What do you need?

If we have full bellies, a roof over our head, clothes on our back and some free time plus access to more of the same, then I believe we live in a state of privilege. If we also live in a country that is democratic (though some may dispute that now here in the UK!) and that is for the most part safe and secure, then we have double the privilege.

If we then go shopping as a hobby or pastime, are entertained by watching pretty mindless TV, games and other social media, we eat crap food and buy “stuff” which we don’t need that probably ends up in the charity shop before long, then we are, in my opinion, squandering our privilege. 

We are all one on this planet, one race, the human race. We share more in common than we don’t yet we with the privilege do, oh so little, to help those without it. Worse still we actually add to the misery and suffering by our very everyday life-styles.  So much of what we buy, is TOXIC. It’s toxic because it’s full of yucky chemicals which harm us and harm the planet, but they also harm the people who produce the stuff.  It’s toxic because it costs human lives to produce; people die, are maimed and live slave-like lives so we can have these things. If we ingest, wear or use these products we are partaking in this toxicity.

It’s time to wake-up and to stop moaning on about how THEY should do something:

YOU should do something,

I should do something,

WE ALL should do something.

And do you know what one of those something’s is?

CHANGE YOUR SHOPPING HABITS.

I’ve been trying not to buy stuff over the last few months. I am failing miserably at times but on the whole I am doing well and learning such a lot. When I say stuff I mean anything other than what I need. Sometimes the urge to shop is great, it would be so much easier than having to come up with an alternative, or to make-do or mend or rummage around until the damn thing is found!

It all started out when I was sorting out my wardrobe and looking at how many clothes I had, and more crucially, how many I had but rarely wore. The curious thing is that despite having loads of clothes I could still be found in local charity shops flicking through the clothes racks, kidding myself that it’s ok because it’s second hand. On other occasions I would find myself near actual shops and think, ‘well I don’t live near any big stores so I can allow myself a little treat and have a look around, I might see something I like.’ 

The crucial thing here is: something I like. For God’s sake the consumer culture is designed to make sure there will always be something I like. It’s dripping with stuff we “need” so we can live the lives dictated to us through our corporate controlled media.

Lastly I would go internet shopping. I prided myself on the fact that most of my purchases were ethical in that they were either second hand or organic, so much better for the planet and people producing them, right?

Yea, right Mairi, dream on. If I am essentially buying something I really do not need, and which in all likelihood will be discarded at some point, then it doesn’t matter how ethical it is, it’s still unnecessary stuff, using up resources, people and places to be produced.

But the bottom line was, that when I saw all the clothes I already had something clicked inside me, and I decide to see what would happen if I didn’t buy anymore unless I needed them. This has expanded now to me trying not buying much except what’s necessary. On top of that I am challenging what need  means for me.

gallery-04I am fortunate I think, in that I lived on a small boat for a year so I know I can happily live with much less. I know what it is to manage with what I have and how that is often a much more rewarding and creative way to live. However I also understand how very easy it is to fill the space I have, and that is something I seem to have been pretty good at. Over the last few years I have been clearing out a lot of my clutter in an effort to simplify my life but I have still been bringing more in, often stuff I did not need.

Now NEED is a curious word because I am sure it is possible to generate a million reasons why we need something, but in truth the majority of these will be wants. I need a pair of black leggings to go with my tunic, I need something nice to wear out to dinner, I need a pink cardigan and so on. I do not NEED any of these, they are in essence wants. What I NEED is clothes on my back and I have tonnes of those. I may fancy something else but I don’t need it.

Real needs are when we don’t have a bed for the night or food to feed our families, when we are not safe, when our future is precarious and uncertain.

  • What, I wondered would happen if I said no to all these internal nudges to shop and made do with what I already have?
  • What would it be like to actually use them up?

Well it’s sometimes a challenge, sometimes, a delight and sometimes becoming more and more of an enjoyable situation, and yes I do slip over into feeling “full of myself” at times for being so super duper. Sad human that I am!

If we want to change the planet we have to change ourselves. Hell will freeze over before most corporations or Governments will change, unless we, the people, put so much pressure on them they have no choice, so we must start with ourselves.

If you know there are changes you could make, if you know you are still caught up in buying stuff you don’t really need or for that matter want but you can’t seem to stop yourself, you are not alone. Many of us struggle with these issues. We know what the better choices are but we can’t seem to make them.

We come up with a zillion excuses and out comes the purse again and off we go. It’s cheaper, it’s just this once, it’s special, I’ll do better next time, I haven’t got time to think about it today, it’s all too much, it’s …………..

It’s likely that there are underlying patterns and beliefs running that are driving our behaviour, and it is these we need to address if we want to change.

The best place to start is by raising our awareness around our shopping habits:

  • What are you doing?
  • When are you doing it?
  • How do you feel before and after you do it?

You can read more about Awareness in this post What Blocks Us From Achieving Real Change In Our Lives – Part 1, Raising Awareness.

The patterns and beliefs we uncover can be dealt with, we can be relieved of whatever traps we are in and we can be FREE. Free to choose to support a more sustainable way of life on earth for all. Think about it for a minute…………………………………………….

If some future human, a descendant of yours came flying back through time and asked you why you are buying that, and in what way it will contribute to their future and the future of all of life on earth, what would you say?

Changing the way we shop can feel scary, change is scary, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it, and the other side is such a glorious place to be. We can look back and feel proud of ourselves for what we have done, the changes we have made, the contribution to creating a new and beautiful, caring, kind, fair world for all.

“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.”
Herbert Otto

If struggling to change alone is becoming too much and you feel like giving up, give me a call. Change Is Always Possible, but sometimes we need a hand to get there. You can contact me here.