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Shopping Addiction | How to Shop Less

Updated on October 7, 2012

© Copyright 2011 Tracy Lynn Conway with all rights reserved.


A Woman's Guide

I used to love to shop just like many American women. We are born into a culture of believing that no matter what is wrong, a certain pair of shoes will make things right. We are led to believe that keeping in style is important and appearances are everything. The culture perpetuates this, the media supports this and women compete with one another for having the newest and latest fashions. But in the end this goal is empty and unfulfilling. The thrill of shopping, buying and owning a new pair of jeans, shoes or handbag is short lived. We are then drawn back to our source of pleasure by purchasing more jeans, shoes, handbags or whatever else we think we need or want at the time.

The way to break the cycle is to realize that it is a cycle which functions as a trap to keep us from discovering ourselves. Behind the shopping and the clothes is a person with other interests and aspects that will never be discovered.

In Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose”, he describes this desire to the accumulate possessions under the heading of “Ego.” He explains that our ego thrives on attaining things and tricks us into thinking these things define us. A brand of jeans says we are “hip”, a certain car denotes wealth or style, but underneath the jeans and the car is a healthier self waiting to be discovered. The ego keeps us trapped in portraying something, but this something is a facade. When we break free of this cycle we override this ego driven thinking and start to live a true life.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t dress in style or drive a nice car but it is the obsessive consumer driven mentality that makes it problematic. Finding a true life involves exploring interests, getting more involved in relationships and seeing that there are other dimensions to life beyond shopping.


The cycle goes like this:

  1. You go shopping. This is pleasurable since the ego will get its needs met.

  2. You make a purchase, now the ego is on a complete high.

  3. You bring the item home and still the ego is enjoying the new status symbol or fashionable item

  4. The high starts to fade. The thrill is ending

  5. It is a matter of time before the ego will want more again

This is the shopping cycle trap that many people cannot escape.

Range Rover sells the rugged "off road" image with a $70,00 price tag.  Most drivers will never take their cars off road, they are merely buying the image.
Range Rover sells the rugged "off road" image with a $70,00 price tag. Most drivers will never take their cars off road, they are merely buying the image. | Source

Advertisers understand this; they realize that they are selling to your ego. They will sell you a pair of jeans with an image of sexiness, a car that makes you look rich or maybe portray you as the rugged off road type. They are selling you an image that your ego desires. Your ego wants you to have this status symbol and will often stop at nothing to get it. This can be why people end up shopping and spending money they don’t have.

It is not your fault, ego exists in all of us. When the ego is driving our choices we will live an unfulfilled life, caught up in competing with others and never get to know our true selves. When we spend a great deal of time shopping or thinking about shopping, we focus on what we don’t have and never appreciate what we do have or take the time to see who we are.


How can we cure this ego driven way of life?

Here are some tips that will help you get away from ego driven shopping and start living your own life:

  • Stay away from stores unless you really need something. When you shop try to stick to items on a list and leave the store when the list is complete, no browsing.

  • Focus on other aspects of your life, like your career, hobbies, interests (not shopping) and your relationships.

  • Understand that when you focus on appreciation there is often little room left for ego; they don’t cohabitate well. Start by setting the goal of appreciating 5 things when you wake up and 5 things when you go to bed.

  • If you have kids you can start them on a life of appreciation by having them talk about the things that they appreciate. You could make a habit of sharing this at a certain meal, while driving in a car, at bedtime or anywhere that it can become a daily habit.
  • Realize that change will take time, if you always felt that shopping and acquiring stuff was a life goal then switching over to deeper and fulfilling goals will take time.

When we stop caring about possessing an item that is for sale we can enjoy it for its beauty. If a beautiful diamond ring is for sale we can simply admire it for it’s beauty and workmanship and not need to own it. This is an aspect of appreciation that begins to direct us toward a simpler way of living. The concept of possession is in some ways a mirage since we don’t really possess anything; we may hold it for a time but nothing is forever. “Possessing” even the most valuable things on earth doesn’t change who we are inside.


If you follow these tips, after some time your ego will begin to accept it’s new status in the background of your life and more happiness and fulfillment will be yours.

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