The dopamine hit
The psychology of shopping relates to buying things we don’t need whilst believing the items we buy are necessary for our emotional health.(I am not referring to essentials such as food etc). It isn’t about owning more material possessions. Rather shopping is about the act of acquiring new things. The pivotal point of sale when we feel comforted or soothed on some level is what it is all about.
That euphoric, satisfied feeling of obtaining something new that promises to make us look prettier, more sexy, more intelligent. Whatever it is..we somehow believe that our newest purchase will enrich our lives somehow. The trouble is, that this feeling soon wears off and we end up reverting to our default selves. The self that feels unattractive, unworthy or just plain sad.
I have often seen something in a shop and fallen in love with it. When I was younger, I would probably just have bought it. Now, I try to muster some self-discipline and leave it for a day or two. 90% of the time, I have completely forgotten about the item later in the day. I also find that I tend to shop when I am feeling emotionally vulnerable. Shopping is seen as an easy-to-control fix that can temporarily boost our mood.
No matter what you purchase, whether it is a Hermes bag worth thousands or a £3 shirt from Primark, the elation soon wears off. It seems though that the elation felt at the point of purchase is fairly similar whether it is something that is pricey or not. It, therefore, makes sense to spend 80% of your shopping activity in the cheap stores. This will fulfill emotional needs without leaving you bankrupt.
Shopping is a short-lived boost
What is more important to tackle though is our underlying beliefs about ourselves. Shopping is merely a symptom of an underlying issue that we are not dealing with. I am not saying shopping is bad – on the contrary, it is a fun activity but it can become a crutch. Anything in excess suggests an imbalance. Look a little deeper and explore. More possessions just means more clutter, it doesn’t mean more happiness.