I don’t know about you guys, but I used to be one of those people who would spend money before we even had it. If Friday was payday, I would have planned out at least 3 things I was going to buy 3 Fridays before this one.
When I was doing photography, I would PLAN on getting paid for my sessions, spend the money and then have the session fall through only to kick myself for having spent money (quite literally) that I didn’t have.
Living in this manner would have been easy to continue, but let me tell you, internally I was a wreck. It felt like I was always on a treadmill believing that I was going to get to some final destination of happiness and contentment. I wanted so many things, craved so many things and yet…time and time again, I was left there just hustling and running and never getting anywhere.
Now, if you’re totally relating to this, I KNOW this cycle is hard to break. I know it’s hard because I broke it and it was awful and sometimes I’m still not sure if I’ve made it to the other side. But here’s what I’ve learned and here’s what I want to talk to you about…
If you can effectively learn to slow down your wants, you will increase your haves.
Now, learning to slow down, learning to pause isn’t easy. In fact, it usually goes a little something like this:
You get swept up in the desire to do/buy/get something. Every fiber of your being gets excited about this thing. You feel so happy, you are sure that this is a golden ticket opportunity and you completely turn off your thinking brain.
For anyone who struggles with this type of buying, it’s important to recognize that you would be categorized as an emotional buyer. When you start to feel this burst of happiness and excitement, you have found something that you believe will shift the course of your life and meet one (or most likely more) of your emotional needs.
I won’t. OK. That’s why you have got to get good at pausing.
Pausing feels like you are going to jump out of your own skin.
One time, smack dab in the middle of healing my shopping addiction, Tom wanted me to go with him to Under Armor so he could try stuff on and get my opinion. I sat there near the waiting room, legs shaking, eyes darting around finding cute things in every corner, and every fiber of my being wanted to jump up and fill my cart with everything I could find. Pausing felt awful.
Your head starts to tell you, “Get this thing NOW or it’s going to be gone, you fool!” (Listen to last week’s podcast episode for more on this) This goes quadruple if you find yourself surrounded by “LAST CHANCE” “SALE” and “CLEARANCE” signs.
PS, did you know these signs are designed in every way, color, size, phrasing, to give us that sense of urgency – and therefore turn off our thinking brain?
Yeah, it’s bananas.
So, what happens after the pause?
Well, to be honest, you might give in, I know I did for years.
I would try to be good (usually from a place of feeling guilty for my spending), and give in and buy something off the clearance rack, or I would take on a new venture I didn’t have the time or energy for – and that’s what is important to remember. This conversation isn’t only limited to STUFF. It spans to the things we agree to do, the things we sign up for, the new projects at work that we eagerly take on because we believe it will benefit us in the long run.
If this happens, it’s OK. There is literally no use stressing about the past. All you can do is take a lesson from what went wrong and move on. This was something I kind of got good at at a young age because I realized it just didn’t serve me to wallow in the past. Also, make note that when you can move on from failure other people will be pissed. They will be mad that you don’t sit in regret, get depressed or berate yourself. That’s not to say, that you shouldn’t FEEL anything from your failures, its’s just saying that we don’t need to live in them.
And side note, when you learn to stop living in your failures and giving them any of your attention, you have basically no choice but to keep moving forward. That’s kind of awesome, right?
You might feel joyless.
When you have learned that your happiness comes from a new purchase, prioritizing someone else’s happiness or being praised for your work ethic, it can feel like NOT doing this things is depriving you of joy.
In a way, it kind of is. And I’m not gonna lie, it sucks. BUT, if you can comfortably sit in the uncomfortableness of it all, you stand the chance to allow yourself to think about happiness that is bigger than that. Life that is bigger than you have previously known.
It’s kind of like breaking up with your first boyfriend or girlfriend. You just can’t imagine life without them, everything feels like a downhill spiral and you aren’t sure you’ll ever feel…up…again. No pun intended, fellas.
What you are really doing in the midst of this transition is telling your brain what isn’t working and forcing it to find new solutions.
This doesn’t mean moving onto the next addiction.
“I gave up cigarettes and now I just drink a pop – sorry, soda – whenever I am craving one.” Before you know it you’re trying to kick pop.
It’s about feeling the unhappiness that you were trying to hide with external rewards, so you can cope and move on.
Self development books/speakers/podcasts
Fill your awareness with people who are the level you dream of being on (even if you don’t believe it is possible.”