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How to get to the heart of impulse buying


Pa Leo Babaut

It’s a simple fact: the pandemic has increased the number of impulse purchases most people have made. There are many statistics to support this, but you can just look at your life and the lives of people you know to see if this is true for you.

Why are we increasingly compelled to buy clothes, gadgets, exercise equipment, toys for hobbies and more?

Uncertainty is the basis. We feel much more insecure these days and don’t know how to deal with it.

The more insecure we feel about ourselves and the world around us…the more we reach for comforts and things that make us feel a little more in control. And shopping is one of those things.

There is nothing wrong with that! Feeling in control and feeling comfortable are two very wonderful things – we all need them sometimes. The more we can let go of judgment, the more we can be open to other possibilities.

Let’s look at what we hope the purchase will do for us… and then other strategies for meeting those needs.

What we really hope to get from shopping

When you go online to buy something you really want… do you crave that item? Or something else?

In my experience, we long for something else – something that we hope this purchase will get us. We have hope that when the package arrives at our door, it will bring something into our lives that we lack.

For example, we may hope that a purchase will give us:

  • Comfort / feeling of love
  • Health / Wellbeing
  • Excitement / joy / fun
  • Beautiful life / tranquility
  • Feeling like we’re cool/strong/sexy
  • Feeling in control / being on top
  • Stylishness
  • Adventures / in nature
  • Minimalism / simplicity
  • Communication / friendship
  • Self-improvement / dignity

You can see that we expect a lot from our purchases! And these are just some of the most common ones.

Behind some of them is something even deeper – for example, behind the hope for stylishness is hidden the hope for a sense of dignity. Beneath the hope for minimalism or control lies the hope for a sense of peace.

What’s under the things you bought most recently? What feelings were you hoping for? What is the life experience? Looking at it honestly can be powerful.

Other strategies to meet these needs

If what we’re hoping for is a life experience, a feeling… you can imagine there are other ways to get that than buying something.

For example:

  • Mir: Could you meditate, take a walk, sit in the stillness and quiet? Peace is always available to us when we give ourselves space.
  • Comfort: Could you give yourself love and compassion? Take care of yourself? What could you do right now to feel like the arms of a loved one?
  • Adventure: Could you go outside and experience a sense of play, adventure, wonder? Can you find adventure in everything you do?
  • Joy: Can you find joy in everyday life?
  • Control: This feeling can be achieved by getting the little things in order in your life. But it can also be helpful to realize that control is an illusion, and nothing we buy will ever give us control. The real practice is surrender and trust.
  • Feeling strong/cool/sexy/stylish: We really rely on our possessions to give us a sense of self-worth. As we can see from past purchases, it never gives us that. Maybe a little self-esteem boost for an hour or two, if anything. Instead…we could practice appreciating ourselves. And that means paying attention to what we feel, giving ourselves love, taking care of ourselves, appreciating who we are. It’s all free!

The good news is that it’s all available to us right now, in every moment. Free of charge. This means we don’t need to order anything, it’s already arrived! This can be a nice relief for the bank account! 🙂

How would you like to practice with it?

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