“It’s not just the “more I have, the better I’ll feel” mind set that too many people work from as a way to fill a void. Spending often has a competitive quality that involves having as much or more than peers. Material goods can serve as a mask of happiness.”
Dealing with the blues can lead to the development of anxiety, avoidance or addictions. For me, my old consumption habit is the one that still haunts me. This is mostly because I’m still recovering from the financial damage.
As I make this confession I know I’m not the only one. I see others with similar pain and false smiles. The need to keep up appearances is ingrained into our culture. Reality television, fashion magazines and other figures are all sending a message. But how do we interpret it?
Keeping up appearances can evolve into acquisition at any cost… financial ruin, shopping addiction, and depression usually follow. We feel the need to impress by disguising ourselves with whatever costume looks best. Clothes, cars, and larger than life houses that we can’t afford, are all a cover up. Truly secure people don’t feel the need to impress people they barely know, with resources that they certainly don’t have.
“Consumerism becomes excessive when it extends beyond what is needed. When we begin consuming more than is needed, boundaries are removed. Personal credit allows us to make purchases beyond our income-level. Advertisements subtly reshape our desires around material possessions. Excessive consumption leads to bigger houses, faster cars, trendier clothes, fancier technology, and overfilled drawers. It promises happiness but never delivers.”
Once we start our descent on that downward spiral, it’s hard to stop. The feeling of our recent purchase is too good. Just for that moment, things feel okay. The world becomes a little less suffocating. And if it’s a clothing addiction, well at least we look good!
It never lasts. The temporary fix is just that… temporary. A new trend will emerge. Someone else with a newer car appears or someone else shows up with a better outfit. We have to keep up and compete.
This kind of addiction (like all addictions) fills a void and has lingering consequences that stick around long after you’ve kicked the habit. And there’s also the shame factor to consider. Once we’ve lost control, we’re embarrassed. Asking for help feels downright impossible. So we continue on this path to cover up our mistakes, because once we dig ourselves into that hole, recovering feels out of reach. It all tugs at our self-loathing, our insecurity, our innate sadness. We feel foolish, not good enough. This is what was driving me. I was not healthy. I didn’t want these items as a symbol of self-expression or because of my interest in fashion. I lost my mind. I would do anything for that fix!
It all came back to one core belief, that I was not good enough. But the thing is, I am. And so are you.