Shopping can trap us in a “loop of loneliness." That’s the takeaway of a new study. It found that most people shop for one of two reasons. Either we’re looking for a mood boost to pick us up, what experts refer to as “retail therapy," or we’re shopping as a means of “social comparison.”
For example, we might admire the things other people have and want to have the same things for ourselves Or we think it’s important to have a lot more stuff than everyone else. The problem is when we shop to make ourselves feel better, it backfires and makes us feel even more depressed and alone. Because not only does the shopping high wear off quickly, within hours, when the credit card bill comes, we often realize we spent way too much, and we get even more depressed. And that’s how we get trapped in a vicious “loop of loneliness."
Our loneliness makes us more likely to shop, and shopping makes us more likely to feel bad. The fix? Experts say we’re less likely to get trapped in that loop if we’re “contented consumers." That’s someone who appreciates new things, but who’s also happy with what they already have. So for example, instead of thinking “If only I had a new car I’d be happy," a contented consumer thinks: “I’m happy with my car, but if I had a new one with better gas mileage, I could take more road trips to see my friends."
Bottom line: Think carefully about why you buy new things. If you’re already happy with your life, then your next shopping spree is less likely to trap you in a loop of loneliness.