Shopping to Fill the Void
A client told me yesterday that she often finds herself in the store buying things she doesn’t need because it feels good. Shopping fills a void and makes things seem better in the moment. She misses her husband and when she does, she shops.
Later she regrets the purchase. She beats herself up for wasting money on something she doesn’t need. She believes she’s not able to control her shopping and isn’t happy with her finances. Sometimes her purchases sit in their original packaging, unused.
I use the term “buffering” to describe this behavior. It has many forms… shopping, drinking, binging on Netflix, eating, working, etc. It comes from our desire to escape a negative emotion by numbing out with a behavior that makes us feel better temporarily.
In the long run these behaviors produce a net-negative result for ourselves. Each time we buffer we experience a little dopamine hit which our brain loves. This increases our urge to buffer and makes the cycle harder to break. We try using willpower to stop but as a finite resource, our willpower nearly always depletes. We give in and the desire is reinforced.
If you need help with this, schedule a free mini session with me here. I’ve got you.