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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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    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Shopping often feels good in the moment but as you say it can easily become an addiction. Thank you.

    • carriethomson profile image

      carriethomson 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      shopping somehow seems to be stress buster! maybe because it feeds our ego and provides us the materialistic pleasures. this is great hub and it is very true that it becomes an addiction and it is a fake kind of happiness that we seek through shopping.


    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Ellis, In our society of abundance it is hard to avoid the temptation to "fix" problems with a purchase. Expressing who we are through our possessions has become so much of what our culture is about. It is great that you found your way out of the trap. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

    • profile image

      Ellis 6 years ago

      When I was younger, nothing "fixed" a disappointment or upset better than buying "something". Didn't really matter what it was, it just made me feel better somehow. But as I grew older and came to know and accept myself more, I find that I want less and less of materialistic things, because I realize it's all external from me. Now I think twice before buying anything, even simple things like socks and nail polish!

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      @Vissitor - Shopping can become a distraction from this enlightenment and it serves the needs of our economy as well. Shopping addicts become slaves, almost like worker ants, just doing a job without much reflection. Thank you so much for the comment and vote!

      @Jfay - How wonderful to hear that you have moved past the shopping distraction. I think once we see the shopping addiction for what it is it is hard to ever go back there again. Less IS more!

      @Movie Master - So happy to see you here! You are right this is a problem that is way out of control. It is not just an American problem either, I know European women with the same issues.

      Thank you!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Tracy, shopping for many people these days seems to be way out of control, an addiction even.

      Excellent advice and well written hub, thank you for sharing.

    • jfay2011 profile image

      jfay2011 6 years ago

      I was a shop a holic. I now don't shop as much and have been giving lots of my stuff to good will and the local libraries. And I have been carting furniture out of my house. I really like having less to clean. And I still have a lot of stuff, but at least its things that I use. I'm an artist and a writer, so I have lots of things pertaining to that. But I have weeded out lots of clothing and different things. Less is more.

    • vissitor profile image

      vissitor 6 years ago from Sonoma Valley, California

      A provocative look at what seems to be a pandemic of materialism and our unconsciously submitting our value as human beings to a definition of what we wear, drive etc. As you point out, our consumer driven culture almost demands that we continue to buy in order to define and assure our self worth. It directs our attention outward instead of in. And yes, these are ephemeral and insubstantial distraction to enlightenment. Rather than truly making us happy and enhancing our self esteem, they distract from the being we all posses within us. Nurturing the person we are instead of decorating or modifying it with the latest fashion is the path to any real joy. Thank you. Voted up and awesome.

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      iZeko, I think that more than a few people recognize this problem, but don't know of any solutions, while others will never comprehend it. Some people are ready to grow, while others will stay in this materialistic place their whole lives. Each of us is on a different journey. Thank you very much for your comment and votes!

    • iZeko profile image

      iZeko 6 years ago

      You’ve made some very good points here. Unfortunately, few people recognize the problem. I won’t be surprised if this addiction is soon identified as a mental disorder. Voted up and useful!

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      It is a common problem. I hope it helps! Thank you.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      This is good advice for anyone with a shopping addiction. Sadly, this is a common problem, so you could be helping many people learn how to deal with this problem.