Black Friday: Shopping

Black Friday is a day like most others, though with more excitement, spending, and anxiety for most people.  The holidays in general can wear some down for a myriad of reasons, but there is something to learn and to accept in every season.

In the US, it is the biggest shopping day, the most important day for many businesses, and an adventure for many shoppers – this is Black Friday in its best light.  In its worst, we see people trampled, rampant greed, and disregard for thought or consideration.

It is important to stray from an us vs them mentality.  It is important that we are aware of this trend in ourselves or in society because there is nothing more dangerous and corrosive.  To view people as an other starts with a divide in ourselves, in perfectionism or fear.  But if we come to peace with ourselves, we can be at peace with others.  Shine your light, but let others have their virtues.

Habits are not inherently bad of themselves, but they are warped and twisted through desire or lack of awareness, but honesty is our saving grace.

Questions:

The root of excess in shopping, like any addiction, is important to examine.  What do we derive from this habit?  When does it go past the point of benefit for us?   What drives our compulsion, what triggers?

Here are some ideas of what could drive negative shopping patterns:

1. Self-esteem. 

If you have a low view of yourself, but higher view of others, you may go after careers or novelty with determination, but none of things resolve what is inside or make you feel worthy.  None of those things matter after a while either, because the soul of man isn’t found in searching.  The further we get away from things that make us feel well, the less at peace we feel, and the more likely we are to keep searching.  We can shop and live with intentionality and with a focus on the pragmatic.

2. Image.

Image is important to most people.  This is because it takes effort to look past the surface, and we live in a visual culture.  Also, the surface is easier to alter than engrained patterns.  But a generous increase in beauty or packaging will not increase the quality of what truly matters in life, not even in relationships.  If that were so, supermodels would never divorce.   People are who they are.  It is a fallacy to equate beauty to quality, but rather, beauty is attached to opportunity, like education or any other societal focus.  But without peace inside, more opportunity means likely more mistakes — and with peace inside, there is nothing to prove.

3. Security.

If we have more of something, then for sure we will never lack and for sure we are less likely to hurt.  People will always need us more than we need them.  There are so many places to put fears, but nothing resolves fear except courage. The courage to be honest and objective, the courage to accept limitation.  Equanimity is the answer to setback; fear weakens our strength and misguides our aim.

4. Contentment.

A chasing of novelty, a feeling, or certain look, to maintain or control moods, has its root in discontent with how the moment is.  Our thoughts, technology, and fantasies move faster than life.  Combine that need for pace with an unstable childhood, then you get fluctuations of discontent and low self-esteem, ripe for marketing.  There is no extra human value in possessions or beauty, just attention.  Superficialities do not improve self-worth; it only improves the image guarding it.  You don’t have to prove or be anything, to warrant consideration or value.  You have value now.  How few can listen, be present, how few can care or practice humility.   There are so many things of great value to society that doesn’t require spending.  There are so many activities and pastimes to take part in, that don’t require a dollar.

5.  Dopamine.

To search and to find a prize is the part that serves.  The validation from having possessions or a certain look were addressed above, but the good feeling associated with finding is real.  It can be found in many other ways.  For me, being around green plants, getting sun, seeing a favorite clear item in my house, petting Pat, sitting on the table working on a new project, walking outdoors, encouraging others — there are so many ways to feel good, that we can afford to give up some of the habits that weigh on our health.  Peace of mind is greater.

Ultimately, a shopping dependency is an internal problem, and it can be resolved through being present, showing gratitude/meditating, building habits in line with internal values, and focusing on others.  When we get outside ourselves, we find ourselves.

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