Tag Archives: Internet Addiction

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 pains..it’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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Filed under Habits