Recently, a woman in my membership community, Clutter Clear Your Life, asked a great question that speaks to the many layers of clutter.
“What do I do with the clutter that comes as debt from overbuying, collecting, and retail therapy? I look at the stuff around me and all I see are dollar signs. Then the credit card bill comes with the interest to pay off and I feel depressed and ashamed.”
This is a powerful question not only because it speaks to the aftermath of unconscious spending, but also because it highlights the layers of clutter.
On the surface, the clutter may appear to be the stuff all around you, also known as physical clutter.
Dig one layer down and you’ll find guilt and shame under the stuff, aka emotional clutter.
Keep digging and you’ll find debt aka financial clutter.
Excavate some more and you’ll begin to discover the real message in the mess — the reasons behind your unconscious shopping.
What are you using retail therapy to escape from?
What “fix” are you looking to get from a new purchase?
Exploring what you’re really shopping for is an important step in identifying a need you can work on fulfilling in a healthier way.
For example, let’s say you’re feeling stressed, pulled in a million directions, and like everyone around you needs you for something. You decide to go wander some stores to get away from it all.
You see this cute purse and think how nice it would be to treat yourself. Don’t your needs matter, too?
However, you don’t need that purse at all. In fact, you have 12 more at home, two that are the exact same color.
You look at the price tag.
Ooh! It’s on sale! Originally priced at $120, it’s now only $70. How can you pass up that deal? (psst, you’re not saving $50, you’re spending $70).
Now you’re more sure than ever that you “must have” this bag.
Is it the bag you really want or do you want to feel loved? Thought of? Cared for?
Do you wish the people in your life were as thoughtful of you as you are of them? I mean, you help everyone. Can’t someone help you for a change?
Yes, you can help you, and not by buying something that will just add to the clutter at home.
You can help you by saying no more often.
By asking for what you need from others.
By practicing receiving.
By reminding yourself that you are loved even when you don’t “earn” it by doing things for others.
That’s what you really need: Love. Reciprocal relationships. Nurturing.
Not another purse.
Now imagine what comes with passing up the purse: relief from the credit card debt, money in your account at the end of the month, and the opportunity to deepen relationships with those who matter the most to you (starting with YOU).
Wouldn’t that feel better than the in-the-moment sense of excitement from buying something new?
I got news for you, my friend: The quick high isn’t sustainable. You’ll always need more to get the same effect. So you’ll shop more. You’ll get more Amazon deliveries. And you’ll live with more shame and regret.
But if you practice The Power of the Pause, you can get back in charge of your decisions and your life. It’s incredibly empowering to take a moment with an impulse and turn it into a conscious decision.
Emotional needs can never be fulfilled by physical items, so the next time you’re tempted to grab something new, grab your journal instead.
Because you deserve to live intentionally.
You deserve to be in charge of your life.
You deserve to be filled with deep, authentic happiness.
Change your mindset to change your behavior and that’s precisely what you’ll get – unbridled joy.