convinced this hub illustrates some of the most common problems that people are trying to “resolve” by directing their efforts outside self examination.

      I would not consider myself as frugal, but I avoid shopping any time I can and my emphasis is always on quality and never on the designer label (which is not only overpriced, but also often times poorly made). As for jewelry I only wear bold pieces at times, but often I wear the ones I inherited and have special meaning to me.

      Here come the shoes; I used to buy shoes because they were beautiful and I could not care less for the fit or comfort – so I paid the price of being miserable, but chic :-)) Thank God that stupid vanity is over; now I may buy 2-3 pairs of the same model in different colors and get over with the burden of going shopping again.


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