Are you addicted to shopping? Or maybe you absolutely hate shopping. Either way, we’ve got some news for you.
Have you ever wondered why you love shopping so much? Are you hooked on spending money all the time? Are you completely addicted to shopping? (If you are addicted, read that link, it will help a lot).
Or maybe you’re the opposite.
Maybe you hate shopping and hate spending money.
Either way, science tells us that evolutionary biology is the cause of your shopping habits.
…So this is why I used to cry when I spent money…
I personally used to hate shopping.
When I was a little kid I once cried for two hours because I’d spent $60 on the wrong video game.
Then later, as an adult, I used to feel terribly guilty spending money rather than giving it all away to friends or charities. (Well, I am slightly obsessed with Loving Kindness)
My shopping habits were never healthy. I always it depressing to spend money, even relatively small amounts.
But now I understand my money and shopping problem.
- Now we know why people love or hate shopping. It’s all about evolutionary biology.
- 5 Ways Evolutionary Biology Makes You Love Or Hate Shopping
- Curing Your Shopping Addiction
- The Symptoms Of Shopping Addiction
- The Effects Of Shopping Addiction
- How to cure shopping addiction
- How to Cure a Shopping Addiction
Now we know why people love or hate shopping. It’s all about evolutionary biology.
Evolutionary biology is the study of the origins and evolution of species. It’s a fascinating field of science that is usually used to understand genetics, molecular biology, and evolution.
But don’t sweat. You definitely don’t need a masters degree in biology to understand what I’m about to say.
Personally I’m the last thing from a scientist, being an artistic spiritualist. But even with my limited knowledge, it is quite easy to understand how evolutionary biology affects your shopping habits.
5 Ways Evolutionary Biology Makes You Love Or Hate Shopping
1. Pattern recognition is essential to mankind. And it can make you love or hate shopping and money.
As human being we have evolved to have very advanced pattern-recognition skills. Take a look at this fantastic article on Visual Thinking Magic. It explains how humans evolved to be masters at pattern recognition.
Compared to most Earth-based species, we humans have exceptional pattern recognition abilities. And those abilities are at play when we go shopping.
Have you ever noticed that when you go shopping you have certain stores you love and other stores you hate?
If so, consider the patterns and the décor of the area you’re shopping in.
If you’re shopping in a city centre full of high rise buildings and flashy advertisements, for instance, you might feel stressed, because your mind has learnt to associate tall buildings and flashing lights with tension.
On the other hand, you might love shopping in cozy little shops off the main strip.
Charity stores, for instance, are often quiet, friendly, and subdued. Your mind picks up on these patterns and says “I’ve been here before. It was good last time”. That”s one reason I personally love to bargain hunt in charity stores.
Pattern recognition is always at play.
When you find yourself loving shopping or hating shopping, ask: “Is my mind picking up on something here that I dislike?” You may find there’s a pattern at play.
2. Do you love some stores and hate others? Tribalism is the cause.
Tribalism is a huge part of human evolution (this excellent article on Scientific American explains more).
As humans, we’ve come to develop a habit of sticking with the people who are similar to us and going against people who are different (this is part of the reason for discrimination).
The groups we hang with inform us of who we are. They’re actually one way that we develop a sense of “self” and personality.
That tribalism is at play every time you visit a store.
When shopping, your mind is constantly asking, “Is this store like me? Does this store reflect me? Do I fit in here?
Smart store owners will take advantage of tribalism. They’ll make their stores reflect the type of people they want to attract. That way, when you visit a store you’ll think, “These guys are like me. I trust them. I’m happy to spend money here.”
Next time you go shopping ask yourself: what stores do I feel I belong in, and what does that say about me?
- 3. Sex and food are the biggest marketing forces in the world, because life
It goes without saying that sex and food are absolutely essential aspects of evolutionary biology.
For millions of years, as we’ve developed as a species, we’ve sought out food and sex, for survival and reproduction. And our minds are still utterly hooked on those things.
Marketing executives take advantage of food and sex constantly. Heck, even adverts for hamburgers show sexy people eating them.
Of course, even though we desire lovely food and sex some of us are put off by those things. Many people are offended by the often offensive over-sexualisation of adverts. And while we crave yummy food we all know the consequences.
The ubiquitous nature of sex and food in stores can make you both love shopping and hate shopping.
4. Forced socialism might make you love shopping or hate it
Right now there’s a heated debate taking place in the science community about whether or not prosocial behaviour is the cause of natural selection.
Most human being have ingrained pro-social habits, but the naysayers argue that prosocial behavior is maladaptive since it favours a wider gene pool over any one individual’s specific genes.
This prosocial behaviour means that you’re more likely to favour brands and shops that your social group approve of.
Of course this can be a two way street. Because, on the one hand, you will feel great visiting stores that your friends love. But you hate it when you have to go to stores that normally “you wouldn’t be seen dead in”.
We’ve all learnt these traits from evolutionary biology. And whether you love shopping or hate shopping, every time you go to a store these factors are at play.
Curing Your Shopping Addiction
So you want to know how to cure shopping addiction. You’ve already got enough shoes, and you just can’t stop going to the mall. No sweat. We’ve got the cure for shopping addiction right here.
