Last week I talked about why we feel the urge to shop and how sometimes we use that to pacify our feelings. This week, I’m here to say that it’s not entirely all on you.
Ever since I started Clear Space, I've spent more time online researching furniture, storage and functional decor for my clients. I couldn't help but notice that anything I've searched for ends up in my Facebook feed, Amazon reminds me that I was looking at it and even Sears has emailed me to offer me free shipping. It's so easy for me to recognize it because these are not items that I am coveting or desiring. If they were, I sure would be triggered more easily to buy, it's taunting me everyday.
The average consumer sees about 5,000 ads a day. Whether you like it or not, you are a potential customer—to water that contains vitamins, fizzy and refreshing soda, the newest handbag from Milan, or a grill that will revolutionize the way that you cook your meat. These advertisements are everywhere: on the television, freeway billboards, plastered around the subway, pop-ups on your phone or laptop, even on the back of your favorite athlete’s jersey. It’s difficult to get away from them, unless you’re deep in the jungle. At this rate, who knows, maybe even the gorillas and lions are sponsored by an airline or cleaning product.
It’s a form of brainwashing that nobody talks about. We are being sold to constantly, by being preyed on via our insecurities, hopes and dreams. The new clothes that will make you more likable at work or help you finally get a date. If you purchase these supplements, you’ll have those muscles you always wanted. If everything in your kitchen is made by this company, not only will you have the nicest utensils around, but your dinner parties will 1. actually occur and 2. be something that everyone talks about for years afterwards. Times have changed from having items fulfill your needs, to having your life be overwhelmed by items.
Keeping up with Joneses is more apparent than ever now in our society. The newest phone needs to be in your pocket. The best sneakers have to be on your feet. It creates a cycle of depression—you never feel like what you have is good enough, thus you’re not good enough. What makes you feel better? Buying something else, which in turn becomes not good enough, and leads you to the same path as you were before. Stuff isn't a replacement for love and no matter what, your stuff will never love you back.
You can’t avoid the advertising messages, but you can create an awareness around what pushes you to buy the items. Are you bored with what you have? Do you feel like it is not good enough or can serve you in how you need? Does it fill something you think is missing? Are you feeling a certain kind of way when you get this item? Be aware of your thoughts and feelings. What are the incidents that push you to buy something? Once you become clear around the trigger, it makes it much easier to prevent the consequence. “Why am I buying this? What are my emotions right now?" By simply analyzing, you can redirect your thoughts and really know if "Yes, I need this item" or "This is a distraction from the work I have to do tonight".
This week, think about why you buy things and what encourages you to do so. You may just find that those messages the advertising world is promoting isn’t true for you.