BY SOFO ARCHON
In the materialistic world that we’ve been brought up into, we think that shopping is the answer to everything. Manipulative advertising has convinced us that buying stuff will satisfy all our emotional needs — it will bring us happiness, love, freedom, and anything else that we long for.
This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth, and the sooner we realize it, the sooner we will be able to escape from the prison of materialism and live a more meaningful life, free from the burden that excessive consumerism places on our psyche.
10 Emotional Needs Shopping Can Never Satisfy
1. Confidence. Because of how much we value products, we sometimes fall under the illusion that the more of them we buy, the better we will feel about ourselves — we will be more confident and will have higher self-esteem. But how simple-minded is it to think that external things will make us feel confident? Products are ephemeral and superficial, and the more attached to them we are, the more vulnerable and weak we will feel.
2. Security. The main reason why people shop excessively is because of their emotional insecurities, which are mainly created by the advertising industry. If you don’t feel beautiful, you might want to buy so-called beauty products. If you feel unloved, you might want to buy a shiny car to impress others. But material objects can offer us nothing more than substitutes for what we need, hence they will inevitably leave us disappointed.
3. Happiness. We have fallen victims to the idea that happiness can be bought and that everything that can bring us joy is on sale. So we keep on shopping, thinking that this will make us happy, but in the end it only leaves us emotionally thirsty, since what we truly need to be emotionally satisfied is healthy relationships with people, creative work, play, and inner peace.
4. Fulfillment. True fulfillment is derived from finding purpose and meaning in our life. It comes from doing things that matter to us and that we feel passionate about, as well as from being close to the ones who love us, support us, and help us become the best version of ourselves — things that shopping can never provide us with.
5. Significance. Many of us spend most of our money on as expensive stuff as we can afford in order to feel proud of ourselves and show to others how significant we are. All the things we buy, however, are short-lived, and sooner or later the market will replace them with more advanced versions of them, thus they’ll never make us feel significant enough, since there will always be people who will have better things than the ones we own.
6. Influence. We humans are inherently social beings, loving to connect and communicate with others, and we desire to influence others with our heart and mind. But instead of building true, sincere relationships with people who can truly understand our being and be influenced by our ideas and passion for life, we try to superficially influence those around us through the acquisition of possessions, thinking that they will somehow make us more powerful and will allow us to exert more influence on others.
7. Connection. In our competitive society, we feel lonely and disconnected. In addition, living in big cities of concrete, we have lost touch with our inseparateness with nature. This sense of disconnection from people and the natural world makes us experience the outside world as separate and threatening to us, which puts us in a constant state of stress. We’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that shopping can help us expand our sense of self and re-connect us with the world. And although it is true that our ego grows by feeding on possessions, it is also building huge psychological walls all around us that only makes us feel even more alienated than before.
8. Freedom. Most people are under the impression that shopping brings them freedom. Of course, in the economic system that we have, this is true to some extent, since shopping is the means through which we can provide ourselves with what we need to cover our basic physical needs so we can then have the freedom to pursue our passions and live the way we want to live. When, however, we mistake wants for needs, shopping actually restricts our freedom, turning us into emotional slaves to material objects that we don’t truly need and which fills our lives with worries and distractions.
9. Contentment. To be content means to be emotionally satisfied just the way you are, to enjoy the present moment and savor everything that life brings on your way. However, most of us are in a continuous stress to acquire material things, always looking at contentment as a future end that we’ll experience once we acquire them, and hence we can never relax and enjoy the here and now.
10. Gratitude. When we are always looking for new things to buy, we will always feel that our life is lacking something, and thus we can never appreciate and enjoy what we already have. Therefore unless we develop gratitude, we will never be able to live a fulfilled life. Gratitude arises from the understanding that we have more than we need, and that the journey of life is wonder-full, no matter its ups and downs.
As you can see, shopping doesn’t and can’t satisfy our emotional needs. We need to direct our attention elsewhere if we want to find true emotional fulfillment.
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