But first off, before you cure your shopping addiction you might like to know which type of shopaholic you are.
There are various different types of shopaholics. Which type are you?
Compulsive shopaholics: These are shoppers who absolutely feel that they must shop. If they do not shop the feel emotional distress.
Trophy shopaholics: These are the shopaholics who believe that they will find a perfect item, an item so good it will change their entire lives. There’s an item out there that they absolutely need and they will not stop until they get it.
Hey big spender: These guys are all about how they look. They want people to see them carrying expensive new items. They want the thrill of having other people look at them in jealousy.
Bargain Hunt: You don’t want to miss a bargain. If you miss the two for one on Toilet Duck you just don’t know how you’ll live with yourself.
Bulimic Shopaholics: You shop. You give it back. You shop. You give it back. Maybe you just love being able to return items for free.
Collectors: Basically, life is Pokemon. You have to catch them all.
But how do you know if you have a shopping addiction? What if you just like buying stuff? Is it really a problem?
So how do you actually know if you have a shopping addiction? What if it is not a shopping addiction but you’re just someone who enjoys shopping? Why does everyone have a problem with you going shopping all the time? What wrong with doing something you enjoy?
People who have an actual genuine shopping addiction don’t just enjoy shopping. They actually need to shop. Otherwise they will feel terrible.
Just as other addictions, like smoking and drinking, give you withdrawal symptoms, so does shopping addiction.
Have you had any signs of symptoms of shopping withdrawal? When you don’t go to the mall do you feel bad?
Look out for these symptoms of shopping withdrawal.
The Symptoms Of Shopping Addiction
- Shallow breathing
- Feeling agitated.
- Getting mood swings for no reason.
- You can’t focus because you can’t stop thinking about shopping.
- When you don’t shop you feel depressed
- Your relationships are being ruined by shopping.
- You can’t stop shopping even though your credit card is maxed out.
And you may also have these symptoms when shopping:
You buy things you can’t afford even though you know you can’t afford them.
You comfort shop. When you’re shopping you’re not doing it to buy something you doing it to stop feeling a certain way.
You get a rush when you’re shopping, just like how you get a rush from coffee, sugar etc.
The Effects Of Shopping Addiction
There are both short term and long term effects of shopping addiction. Some are obvious and others are not so.
One of the obvious side effects of shopping addiction is that it leaves you in debt. You may even find that you take out a loan just a pay for your shopping addiction. And your finances are soon in tatters.
Another side effect of shopping addiction is on the emotional side. You may feel great when you are shopping. Or alternatively you may fee guilty because you know you shouldn’t be shopping but you just can’t stop. It might get so bad that you end up taking out a second mortgage.
Because you get a surge of dopamine when you shop you may lose interest in other sources of dopamine. This could leave you feeling unmotivated. For more on this read my guide to managing your dopamine levels.
“Am I a shopaholic?” Answer these questions to find out if you have shopping addiction
Do you feel sad, upset, depressed, or angry when you can’t shop?
Do you have emotional reactions to shopping?
Do you continue shopping even though you have a financial problem?
Are you taking out loans to fund your shopping?
Do you buy things you don’t need just because you enjoy shopping so much?
Do you get a high from shopping?
Do you feel hopeless about saving money?
If the answer to these questions is yes, you probably do have a shopping addiction.
So what can you do about shopping addiction?
How to cure shopping addiction
Want to know how to cure shopping addiction? This guide uses mindfulness and vipassana meditation to cure your shopping addiction in as little as ten minutes!
Uhh. . . meditation and shopping. . . ?
Meditation doesn’t have to be about sitting in the quiet in lotus position focussing on your breath. I mean, sure, we love the traditional meditation practices too, but sometimes you’ve just got to get out and get shopping. . . while meditating.
For the purest form of retails therapy you need to learn how to meditate while shopping. Thankfully it’s pretty easy and a heck of a lot of fun.
Why learn how to meditate while shopping: S
hopping is one of the times when we feel desire the most. The problem with desire is that it makes us focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. This diminished both our mindfulness and ability to live in-the-moment, and well as contributing to general unhappiness. Oh, it will also cure a shopping addiction.
Shopping meditation is a dollop of mindfulness with some drizzling of Vipassana meditation. Here’s how to do it.
How to Cure a Shopping Addiction
- Go to a shopping centre but do not take your credit card or any cash. You’re not going to be buying anything.
- Do a spot of window shopping and look at all the cool things you want. Don’t just look though, perceive the items mindfully. Pay close attention to their every detail, looking at the colours, the shapes and so on. This is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness.
- Now, you want to pay particular attention to items you really really want. Anytime you come across such an item, make sure to observe the thoughts in our mind through Vipassana. Simply observe the thoughts that you have in your mind. Tell yourself that thoughts are just thoughts, nothing more. This will give you power over your thoughts (which is a great way how to cure a shopping addiction).
- Every ten minutes make sure to focus on your breathing. Count to ten breaths and then continue the exercise.
Practice this exercise for one hour and you will learn a great deal about yourself and also will cure your shopping addiction, if you have one.
Thanks for reading.