I realised I had a shopping problem when packages would arrive at home and I had no idea what was inside them.
These things that I thought I needed, I had forgotten all about.
I would open cupboards to find impulse purchases from the past, a back massager, acupressure mats, every supplement you can imagine. Mostly bought on the recommendation of a total stranger online who earnestly explained that I couldn’t live without this miraculous product.
I bought and bought and bought and one day when I was opening a mysterious box, it hit me. “This doesn’t feel good.”
Once upon a time I would save up for something new, I would anticipate being able to buy it, fantasise about all the ways I was going to use it/wear it, then when the moment finally came I would celebrate and enjoy the moment I’d been waiting for.
Now it was just hollow and meaningless.
Perhaps it’s the state of the world, the constant frightening news cycle, online shopping gave me a sense of control, a little dopamine hit when I needed an escape from reality.
Perhaps it’s just capitalism, growing up in a society obsessed with stuff, obsessed with owning more and more and more.
Or perhaps I was just searching for fulfilment in all the wrong places.
The more I bought, the more I posted about what I was buying, the more my followers loved it, the more messages I got, more comments, constantly feeding my addiction.
Not only did I have a problem, but I was contributing to the problem. My excitement about whatever I was buying in turn convinced others that they needed this hot new thing, and so the cycle of hyper-materialism continued.
The bad news is that hurt people hurt people.
The good news is that healed people heal people.
The first step to healing my addiction was a shift in perspective, an understanding that my behaviour was harmful, to both me and the world. I learned more about sustainability. I learned that recycling should be a last resort, that reducing and reusing are far more important.
I learned that only 8% of the clothes you donate make it into charity shops or go to those in need, the rest go to landfills which poison the earth, the waterways, the ocean.
I stopped following people who posted new things every day, shopping guides, Amazon dupes. Not out of judgment, but for self preservation. I don’t judge anyone for how they run their small business or provide for their family. I do judge the corporations who exploit and exacerbate the situation.
I followed new people, like Venitia who fights the good fight every. single. day. I followed people who talk about food and travel and spirituality and inspire me in different ways.
I made myself wait to buy anything new. I would ask myself “is this something I want to own forever?” I would put it in my saved items and if I still needed it in a month, I would buy it. (This rarely happened. Turned out I didn’t need half the things I thought I did.) I prioritised independent brands and designers. I deleted TikTok. I limited my time allowed on instagram, so I would only use it for connection rather than doom scrolling.
I worked on getting real dopamine, going for walks, cold plunging, practiced gratitude, meditated, maximised my time outside.
All along side two years of heavy shadow work and every alternative therapy under the sun, not for this specific issue, but my whole smorgasbord of other issues!
I still have a way to go, I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and will probably always be a work in progress. I will continue to make mistakes and slip back into old habits now and then, because healing is never linear.
I’m not telling you any of this to shame anyone, to make anyone feel bad, to tell anyone to change. I think you’re great just as you are.
But if you’re reading this because one of those little voices inside your head said “Online shopping addiction? Do we have that?” then I hope sharing my own experience helps a little.
I’m here if you want to talk.
My hour on instagram a day doesn’t give me much time for DMs, so leave a comment below (anonymously if you prefer) and I’ll answer you here.