Day 219: Is Your Identity Bought?

I recently participated in a google hangout on Shopping Addiction that was really cool and here is a link to it so you can watch it: How To Tell if You Are A Shopaholic?

In this discussion a very cool point was brought up by Anna in relation to shopping addiction and one of the reasons behind why we would shop and buy things we don't necessarily need. This was the point of buying an 'identity' for yourself, or 'upgrading' oneself by buying new things and feeling like they are somehow going to make you better, like a better version of yourself, in a way. And I could really directly relate to that point as well, as that was also the primary point I found within myself, driving me to go shopping and buy things I didn't necessarily need.

We didn't get to open that point up in the hangout in the time that we had, so I'm opening it up within this post to look at this point in more detail, as I'm sure that there are many out there who would also share this same point, as it's really the foundation of the consumerism we've become on a large collective scale. Because it's easy to see that happening from a distance, in a way, like it's easy to see how as a whole we are consuming way more than we need, yet it's quite another thing to actually find the points within oneself, that is leading to this behavior on an individual level.

So, I did indeed find this very point within myself when I started investigating this point for myself of what is what that I was looking to gain from shopping. It's like I wanted to buy something that would make me feel better, like I am better or my life is better in some way because I have bought and acquired something that is going to improve me in some way, which when you look at it, all sounds really bizarre, doesn't it? Like how can a thing, actually make me or my life better? How can some object actually make me a better person or change who I am? Like, if I have this thing, then that means that I am somehow a better person, more effective, more attractive, more in-style, and basically have more/higher 'status'.

But what I had to realize is that no matter what I bought or possessed, it never did actually change me, as who I am. I was still always the same. And once that item wore out or broke, then I would feel depleted in some way, like I lost whatever I thought that item was giving me, because I'd used it to define myself and who I am.

So it's like, I made myself a slave to objects, in a way, because who I am would change in relation to what objects/possessions I would have, or wouldn't have. Where if I lacked possessions, or if what I had like for example with clothing, if the clothes that I had weren't in style, then I felt less and inferior and like society is going to judge me and see me as less/having less status.

And all of this is really bizarre, when you consider how there are places in the world where this definition according to what you have just cannot exist, in places that are poor and therefore less commercialized, where it's simply not possible to buy new/modern/in style products because they don't exist, and so you can't form an identity/self definition based on clothing and accessories.

When you place all this into perspective, and really get to see how we believe that we are somehow 'improved' or more 'superior' based on such things, you really see just how strange that is, like we are dressing up for a costume show and pretending we really are the character we're dressing up as, and like life is our personal movie and we are the star of the show. But once you can distinguish between the actual personal and the fake cover-up, it really is strange to see what we believe and have given power to have an affect on us. It's almost like the clothes are wearing the human, and the human is just acting out the role they've selected according to the style they've chosen. Very strange stuff.

Because I also noticed how with wearing different clothes and accessories, I would actually experience myself differently, and even act differently, based on what kind of clothes I was wearing, as if the clothes/outfit somehow gave me 'permission' to play a certain role. Like dressing 'sexy' for example. An interesting experiment would be to see if/how you change when wearing different clothes/accessories, to see how one has defined oneself according to what one wears, and to consider what if you didn't have those things to define yourself, who would you be?

Through uncovering these points for myself, I have been able to stop defining myself according to what I have, and therefore to no longer be, in effect, mind/behavior controlled according to what I have/don't have, so that who I am no longer changes without my direction according to my possessions, and through this building a me that is constant and stable and not requiring products to have a sense of self-worth or self-esteem, because it's ideas like that, where we believe that we need things outside of ourself to complete us, that really feeds consumerism. For a great documentary series on that, suggest to watch The Century of the Self, which shows the history of advertisement and how it was deliberately created in order to give individuals that very idea that you require some product to fulfill or enhance you as a person and that products can change the way you feel and experience yourself, and so this idea did not even come from ourselves, but has been impulsed through media until we took it on as our own self-belief.
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