I talk a lot in my blog and on my podcast (The Coaches’ Cup—check us out on iTunes!) about feelings. I do that because so many of us have never been taught to feel. Instead we have been taught to push our feelings down and to tame them with food or alcohol or shopping. In the personal development world, this activity of using external things to change our emotions instead of processing our current feelings is called buffering. Buffering always creates a net-negative in our lives; it leaves us with unhealthy eating or drinking or spending habits. Ultimately, it keeps us in a shame spiral that will never allow us to reach our full potential.
Since the pandemic broke out in this country, online shopping has increased by 75%. Of course, part of that is because people don’t want to leave their homes to go into stores to buy necessities, but a considerable portion of it is because people are buffering with online shopping. They feel a sense of isolation, sadness, fear, etc. due to the events in our 2020 world, and buying something gives them a quick hit of dopamine to make them feel better. If I’m shopping on Amazon or Etsy, I don’t have to think about what is happening out in the world. If a box is delivered to me every day, I have something to look forward to.
But the consequences of over-shopping and overspending can be disastrous. I have seen women lose spouses, homes, and jobs because they get so wrapped up in shopping, they can’t figure out how to control their urges to spend. Money gurus point to budget methods like using envelopes or freezing your credit cards in a block of ice to control it. I have a client who had her husband change the Amazon password so she would stop spending. But none of these methods attack the root of the problem. None of these focus on why the person feels this deep NEED to spend.