Sad and tired looking woman sitting on the sofa surrounded by shopping bags

Ditch the Guilt Now!!

So, you’ve saved up your cash. You get into your car and head off on a shopping adventure. You feel SO excited: you are meeting a friend, you haven’t been shopping for ages and you deserve a few treats.

The day starts off brilliantly! It’s a sunny morning, so you and your pal catch up on the work or family headlines while pootling about in the shops, trying things on, giving each other feedback and generally having a very nice time, thank you. You hunt out a few gorgeous items and make some purchases. Everything is good.

You sit down for a spot of lunch (Pret A Manger Roast Salmon and Avo Superbowl) and while your friend is paying for her food, you survey your purchases. This is when the mood suddenly changes. You start to feel queasy. You keep the smile on your face as you attempt to make headway with the salmon, but inside you are thinking ‘Oh GOD! What have I done? I’ve spent so much money! I shouldn’t be buying ALL these new things!’.

After lunch you valiantly head back out into the sun and try your best to get back that ‘can shop’ attitude, but it’s no good. The guilt has kicked in. You’ve got an attack of Buyer’s Remorse.

Why does this happen? Financially solvent women KNOW they need clothes to wear, HAVE the cash in their bank, and yet STILL feel guilty for shopping!

I’m here to tell you, you aren’t alone. It happens to me too! Sometimes I’m horrified when I tot up how much I’ve spent, even though it’s the exact same amount I decided I could afford before I left the house!

Here’s why I think it happens. It’s linked to impulse buying. Somehow, your brain is connecting the new items you’ve bought to the unworn, unloved items still hanging in your wardrobe. You may be thinking (consciously or unconsciously): ‘I don’t deserve new things, because I’ve still got unworn items at home.’ Never mind the fact that the unworn items don’t suit your colouring or your body shape, and make you feel fat or frumpy every time you try them on.

If you’ve ever had a kick in the head from Buyer’s Remorse, I have three points to make:

1. Stop impulse buying

Busy, organised women rarely turn up to Waitrose and drift about in the aisles randomly flinging things in a trolley. We have had the power of meal planning drummed into our heads for decades. Now, we know we must write a list and follow it to the letter in the supermarket. And, yet, a supermarket sweep is the exact approach we take when we go clothes shopping. We rely on impulse buys. Snapping up anything we love – or anything that fits – without once stopping to consider whether it matches our other clothes to make a complete outfit. I’ve written about this before. The big takeaway: make a list of what you need and stick to it.

2. You have a right to own new things!

You should know deep in your heart that you deserve nice things to wear. Buying clothes along with all the other self-care practices that make you feel looked after and valued are vital for happiness. Too many of my clients have struggled to justify allocating time and money to looking after themselves properly. If you don’t think you deserve to be spoiled occasionally, read this. If your guilt is coming from an ‘I’m not worthy’ place it could help you to think through whether this is serving you in the long run.

3. The mental checklist

This is the one that helps me. Whenever I’m shopping, if I find something I love and want to buy, I run through the questions below in my head, and I ONLY proceed to the cash desk if I answer yes to all of them:

  1. Do I know when and where I will wear this new piece?
  2. Do I love it as much or more than the clothes I am wearing today?
  3. Do I have the right things to go with it or the budget and time to buy what I need to make it work?
  4. Am I prepared to care for it properly? (i.e. if it’s dry clean only or hand wash, will I be bothered to take the time to do this? There’s no point in acquiring something lovely, only to leave it festering in your laundry basket because you never go to the dry cleaner.)

If you have honestly answered yes to all these questions, and the item is on your ‘need’ list, buy it without the guilt. I think you’ll find that you get so much wear out of this bona fide purchase that you’ll feel good about it. Keep doing this and over time, you’ll be able to say ‘bye-bye’ to the Buyer’s Remorse and replace it instead with a good healthy dose of Buyer’s Smugness.

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