Why is it that so many of us live paycheck to paycheck? Why do so few people have a really good handle on their finances and have true financial security? The kind of financial security that when big things happen, there is no worry or panic. The money is there and you know you’re fine. I think so many people in modern society are living in a way that the slightest financial issue, emergency, job loss, or even missed paycheck could completely upset their world.
Materialism Leads to Scarcity
We are living in a world of materialism. A world of must-haves and must-dos. Of ads, of idealistic images of wealthy stars, and pressure. We start to feel that we aren’t good enough, or aren’t really living or enjoying life unless we have and do all the things our world shows us (and idolizes). So, we have to have that great new car to impress our neighbors. We need those expensive clothes to look like we are successful. Or that TV that our friend just got that is so amazing – well now we need one too. It goes on and on and on. And the joke is, it’s all just stuff. Stuff that will drive you into debt and never give you the peace of mind that good financial management will give you. And none of it will bring you happiness. Not the kind we all deeply desire. As a society, we are living in a constant struggle with scarcity, and financial disaster is always looming.
Have I overcome this struggle with scarcity? On many levels I have. I’ve definitely moved far away from trying to keep up with the neighbors and all the materialism. I’ve moved to a life of doing what suits me, not caring about what anyone else thinks, and working to pay my debts. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that if you can stop caring and stop trying to impress everyone, you can just be yourself – and you know what? That’s a LOT more impressive. Not only that, but my money goes to the important stuff now.
So how do you recognize this issue in yourself? Well, I’d ask you if you see something someone else has, and you just must have it? In other words, do you impulse buy and justify it by “needing it” because everyone else has it too? Or do you do it to make yourself feel better – maybe even about yourself or other issues in your life? Do you comfort yourself with shopping? Do you make big purchases because you are bored with your life? Or maybe you are avoiding big issues you should be dealing with? What are you avoiding with shopping?
Culturally, we’ve been taught that shopping will make us feel better. That new stuff will solve our problems. That keeping up with everyone else will make us popular. And that people will like us and want to be with us if we have all the right things. Well, all the most EXPENSIVE things really.
The Person with the Most Stuff Wins
People in our society idolize the wealthy – or at least people who look the part with expensive things. They want to get close to that money – that stuff. Perhaps they try to impress them. They may even stumble over themselves to get their attention sometimes. They hope to befriend them – if nothing else it may be that they believe that it will rub off on them, or they will reap the benefits of that person’s perceived wealth. Or perhaps they want to get noticed by others in their presence and assumed to have it all together since they are with someone with expensive things (and therefore is successful – or so it is assumed).
It’s really all part of our obsession with stuff. With materialism. It makes people drool. If only they could have more stuff. Seriously though, many have said that the more money they make, the more they buy, and they are still in scarcity all the time. Why is it we can’t appreciate what we have? Why do we always have to have more? While it’s not wrong, it’s something that often drives people into a financial hole of debt and a cycle of scarcity throughout their life.
Shopping for Happiness
It’s so interesting but I recently moved to an area near a shopping center, and I am in awe of how that parking lot is ALWAYS full! Seriously, who needs to buy clothes at 8pm during a snowstorm? Really? I’m amazed at how much people shop and how many people shop – constantly. Even my neighbors are back and forth over there all the time. I’ve grown a little annoyed with it all. Go home people. You won’t find happiness in those stores.
How do you stop doing this? Well, honestly, it really starts at the core of things. If you are truly happy with yourself and your life, you won’t have that emptiness that you are trying to fill up with stuff. You won’t need to impress anyone. It starts with self-love and a feeling of worthiness. It turns out that people who don’t have a strong feeling of self-love or a knowing that they are worthy of a great life – well, they seek things that fill up that emptiness. Shopping is one of those things many use to do just that.
Put Down the Credit Card and Meditate
So when you even feel like you want to go shopping or buy something online, stop and get to the core of that feeling. Why do you want to do that? Are you bored? Avoiding something else in your life? Unhappy or lonely? Is it some sort of escapism for you? Diagnose it. Feel it. Write about it. Talk about it. Think about it. Meditate on it. This is the start of getting to the core of it. This is when you start to change how you react to those feelings when you notice them. Find a new way of coping. Find a healthy new habit that also makes you happy perhaps. But digging into the feelings is the first step in healing them, so start there for sure.
Starting to observe your habits, working through the underlying emotional triggers, and making changes are the first steps in changing anything in your life – but in this case, it’s the first steps in moving away from scarcity, lack and materialism as well. It might even move you towards financial security. Now wouldn’t that be amazing?
And a great book related to this topic is The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life by Lynne Twist