To Buy or Not To Buy: That Is The Shopaholic’s Question

“Buy me I will make you happy” was written on the ticket of a bag I bought years ago. And, it made me happy ... till I got out of the store!

It was precisely that moment that got me thinking of my shopping habits. Before the pandemic started every time I was feeling blue went shopping. I didn’t realize that till I bought that bag. That bag with the note made me understand more about my addiction. I was buying unnecessary things. I wasn’t feeling good. No, those items didn’t make me happy! But the temptation was bigger than me. It has been almost two years since I became aware of my buying habits. Now, I am doing my best to fight the temptation.

What Is Shopping Addiction?

Compulsive shopping involves compulsive buying as a way to feel good and to avoid negative feelings. According to a study called Compulsive Buying Behavior: Clinical Comparison with Other Behavioral Addictions, compulsive buying is described as follows: “Compulsive buying behavior (CBB), otherwise known as shopping addiction, pathological buying or compulsive buying disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by the persistent, excessive, impulsive, and uncontrollable purchase of products in spite of severe psychological, social, occupational, financial consequences.”

As claimed by this study the frequency of compulsive buying behavior has increased worldwide during the two last decades.

Why Does It Happen?

Personally speaking, even though I was buying a lot of stuff, I always felt like I had nothing to wear. I didn’t like anything in my wardrobe, I was buying loads of dresses, jeans, shirts, bags, shoes – and every time I traveled I would get clothes I didn’t even need.

Remember the temptation I mentioned above? That temptation was bigger than me. Science explains why we have this urge to buy. There are two main reasons. Buying a new dress or something expensive makes us feel better — approaching pleasure and distracting ourselves from our problems. Of course, everything is temporary. Your problems will still be there and, your satisfaction will fade away. Another reason why I believe we are addicted to purchases is that we fall prey to marketing and commercialism.

Signs You May Have Addiction to Shopping

The most common sign I felt when buying something was the feeling of guilt. I felt guilty and even regretted it as soon as I walked out of the store. There were moments when I lied to my boyfriend and hid the things I bought.

The other sign was that I spent beyond my financial means. That temptation I talked about earlier made me forget and spend a lot more than my monthly finances. At the end of each month, I asked for a loan (mostly from my boyfriend).

I felt anxious when I did not buy. I have noticed this at the beginning of the pandemic. All the shops were closed and I didn’t enjoy online shopping.

How to Change?

Find a new hobby. I found mine by accident, but that helped me a lot!

When the pandemic started, I mentioned that I felt anxious as I could not go to the shops. At the time, I was working as a full-time journalist and was going to work every day. Since taxis did not work either, in April 2020 I started going to work by bike. I never knew I would like it so much. Bicycle turned into a hobby for me. That made me realize that pleasure can come from little things in life, such as cycling.

Take notes. It has helped me a lot. Start and write about the feelings of remorse and guilt you always felt when you bought something.

Talk about it. Do not feel bad about your shopping addiction. Talk to family, friends, and your therapist.


Photo: UfaBizPhoto/

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