I have a few previous posts about my struggle with stuff.
While I still have too much of it, I have been on a huge downsizing kick lately.
Purging, organizing, donating, throwing away, and generally just deciding I don’t need most of what I have!
This is coming from a person who has consistently had a small house with lots of stuff for most of my life. I used to constantly wish I had a bigger house, more storage, more room and just MORE. It was a constant desire and difficult to feel satisfied with that type of attitude.
The thing is, I now realize that my constant shopping and acquiring of things was some weird avoidance technique. At each stage of my life when I spent so much time shopping, I was unhappy, unsatisfied and discontented. The first go-round was in my late 20’s when I was in a bad relationship. The second time was in my mid 30’s when I began getting discontent with my job. The last time was when I finally had the opportunity to do what I’d always wanted to do, but was terrified to try.
Each time this has happened, shopping was a way to distract myself from facing a problem I just wasn’t ready to do anything about. I wasn’t ready to face what was really bothering me, because that might mean making some changes. Change can be scary. Change is uncomfortable.
It is MUCH easier to go shopping and mindlessly enjoy getting neat items I had no need for, so whenever I had some free time, I could be found at garage sales, thrift stores or regular stores, partaking in retail therapy. In my case, retail avoidance. I could lose myself in the fantasy of SOMEDAY having the lifestyle I wanted where I would use the cool things I was buying. My life wasn’t there yet, but it would be better…
say it with me people…..
I spent many years being content waiting for someday to happen and meanwhile buying heaps of things to do, wear, use, learn or try when that day finally came. I never used any of the items I had…it seemed like I constantly spent time trying to arrange everything. When I’d get too frustrated that I couldn’t get things arranged the way I wanted, what do you think I did?
No, you say.
Yep, I counter….
You guessed it…I went shopping.
Until I didn’t go shopping anymore. You see, in each of my three main stages of acquiring, there has always been a change that caused the shopping to end. Each time has been followed by a purging.
The first time, I gave up shopping when I finally left the bad relationship. I drove away in the middle of the night with what I could fit in my car, just leaving most of my stuff along with the relationship. I started a new life and all was fine for quite some time. I was normal. But when I started getting unhappy at my job, I started shopping again to avoid dealing with my feelings. I had a whole houseful of crap, but when I was finally ready to change (by facing the problem and ultimately quitting my job,) the shopping and acquiring stopped. I sold a lot of the stuff, left a lot of what didn’t sell and moved away.
Are you seeing a pattern here? In each of my situations, I use shopping and buying stuff to avoid a problem in my life. This goes on for awhile until my frustration builds to a crescendo, and even though it takes me awhile to do something about it, I ultimately face what is wrong and make changes to fix it.
The third time this happened is at the end of part two, when I quit my awful job, sold stuff and moved away. That was this time. I’m still in the making changes stage of this one.
You can read more about my most recent cycle of shopping and purging here.