Monthly Archives: November 2014

Day 4: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit


I’m not going to write a lot today. I spent most of the day out of the office running errands.

In a conversation with my friend and coach Lynn Ellis, I had some insights about the nature of addiction and finding different ways to deal with the feelings I use addictive behaviors to avoid.

The main points of our conversation were:

  • Where I feel most challenged is when I don’t feel validated by other people or I’ve disappointed them, etc.
  • But I have no control over whether or not people will approve of me. I guess as a business owner I began to believe I could and should be pleasing people (customers) and I based my feelings about how good I am as a human being on whether or not people liked my services.
  • If people don’t like my service I may not have a business but doesn’t have any effect on my worth as a human being.
  • So why did I still feel so bad about my self?
  • Lynn’s suggestion was to take time this week to contemplate who I really was. I like this idea and I’m going to use a picture of myself when I was a baby as a way to remember my “whole” self. The reason I like using my baby picture is I can look at my baby picture and see my true self without the baggage of bad decisions and behaviors.
  • That essential self doesn’t change and my essential self is whole and lovable. It’s only after I add all the layers of shoulds, coulds, etc that I lose touch with myself.

What I’m getting at here is I want to learn to love myself and have compassion for myself. I’d like to get to the point I can express myself clearly and completely in the world knowing that whatever the reactions are, it really isn’t about me. I’d like to get to the point in which my first priority is to live in a way that reflects my values.

On a different note: one reason I stopped shopping online was the amount of time I was spending on shopping sites as well as the time I spent trying things on and returning things I didn’t like. I’m already spending a lot less time on email because so much of my email was from retailers announcing “new arrivals,” sales, “the perfect party shoes you must have this season,” etc.

I was spending at least 30-minutes going through my inbox. I only spent 15 minutes on my email yesterday and today.

It’s nice to be experiencing positive benefits so early in the process. Yay!

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Filed under Compassion, Mindfulness

Self-Compassion – Buddha

Buddha Quote

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November 12, 2014 · 6:14 pm

Day 3: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

I decided to rename this “kicking the online shopping habit.” Although going on a “fast” has become super fashionable these days it the word still connotes giving up something I love and deprivation. Although online shopping feels good in a creepy instant gratification way, I wouldn’t say I love it so much as it sets me up to feel compelled to do it.

It’s been two full days since I stopped shopping online. I should stop here and give myself a pat on the back because I really have stopped. I’m not even “window shopping.” If I’m doing research on a project that’s a little different but I’ve been limiting my searches to search engines and haven’t actually visited any sites whose purpose is selling stuff.

MC900238229 So I’m throwing in some virtual balloons, confetti, and champagne to celebrate this fact.

Yesterday, I mentioned that online shopping is a type of addiction for me and I want to write more about that.

I haven’t yet felt anything like withdrawal’s only been a couple days but I have noticed at times how I’ve used online shopping as a way to avoid doing something unpleasant: making a difficult phone call, cleaning my office, or working out.

I’ll be done with my routine work like checking my email and going over my list of things to get done and now faced with the prospect of something important but unpleasant I’ll suddenly get the idea that “I really need to find a nice pair of shoes to wear with that little black dress I just bought.”

And three hours later, half the day has literally disappeared and I realize I haven’t gotten anything at all done. I remember one time when I started shopping at 10 am and only stopped because it was 6pm and had gotten so dark in my office I couldn’t see the keyboard anymore.

The funny thing is, usually the next day, I look at whatever it was that I was so obsessed with finding and don’t get why I would spend so much time compulsively searching every nook and cranny of the virtual universe. But that’s the nature of the online retail universe. It’s a lot of gaming .. that sense of achievement “Aha I finally found a pair of size 81/2 Frye boots in Palomino Tan!!” has those components of hunting and catching that wire right into my hunter gatherer brain.

I think it’s that perception and achievement and success that feels so good. Not to mention the perception that by somehow having a particular item, I’ll feel happier and more fulfilled. As though that object is a kind of magic talisman which will somehow enable me to be more than what I am.

I also am realizing that I can’t do things I don’t enjoy in hopes of finally being to do what I do enjoy. One of my coaches told me I would have to do presentations and call everyone I knew to invite them to attend those presentations in order to have enough clients to work with. I wanted to have the clients and I wanted to coach them because that’s what I enjoyed. But I didn’t really enjoy the cold calling. In fact I hated cold calling.

So it takes time and I’ve realized I need to find things I find intrinsically satisfying and am happy to do to attain the longer term results. But because this is a relatively new insight, I ‘m not sure what that work would be for me.

And I’ve been engaged in a lot of trial and error to discover what it is that I enjoy doing and can be a viable business. Trial and error means sometimes what I do isn’t very fun. It also means maybe what I’m working on will pay off and maybe it won’t.

Shopping online has bean a way to feel like I’m accomplishing something useful and a way to avoid the discomfort of uncertainty and to avoid doing things I find unpleasant, tedious .. even painful.

I guess looking at it this way, it makes sense that I’ve been spending a lot of time shopping online.

My one concern has been if I stop shopping online will I find other distractions and addictions that allow me to avoid the stuff I’ve been avoiding?

