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Stopping your Shopping

This article takes you through my journey to add more beef to my piggy bank and avoid waste, by stopping excessive purchasing.

Image: I have bought many unnecessary but pretty notebooks in my time.

I am on a low “wage” for my country: The Disability Support Pension ($500AUD approx./fortnight). However, I add a little to my “piggy bank” online savings account every fortnight. I reckon I’m going as well as expected given my shitty brain health and 2-minute-noodle-allowance each fortnight.

But I’ve been greedier than I care to imagine.

Yep, I used the ‘g’ word! I buy many things I don’t really need. For example, I buy most of my clothes at the local Salvos, but also some at my local Westfield. Then my cupboard gets too clogged, and I have to purge from it once a year or so. When I think I need new clothes – when actually I don’t – I’m really being wasteful. (Ever heard the “reduce” in “reduce, reuse, recycle”, Larz??)

I have tossed and turned trying to curb my unnecessary purchases, not knowing if I would succeed. I brainstormed solutions: listening to The Minimalists podcasts, reading the Less Stuff book by Lindsay Miles and The Minimalist Home book by Joshua Becker. (Both can be borrowed from the Brisbane City Council library online if you have an account). I tried making goals to save more for larger purchases. I tried urge surfing (noticing the urge as it changes).

I even thought deeply about appreciating knickknacks I’ve bought in a Marie-Kondo-slash-gratitude-journal way to gain satisfaction.

Nothing created traction though.

As I tried different strategies and failed, it dawned on me that this was a mild addiction. So, I checked the library website for addiction books. I found one that seemed particularly promising: Woman of Substances by Jenny Valentish. Eureka! One subtle phrase in the book made a big impact:

Rejection Sensitivity.

Apparently if you have a prominent rejection sensitivity and/or impulsive tendencies, you are more likely to become addicted. I’m not that impulsive but I am pretty sensitive to rejection. All of the ads I see every day, and the pressures others have given me around fashion and technology etc. have compounded this sensitivity in me.

Rejection is a key fear for most people because humans function best in co-operative groups. It is natural to want to conform to gain acceptance and thereby gain help and nurturing from society.

But is it natural to be bombarded with constant pressure to conform to an exceedingly unlikely image?


Companies prey on our natural fears in order to earn their massive profits, day, by day, by day.

Due to this pressure, we push our own securities on others too. We critique dress sense and product choices. We one-up each other with expensive, unnecessary goods, or “great buys”, and conform to different trends almost weekly or even daily.

My conforming to this mass waste is not moral or needed.

So, after all, it was not singularly about controlling an impulse to have fun. I realised more pertinently it is about feeling that ephemeral relief from rejection from society.

Don’t get me wrong, others may have a different experience. I bet a lot of westerners/Australians feel the same, but I can’t speak for everyone, so I won’t claim I am doing so.

When I heard those words, “rejection sensitivity” I felt… connected to my fears, but also embarrassed of the greed, rather than analytically trying to control it. After all, we don’t change from analysing ourselves alone. We do when we have a new emotional reaction.

Next, I noticed that I had, for example, a plentiful amount of good quality clothes and other products. So, what was I worried about? Worried of a future of not fitting in that wouldn’t happen for 5 years or so? I’m sure a lot of Aussie men and women are in the same position with their items (or even homes).

Am I still addicted?

Well, I feel more capable of testing the status quo, wearing out my old clothes and using up my plethora of funky notebooks before buying more. I’m now questioning what rejection I’m hoping to avoid by purchasing item x. I feel like I’m now able to use all the techniques from sources I already mentioned. I can build my confidence in myself with what I already have.

As for you, why not contemplate your own reasons for consumption? Are you as worried about rejection deep down as me? Have you ever tried to curb your shopping? Did you succeed? If you like psychological conversations like me, you may in turn find your own insights. Could take a while though. Took me months. Have a sit on your Old Queenslander’s veranda with a cuppa and a friend and see what you come up with yourself.

- Larz



Hi there,

Lauren Sims is an artist and author from Brisbane, Australia. She has recently become and author and will be releasing her first book in late 2022.

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