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Stop Retail Therapy: An Honest Guide To More Bliss, and Less Guilt

Consumption and the desire for it is open ended-there is no end to it. Modern consumerism is particularly based on the manipulation of masses through Freudian psychoanalytic techniques. It thrives on people’s insatiable greed for material things, thus giving rise to concepts such as ‘throw-away-culture’ and ‘Retail-Therapy’.

Especially nowadays when consumer choices are almost endless – people can choose whatever style, size or model they like. Faced with too many options, though, there can also be a sense of confusion between what is innately desired and actually needed and what is being externally imposed by clever marketers and paid influencers, leading to frustration and worrying about whether the right choice was made.

Photo by Gemma Chua Tran

Retail therapy works because shopping can be a rich source of mental preparation. As people shop, they’re naturally visualizing how they’ll use the products they’re considering, and in doing so, they’re also visualizing their new life. And, as many great athletes will attest, visualization is a performance booster and anxiety reducer.

Fast fashion brands’ business model is to sell inexpensive clothes, the design of which imitates catwalk trends and delivering new collections approximately every two weeks (in fact, Zara adds new styles every week), to young people. Brands target the 20 somethings whose annual incomes are expected to grow over the span of their careers and capture their loyalty. But in the era of overflowing choices, easy finance, FOMO, and instant gratification, this is also the generation that does not know the concept of ‘enough’; what it means to have just a couple of pairs of shoes and truly live with material scarcity.

The environmental and social problems associated with the abundance of things is such a monster for the fashion industry and it is no secret that most of these items are rubbish and barely add any value to the consumer’s life.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said “The earth can provide for every man’s need but not every man’s greed” and this is especially true when we consider the limitations of our ecological world. So, we researched and came up with a guide to help you consume less and eliminate the fear of missing out.

1. The more you buy, the more you have to lose

In stores, products are measured in dollars and cents. But as Henry David Thoreau once said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” We don’t buy things with money, we buy them with hours from our lives. Thus these impulse purchases end up costing us more than we realise.

2. Find your spending triggers and combat them

When you're feeling low, you take a look at whatever's bugging you. Rather than trying to shop away the bad feelings, let yourself feel low. After all, there's a reason you feel bad. Our culture tends to send us a message that we should be happy all the time, but the reality is it's okay to feel sad or angry or anxious, and it's not something you necessarily need to "fix."

3. Buy what you really need or want

It's easier said than done especially when we live in a society where our self worth is tied to the amount of things we possess but ultimately these objects just end up cluttering our lives. The key is to do mindful shopping and look for things that will add value to your life.

And if you really have to shop then you can look for second hand stores also.

4. Choose quality products that will last longer

Once you start buying less you start saving more. And with these savings, you can invest in something of higher quality that has been built to last. Higher quality does not necessarily mean a higher price, do your research- look at the materials used, place of manufacturing, customer reviews etc.

5. Capsule wardrobes

Limit yourself to 25-50 pieces including shoes and accessories and get creative with the items you already own.

Art by Stephanie Cartledge

6. Set a monthly budget and monitor your spending

Spending is our default solution to a problem- Need to get fit? Lets buy new gym wear or equipment. Seeing how much your spending on clothes, electronics and other luxuries can be a wake up call, and makes you more aware of how you are spending your money.


When we make a purchase and/or get what we want, we are temporarily happy and fulfilled. But the reason for happiness is not because we got what we wanted, but because for a brief period of time, we stopped wanting, and thus we experience peace and happiness. So pursue higher goals like better friendships, relationships or love. As Andrew Morgan said-

“What if we started by slowing down and not consuming so much stuff, just because it’s there and cheap and available. It’s amazing how that process makes sense financially, it makes sense ethically, it makes sense environmentally.”

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