How to Break Free from Retail Therapy

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve struggled with feelings of lack in certain areas of my life. 

For example, I used to have a giant bin full of beauty products and would keep buying more. I also regularly struggled to get dressed from my closet stuffed with random clothes

These situations were frustrating and disruptive to my day - and made me cringe when I thought about the money that was spent only to receive little value in return.

I see this all the time with my decluttering clients. Many of us have at least one category of items that’s really difficult for us.

I was working with a client recently who has a hard time with books and magazines. During one of our sessions we realized she had dozens of books and magazines on her desk she had purchased to read (and a couple that were gifted to her) over the span of months if not years - and she’d yet to make a dent in them.

She said she’d be at our local co-op, spot a headline of one of the self-help magazines in the check out line, and think "THIS. IS. IT." 

I was kind of cracking up inside when she said that only because it sounded so familiar. Whether I was online or in a store, I would see a pair of shoes or a nail polish and would think, “THIS. IS. IT.” 

Of course, it never was what I was looking for, not really. Each shopping trip had the same result. I’d bleed out money and receive just about nothing in return beyond a cluttered space and a frustrating morning routine.

For you it might not be beauty products, clothes or books. It could be housewares, supplements, hobby equipment, or any other category you could think of. If this dynamic sounds familiar, keep reading to find out the key mistakes I was making.

Mistake #1: I Couldn’t Admit My Needs Were Important

As a baseline, I was very ashamed of taking up any space at all. I thought buying clothes and products for self care made me greedy and, even worse, shallow. Shopping for myself made me feel guilty, so I would try to provide for myself as cheaply as possible, sabotaging myself in the process. 

Mistake #2: I Wasn’t Clear on What I Wanted

If I was in that much denial about the importance of my basic needs, you can bet that I wasn’t spending any time getting clear on how I wanted them met. But when I finally did admit that my appearance and self care were important matters, I realized that I wasn’t looking for that one splurge that would fix everything. What I really wanted was to look and feel put together. 

Mistake #3: I Didn’t Educate Myself

It's hard to look and feel put together on a wardrobe of impulse purchases.  I didn’t realize I had unhelpful thought patterns that repeatedly put myself in my own way when I was shopping. Until I educated myself and found some strategies that worked for me, I struggled with this for a long time.

If you struggle with a problem category or several, please know that first of all, your needs and desires are important, and deserve to be cultivated with intention. Spend some time reflecting on what you really want, and then learn about how you can make that happen. 

With Love & Gratitude,

Anna Brunelle