Lifestyle What drives us to compulsive shopping?

What drives us to compulsive shopping?


The true need that hides behind the consumerist impulse is none other than to obtain the protection and care that we did not receive during our childhood.

We are a society in which we are all aware of what we obtain, what we consume, what we incorporate and, above all, what we believe to be our “needs”. It is common for modern and urban people to have as goals in life to achieve a good job and earn enough to increase our comfort. The problem is that, once we manage to buy an object, we long for a similar, bigger and more beautiful one. And that’s how life goes. Why is this happening to us?


I think it has to do with the quality of the mothering we have received , and I am not only referring to what our real mother has done with us but to all the situations of protection, care and support that we have received or not during our early childhood.

Most of us have not been satisfied in our original needs because the patriarchy, the culture, the fashion or the opinions that circulate and that we adopt establish this. And also because of the disability of our own mothers to lavish protection on us, who in turn were not sufficiently nurtured by their own mothers, who in turn carry difficult stories of loneliness and helplessness. And so, generation after generation.


Sometimes, while we are babies or young children, we decide to adapt that is, we pretend that we don’t need what we need. And we managed to survive.

This means that we have relegated to some gloomy place the basic needs that have not been satisfied. But these do not disappear. The most profound experience, displaced to the unconscious, is that of continuing to be needy.

We also train ourselves to be always attentive to any need that may arise, in order to satisfy it immediately. This is a key point immediacy. Just as the baby needs the breast “now”, the eternally needy child or adult, whatever they need, needs it “now”. Otherwise, the pain will be excruciating.

It may help us to think that our parents are also those kinds of needy children. They educated us surely with the best of intentions and believing that they were doing all the right things. But unconsciously, they put their own needs before those of any other individual.

Thus, as children, we have learned to satisfy our emotional needs the contact, the adult’s gaze, the understanding, the dialogue and the accompaniment in the discovery of the external world by moving them towards objects that we could “incorporate”. By not being able to incorporate “mom”, we were incorporating “substitutes”. Desperately.


Desperation is also a central issue, and that is that there is no middle ground in primary need. Like a baby, who despairs in the absence of the mother’s breast, every needy individual has the urge to obtain something to calm him down.

This dynamic is so frequent that today our life is regulated by the addiction to the desperate consumption of whatever we can buy. Shopping centers have become a must, a protective cave where we feel good. We all buy and buy. It does not matter that. What matters is that there is an excitement that calms us, nourishes us, rubs our skin with a sweet sensation of well being.

This type of permanent purchases, and the fact that almost all of us work with the same parameters, ends up being something common. Therefore, it is very difficult to detect the pathology of individual behaviors.

We all feel, especially when we go shopping to cheer ourselves up, that there is a relationship between consumption and emotions. All these collective behaviors reflect the need to “voraciously incorporate” whatever it takes to survive and are displacements of primary needs that have not been satisfied.

Now, these needy children have become the adults that we are: we continue to be attentive to satisfying our hidden needs in any way. It does not matter that they belong to our childhood because, for our psychic structure, they are still as high a priority as when we were children.

We are fully aware of what we need we believe that it is about money, social advancement, good work, home, vacations, clothes, music or electronics. But this is not about this. We are orphans of “mom”, but we do not know. And not knowing it is the big problem, because we shift our supposed “needs” towards objects that, we suppose, are essential for living.


Consumption is a shared and invisible behavior. But is it wrong to buy what we need? Obviously, there are many things that are essential.

The clue is to check if we are ever able to “choose” not to buy , or reduce the number of objects, or if we are able to “choose” what we really want or need, without the adrenaline that is supposed to be buying.

Often the object chooses us. When this happens, the act of buying becomes a drug. Yes, the object “desires”, and we are left at the mercy of the desire of that “other”. It seems implausible, but this is how it works.

Let’s do the test let’s try to define, in the midst of the shopping maelstrom, if we are the ones who want or if the object directs our action. Perhaps we realize that we are subjected and lost in relation to ourselves, as much as we were subjected during our childhood to the wishes of the elders when no one took into account what happened to us.

Like other addictions, compulsive shopping gives us security, that is, they give us “mom”. And when facing stressful situations, for example, a social gathering where we do not know anyone, a labor meeting, a possibility of work or study in short, a “new” situation and outside the daily routine, we take refuge in compulsive shopping beforehand to withstand stress, just as the child takes refuge in the mother’s arms when he must enter a different place.


With this grim outlook… what emotional capacity do we have to dedicate ourselves to raising a child with genuine needs? Very little, obviously. What capacity do we have to be altruistic, to dedicate ourselves to our partners, family or friends, putting the needs of others first? little. We are still hungry to fill our emotional hunger.

Now, if we are interested in leaving the consumer circuits , we are obliged to recognize, first of all, our disabilities and primary handicaps with awareness, with understanding of our own life history, and not stuffing ourselves with new objects.

Then maybe we can make amends and be attentive to what the other needs, who needs something different from us. And if we find it intolerable to respond to the needs of the other, we should ask for help, not so that those other calms down but to calm ourselves before our consuming need.

Addictive use reflects unmet child needs. How much money and suffering we would save if, simply, our mother had carried us longer in her arms and had been attentive to our genuine claims.

And how easy it is to pave the way for our children today, how easy it is to listen to them and lift them up, understanding that, simply with that, they will become healthy and confident men and women.

MindFixes Staff
MindFixes is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and advocating, educating, and serving all people with mental and substance use conditions. MindFixes is determined to persevere, learn, grow, love and laugh through our wellness journey and we invite all to join.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest news

As an Extrovert: You’re Allowed To Embrace Your Inner Introvert

Learn to embrace who you are, be authentic—you are whatever you create. I’ve been an extrovert for the majority of...

20 Reasons Not to Drink Alcohol

Some healthy advice to myself and others For many people, drinking alcohol is just a fun way to socialize or...

Moods or Emotions: What influences us the most?

Pride, compassion, envy, melancholy: what emotions invade you today? Moods are more subtle than emotions but can significantly affect us....

What Enemies Teach Us

People with whom we have less affinity can help us to be more patient and calmer, to discover our...

What are the Behavioral Differences Between an Introvert and A Schizoid?

What is Introversion? Introversion is a normal variation in temperament. Introverts are born rather than made. In general, introverts “refuel”...

15 Wise Strategies to Get Closer to Happiness

Living with fullness and serenity does not depend on others. It is a personal decision. To find your own way to be...

Must read

As an Extrovert: You’re Allowed To Embrace Your Inner Introvert

Learn to embrace who you are, be authentic—you are...

Moods or Emotions: What influences us the most?

Pride, compassion, envy, melancholy: what emotions invade you today? Moods...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you