Don’t Shop On An Empty Stomach

It’s a simple rule. Yet so powerful.

If you’re hungry, first try to understand why you’re hungry in the first place. If you really are hungry, and it’s not something else, then just eat something quick, then go shopping. And by “shopping” I understand everything related to how you spend your accumulated value.

But first, let’s talk a little bit about “hungry”.

There are many types of hunger. There is the physical one, which just asks for calories. There’s an emotional one, in which you ask for compassion and understanding. There’s also a social hunger, which aims for recognition and status.

And they all have in common the fact that you’re somehow not complete, not enough. Well, if you start spending when you’re in this state of non-completeness, you’ll go overboard. You’ll try to overcompensate. Not only you will shop to quench your immediate thirst, but because you feel so thirsty, you will aim for way more than it’s necessary in the present moment. And you will get stuff you don’t really need. More often than not, that stuff will just go to waste.

There have been countless occasions when I did my groceries on an empty stomach, and it didn’t end up well. I got home with a basket full of things I thought I needed, but I actually didn’t. It took me some time to understand why this was happening, and a bit more to manage this. It’s one thing to understand why something happens to you, and another one to actually start modifying your behavior.

So, I started to schedule my groceries in advance. Like once or twice per week. I also started to make, and use lists. In the beginning, the lists where on paper, then I started using simple apps, so I can reuse them. Slowly, I got to a point where my groceries were matching my needs. It didn’t work from the first time, it was a process, like everything else.

The same process can be implemented in emotional or social hunger.

For the emotional part, prepare to bring in some close friends, or, if you are really unbalanced, even a therapist. Learn to understand what your actual needs are before engaging in specific interactions. For instance, learn how to differentiate between sexual intercourse and emotional intimacy. So many people are throwing themselves into sex, when what they really want is just intimacy. They want to be seen and need someone just to hold their space. Not to mention that in this process of mistaking sex for intimacy they go way overboard, actually distancing themselves from the initial need, and creating even more hunger.

For the social part, learn to understand where and how your status images were formed. For most of us, they are shaped very early on, in the close family. Your drive to achieve, to set goals and reach them, may be in fact an image you’ve been internalized while you were too little to understand what really works for you. It’s nothing wrong with reaching goals and being popular and having a big impact. If that’s what you really want. But if you’re mostly an introvert and all you need is some quiet dinner on the porch, don’t aim for fancy restaurants and expensive chef-made meals (metaphorically speaking).

Hunger, in and by itself, is just a signal that we need something. Learning to understand what exactly we need, and how to get it, may save us quite some trouble on the long run.

And, of course, it will save quite some money too.

Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash




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