Shopping To Cope With Unhappiness

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping,” was a Gertrude Stein quote that was prominently displayed at the old ION Orchard Rubi outlet.

Back then, 18-year-old me agreed wholeheartedly.

Like most girls, I loved shopping, particularly online. But I noticed every time the initial high from shopping wore off, the worst I felt. Spending too much added to my emotional distress and the feel-good effects were quickly replaced by guilt and frustration.

It didn’t help that I wasn’t in a mentally healthy place and didn’t have many friends. Buying things was the easy way out for me to cope with and avoid my unhappiness.

Why shopping addiction ruins friendships

Studies have found those who spend on and overvalue material objects tend not to form meaningful social relationships. Specifically, those who are lonely often fill the void with the adoption of materialistic values.

Looking back, I noticed I shopped when I was feeling bored, anxious, or lonely. Like eating sugar, I got hooked on the euphoric ‘high’ buying things gave me

And because I could ‘manufacture’ happiness by myself, it discouraged me from reaching out to my friends. It made me question why I should maintain relationships if it was too emotionally draining for my introverted self.

I did not realise the temporary happiness I got from shopping was an addiction. While it didn’t turn me into a bad friend per se, it changed my views on what truly mattered.

So whenever my friends invited me for a meal, I’d tell them I was too broke to go out. If they asked me to go shopping, I’d tell them I just bought a whole bunch of clothes. Whenever they reached out and offered their friendship, I rejected them.

Soon enough, they stopped asking because I “wouldn’t come anyway”. I isolated myself, became selfish, turned into a bad friend who would turn to retail therapy for comfort, and the vicious cycle continued.

Dealing With Shopping Addiction

At the end of the day, shopping addicts may be surrounded by things, but find themselves even more alone.

To curb my urge to shop, I learnt to ignore the voice that screamed “TREAT YO SELF”. I questioned if I really needed something thrice. And if I was still thinking about a new bag or dress three days later, I would go back and buy it.

I worked on questioning why I felt lonely and resolved selfish behaviours which made me an unpleasant person to be around.

So instead of entering that promo code when you’re dealing with emotional pain, longing, depression or emptiness, try calling up a couple of friends for dinner. Having someone listen to your problems will do you a whole lot more good and cost you next to nothing.

And deep down, you know that handbag you’ve been thinking of buying can’t help you get your shit together.

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Cover image: Source