Just staring at this word on my screen fills my head with so many thoughts. We all have fears about something. Sometimes they are outward fears like spiders or clowns, but sometimes fear runs so deep that we aren’t even aware of them. Instead, fear manifests in our actions, like staying in relationships because of the fear of being alone, or not trying new things because of the fear of failure.
Fear is also well-represented by the physical things we accumulate throughout our lives. Leo Babauta claims that fear is the reason behind people having too much. In a thought-provoking post, Babauta explains that we stuff our garages, over-pack for trips, and hold on to things we don’t use because of the fear of being unprepared for something.
One point, that especially hit home for me was keeping a lot of clothes, which Babauta explains represents a fear of not being good enough as you are.
Wow. I feel like I just got the wind knocked out of me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that I have issues about not feeling good enough, and I try to work on them, mainly through prayer and being conscience of what I allow myself to think about. But, clothes shopping? I hadn’t really connected shopping and not being good enough. Looking back, I definitely remember bouts of emotional shopping, especially in my twenties and early thirties, and I am still a sucker for a clearance rack, but I no longer shop to fill an emotional void.
I try to filter my purchases, and I’m way better than I ever have been, but I still have plenty of clothes in my closet that have tags on them. A big wake-up call for me was last summer, when we had our first yard sale, after being in our house for only four years. We sold thousands of dollars’ worth of stuff for a few hundred dollars, and it started to set in how much we were wasting.
My biggest challenge is probably buying things for my kids. I don’t buy toys for my kids every time I go shopping, but I almost always get them something. It might be gum or a shirt that was on clearance, but they almost always end up with something, and it’s usually something they don’t need. Sometimes we get home and they have several things, and I don’t even realize it because I’ve said yes to a couple things that were a dollar or two.
Several things are working against me with this mentality.
1. We are trying to simplify our lifestyle and continuously bringing little junky trinkets into our home produces the opposite effect. We now have several bins of toys that look like this, and they hardly ever get touched..
2. I don’t feel like I’m sending the right message to my kids. They place value on very few individual toys because if one is missing or broken, there are plenty of other options to choose from.
3. Part of our “why” for simplifying is to eliminate debt and increase our savings.
To try to evaluate and possibly reset my shopping patterns, I am putting myself on a 30-day “shopping diet”, an idea by Jacqueline Curtis that I found in a great post about psychological triggers of shopping. For one month, I will not buy anything that is not a necessity for my home or family. (I’m not including home improvement supplies in this because we are also in the process of doing some renovations in our home, but that’s a whole other story.) Curtis states how this helped her evaluate her “whys” of spending, and I’m hoping to evaluate my own shopping habits in the same way.
I’m still finding my way on my journey to my minimalism I’ll keep you updated on this new facet of the journey. In the meantime, I would love to know how you feel about shopping. Do you shop for necessity or pleasure? For yourself or others? Are you filling your home with things you love, or are you filling some type of emotional void? Leave me a comment or find me on Twitter.