How to Drop the Guilt and Become a Mindful Consumer

mindful woman

Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

When I talk about minimalism, I’m not talking about never enjoying a purchase ever again, Neither am I trying to make you feel guilty about the things you enjoy. I may have purged 80% of my stuff over the years, but even I enjoy a bit of window shopping to admire my favourite anime merchandise or a beautiful dress. And I would hate for these stores to close down due to a lack of business. 

Consumerism itself isn’t bad. It’s all about being mindful and not buying something just because you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses or satisfy the never-ending itch for more. 

Ultimately, minimalism is about being intentional with what you own, and being aware when you make purchases. It is about getting the most out of life and realising that happiness or peace isn’t found in acquiring more. 

But buying or keeping something you genuinely love and will be happy to maintain is absolutely fine! 

Hell, about a month ago, I bought a figurine from a videogame I absolutely love, but I’ve been obsessed with the game ever since it was released in 2008 (that’s a long time to be crazy over a game). So I immediately jumped on the figurine of the main character, Neku, where he sits on my shelf with two other videogame figurines. 

I was intentional about the purchase because every time I look at it I’m reminded of my love of the game and the characters in it, thus I don’t mind giving it a spot on my shelf and treating it to a dust-off every now and then.

However, what this doesn’t mean is that I will be keeping this figurine until my death. I enjoy what I have in the seasons of my life and if the time comes where I need to let these things go, I will do so. 

If I did happen to keep something for the whole of my life, as long as it was intentional, that’s OK because it means it will have been loved. Keeping something just because it was hard to let go of isn’t intentional and leads to unused clutter taking your space and time. Keeping something because it is loved and brings you happy feelings and memories whenever you see or use it is intentional. 

The old me would buy something, see myself having it for life, then passing it on to fellow collectors (where it would be worth a large house in the suburbs, the price of the latest game console, or a bag of chips). 

Now I have a 9 month old baby, a 6 year old autistic son, am learning to drive, and am turning my career around, there’s no time, space or energy to worry about what my stuff might or might not be worth in the future. The focus is on the present. 

Honestly, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve made a purchase only to realise it didn’t align with where I was going, or didn’t really bring me joy. I ended up either selling these things at a loss or simply giving them away.  Many of us make the same mistake because these things are shiny and exciting in the moment. 

You could spend your limited time and energy feeling guilty, but getting to know yourself and what you need or want in life is a learning process. And learning almost always involves making mistakes. 

It’s also worth remembering that as humans we are fluid and our interests can change several times over the course of our lives.

So if the above sounds like you, cut yourself some slack and simply remind yourself to be more aware in the future. And if you fall off the wagon, don’t sweat it. Simply get back on it and learn from the fall. 

It’s difficult to change consumer habits when society and marketers tempt us on a regular basis to surround ourselves with more and have the best, but with a shield of self-awareness we can re-align ourselves with what really matters.

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