It All Starts With One Purchase
If you find yourself in a shopping frenzy, constantly acquiring material possessions, there may be an underlying reason. Here's the story of a friend who was able to overcome this behavior.
One of the highlights of my week was trying on a new pair of jeans that fit perfectly, as if they were tailor-made for me. What made it even better was the fact that I had bought them online and had doubts about the fit. In fact, I had considered returning them before they even arrived. But to my delight, they exceeded my expectations and proved me wrong (which I generally dislike). In that moment, I felt something I hadn’t experienced before.
I couldn't help but feel a sense of peace and serenity. The air was fresher, cooler, and smelled of pine and earth. The sunlight filtering through the window seemed brighter and warmer than usual, casting a golden glow over everything around me. The sound of the babbling brook nearby was soothing, and the water was so clear and pure that it looked like liquid diamonds flowing over the rocks.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, feeling the cool breeze on my skin and the warmth of the sun on my face. It were as if all my worries and stress were melting away, and for a moment, everything felt perfect.
And that moment, which lasted only for, well, a moment was a short spike in dopamine that made me want to get addicted to it till the Last Hour were to come. Such is the vulnerability of a human being. I knew someone who used to be a former accumulator but I’ll get to his story later.
I’m not gullibly dazzled by the superfluous nature of material possessions which is why the feeling took me by surprise. I’ve kept souvenirs to remember people and moments, yes, but clothes, shoes, accessories, haven’t been things that I’ve longed for in this life.
But the jeans gave me a glimpse of what others, who are enchanted by material possessions, feel like. I must admit, it is surreal but it’s not long-lasting.
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And so, a bit of research led me to the reasons behind people’s shopping sprees:
Enhancing their self-esteem.
Believing that owning certain things will increase their standing in society.
Engaging in rivalry with relatives, acquaintances, and colleagues.
Finding pleasure in the act of shopping and acquiring new items.
Assuming that possessions will be the source of their happiness.
Being shaped by the values and experiences of family members, mentors, and surroundings during childhood and adolescence.
Dealing with or confronting the anxiety related to one's own death.
“It takes a toll after point, not being able to let go of certain things even if its value addition to your life is next to nothing.” —The Former Accumulator (calling him Alex for the story)
Upon our first meeting, Alex chose to ignore me, which was not surprising given his preference to only interact with those who wore prominent brands. He was the unsolicited ambassador of 5th Avenue, Bond Street or even the Champs-Élysées. Not only that, he would spend hours browsing through online stores, filling his cart with gadgets, clothes, and other items that he didn't really need.
Alex's apartment was filled with all sorts of things he had accumulated over the years, and he would often brag about his possessions to anyone in close proximity to him. It became annoying for a lot of people who tried to see the good in him and slowly, his circle shrunk; it came to a point where the only people he talked to, were on Omegle.
Now, there are a very few cases where I credit social media for being good and this is one of them. Random scrolls on Instagram led him to a well-known influencers who challenged his 4 million odd followers to participate in an exercise. Participants had to go an entire month without buying anything unnecessary and in turn place one item aside every day; an item that they will let go of at the end of the month, if not used. At first, Alex scoffed at the idea and thought it was impossible for him to do.
But the idea intrigued him, and he decided to take up the challenge. He created a list of essential items he would need for the month and promised himself that he wouldn't buy anything else.
The first few days were tough for Alex. He found himself constantly checking online stores and getting tempted by sales and discounts. But he reminded himself of the challenge and stayed strong.
As the days went by, Alex began to notice changes in his mindset. He started to appreciate the things he already had and realized that he didn't need material possessions to feel fulfilled. The pile of unnecessary items became bigger and he was shocked at all the unnecessary expenditure over the past few years.
Moreover, his relationships improved, and so did his mental well-being. When I met Alex a few months later, the significant change he had gone through led me to ask him one question that I finally asked him, now that he had stopped ignoring me.
“How did your love for material possession start?”
“With one purchase,” he said.
P.S. I bought 2 more jeans on the same website. But I’m stopping after that.