Yeah, duh!

So the question to explore is how can I frame things differently and do things differently so I don’t lapse into yet another addictive behavior?

Mindful Self-compassion feels like a fruitful place to explore.

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Filed under Celebrate, Habits, Work and Joy

Day 2: Online Shopping Fast

Hand lettering by Lisbet Boudens

Hand lettering by Lisbet Boudens

When I told someone about my 30-day online shopping fast they said, “Good luck with all the temptation.”

My son spent six weeks off the grid in Ecuador and said he didn’t miss the Internet at all while he was there. But as soon as he returned to the States he found himself back on the net watching Youtube videos and playing games.

I can relate to the desire to spend time in a place where there’s no Internet and therefore no way to relapse.

Sometimes I think it’s necessary to take yourself out of an environment that working on you in a negative way. I prefer not to go this route because at some point I’m going to have to re-enter the world and deal with it.

On the other hand, there are usually things I can do to alter my current environment. I’m a big believer in creating environments that “work on me” in positive ways. This is something I learned from one of my coaching instructors, Thomas J. Leonard, that rather than rely on our own will power, why not change our environment to support the change we want to be?

It’s an intriguing idea and in most cases one that’s underutilized.

After writing yesterday’s blog post, I checked my email and found three holiday promotions. I don’t subscribe to many retailer updates because the most retailers send daily updates (I don’t get why anyone would want daily updates from any company let alone the Gap or Saks Fifth Avenue). But there’s a handful of retail newsletters that still find there way into my inbox.

So when those emails show up, I’m unsubscribing.

Retailers whose updates I canceled yesterday:

  • Fancy
  • Kate Spade Saturdays
  • Blog Lovin
  • IKEA
  • Klury
  • Marimekko
  • House Industries (a typography studio which also happens to sell some really cool products…love the company and their products but at the moment it’s too easy to get lost on their website not to mention take off to visit partner sites).
  • Cuyana (another retailer I appreciate but don’t need the temptation)

At one point I was setting my Gmail filter so emails from retailers went directly into the trash. But I found myself actually going to my trash folder and moving these emails to my inbox.

That’s why I need to stop getting the emails entirely.

One good question is why do I feel so compelled to shop online to begin with? Good topic to think about and perhaps address in a blog post.

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Online Shopping “Fast” – Day 1


For a while now I’ve been thinking about the power of habits.

The word “habit” comes from the Latin word habitus —  condition, character, demeanor. The root meaning is “to hold,” which can be either in offering or in taking. Applied in Latin to both inner and outer states of being.  Habit can also meaning “to dwell” (habitat) and “to dress” (a nun’s habit).

The modern use of the word, habit, as a “customary practice” began 700 years ago. I’m guessing it evolved out of religious practice because religion was such a huge cultural influence at the time; it was important to know the time of day so you knew what prayers to say.

What’s interesting to me is how “habit” in Latin could refer to both the inner and outer states of being. The Romans placed great importance on character and bearing. That what was inside shaped your appearance.

I like that idea because I’ve been focusing on what’s inside…my values…when it comes to influencing my decisions, and actions.  This is often very challenging because outside influences can be so strong.

Part of this shift has been to spend less time on the Internet. I find it’s easy to lose, literally, hours by surfing without much purpose. It’s also easy for me to become obsessive and the obsession can feel like a purpose.

For example (this feels really embarrassing) yesterday I got the idea that I should find a scarf I saw for sale on earlier in the year. It was a nice scarf. As I recall it had a hummingbird or a dragonfly motif and came in two colors: black and amber. All of the sudden it seemed absolutely essential to my happiness that I find that scarf and buy it.

After I spent an hour trying to find the scarf on I searched Google and finally tried to find it by using the Wayback Machine to look at the scarves sold back in January and February.

I probably would have spent the entire evening trying to find this scarf if I didn’t need to start working on dinner.

So you could say I’ve developed a bad habit of obsessively searching the Internet for things that aren’t very important and I may add which aren’t bringing anything useful into my life. If I were a researcher or detective this might serve me but even then, you have to know when to quit because at some point, the possible benefits of the search are outweighed by the normal activities of life.

I’m thinking about committing a 30-day period to “unmaking” habits that no longer serve me. The habit of shopping online feels especially pernicious lately. There are lots of good reasons for doing a 30-day online shopping “fast.”

  1. I don’t need most of the things I buy online. I have more than enough clothes, office supplies, books, etc.
  2. Most of what I can buy online can be bought in the bricks and mortar world.
  3. There are other things I’d rather spend the money on.
  4. It takes up huge chucks of time finding things, trying on clothes, and then returning what I don’t like.
  5. It occupies my mind and when that happens I’m no longer mindful. In fact I often find I’m in a kind of “fugue state” when feels uncomfortably close to an addictive state.

These are pretty compelling reasons to go on e 30-day “fast.”

I also find that regardless of my success, the effort to change a habit is often enlightening. It’s hard to know the obstacles until you go on the journey.

So I’m going to consider today, Day 1 of my online shopping fast.

I’ll write about my experience on a daily basis as a way to keep accountable and so I can share what I learn with others.


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