Retail Therapy and Spirituality
This post on retail therapy is post #7 in my series on financial freedom and spirituality.
I have a horrible financial confession to make. Â In month #4 of my focus on financial freedom and spirituality, I have gotten off course with my budget. Â No, I didn’t buy emergency-worker-yellow high heels to wear, but they did get my attention. Â But I’ve discovered something about the connection between retail therapy and spirituality, and I’m a little queasy with the realization.
As I write this, I am finishing my fourth month of focusing on paying off old debt (including my house debt) and I’m very proud of where my discipline has gotten me. Â I have paid off the car and I’m down a total of about 30k from where I started, with my focus now on paying off the house while putting something in savings and retirement in preparation for my upcoming furlough and subsequent pay cut. Â I’ve shared a few ways I’ve made this big dent, here on this blog, and I’m less-than-gleefully sharing my pitfalls.
After three months of really sticking to my budget and figuring out where I spend money (not exactly where I thought, to my surprise), I have my budget fairly well in hand. Â I still have a few itchy spots to work on to make it perfect and reliable, but I think that by 6 months, it will be rolling like clockwork. Â Except that in month #4, just as I was really getting the hang of it, I blew it. Â Why the sudden loss of discipline?
A few huge emotional challenges.
First Challenge and Results:
A very close and deep relationship ended early in the month, sending me reeling for the first two weeks. Â It’s been better since, as we are talking and redefining and trying to figure out what next. Â I became completely ungrounded. Â I have a deep spiritual practice, and yes, I know how to ground myself. Â This was too important, too upsetting, for meditation, ritual, or prayer. Â There are other ways to ground–food, working with the earth in the garden, physical exercise. Â All very much first-chakra methods. Â I’ve been through tragedies before, including deaths, illnesses, breakups, etc. Â It’s been a long, long time since anything has affected me as deeply as the loss I perceived at that time.
I ate more than I should have. Â I also walked an extra 5 miles a day. Â I’ve not done much gardening this year–saving the money I would have spent on flowers and garden for the furlough cuts. Â Plus, daily thunderstorms kept me in the house. Â I did lots of mundane chores in the house, including cleaning and clearing, that usually help ground me.
But once I stepped into a couple of stores to pick up some mandatory items–a gift, a replacement for a medical item, a replacement for another that can’t be repaired–I found myself picking up a few extra things that I could live without. Â It was almost addictive but felt more like a salve for my wounds. Like a drug. Â I didn’t quite understand it then. Â I did this week, though.
I’ve had really no issues at all staying on budget. Â Even in the stores I love. Â Yes, it’s easy to not buy something if I stay out of stores, but I also can’t show up for work in something sloppy or too casual, and with the change in season, that’s meant a few new items, though each has been carefully chosen to stay on budget. Â So going way off budget after an emotional upset gave me cause to stop and examine what was happening.
Second Challenge and Results:
This week, something happened that really floored me. Â It’s related to the previous emotional upset, and while I won’t get into details, it involved an incredible number of things lining up that Â I could never have foreseen or planned in a million years. Â I was in the strangest place at the strangest time and under the strangest conditions, none of which were of my intended making or planning. Â I witnessed something very specific to my life and the people in it. Â Let’s call it the Mother of All Coincidences.
Life can turn in an instant when the Universe lines certain things up to happen, and all I could do was–after freaking out–just step back and say, “I’m gonna let Deity take care of this one. Â I’m just gonna watch and not worry about what will come of this.”
It was such a God-moment to see this happen in this way that I became completely ungrounded. Â My BP and pulse shot sky-high. Â Afterwards, I sat in my car for a while in a random parking lot in the rain, trying to ground myself. Â I talked to my brother, talked to my daughter. Â Talked to some of the folks at work. Â Tried to calm down.
Food, I thought. Â But no, that’s a bad way to ground myself. Â The only food close by was loaded with sugar and gluten, and both are a bad idea.
I’ll go home and walk 10 miles, I thought. Â But it was raining too hard. Â Feet against Earth almost always works for me, but not this day!
Then I noticed the store next to the random parking lot where I sat with my BP and pulse still elevated. Â I had an item in the car that I needed to return, one that I’d noticed had a flaw when I got home with it. Â Once in the store, I felt the call of all those items I didn’t need, and some that I did (work-related). Â I ended up leaving an hour later with a few small things that I’d already budgeted for, again work-related, but the experience lifted a veil for me.
Making the Connection between Retail Therapy and Grounding
Whereas all my other disciplinary prowess was strong, it failed in times of extreme emotional duress and emotional/mental “ungrounding.” Â In the first case, I’d lost the person who has for years been my gravity as well as my wings. Â In the second case, I was so tied into the immense spiritual aspects and idea of Deity at work, that I could not come down from my clouds and find the solidity of Earth. Â I couldn’t ground myself through normal easy relaxation techniques (I’m usually well-grounded) or through more difficult and focused methods. Â When all else failed to ground me, I gravitated toward grounding myself by “acquiring the weight of physical stuff.”
Yes, the same kinds of physical “stuff” that I’ve been getting rid of, decluttering, lightening myself up spiritually.
I was ungrounded, and I needed to weigh myself down to feel tethered to the planet and reality, so without diagnosing what the problem was, I self-prescribed Â retail therapy.