July 27, 2021 3 min read

Nobody wants to be unintelligent nor does we want to dislike ourselves, but the truth is that we are not using enough of our emotional intelligence in the purchase decisions, and our excessive purchase behaviour is, in part, explained by our lack of self-esteem.

We give in more easily to the temptation of personal satisfaction than to more altruistic decisions. Altruistic because most of our purchases are not the result of basic needs and thus, there is a price to pay for that (and it is not the tag one).

There is a double cost: a personal and a collective.

A personal cost

Many studies explain that quick and impulsive buying mainly results from emotional reasons. In other words, it is an emotional behaviour. Without noticing, by giving in to this impulse of the “non-essential” (and often unplanned) purchase we are nurturing a personal satisfaction, which is insatiable and only stops when we buy again. Unconsciously, we are reinforcing the habit and the need for more shopping. It's an addictive hedonism.

Companies opportunistically exploit this. Investors are betting on those who know how to sell fast. Did you know that one of the main criteria for the financial evaluation of a Start-up is the number of customers with registered credit cards in the company's system? These entities have already realized that if purchases are made on impulse, the process is much faster, and the guarantee that the customer will not give up is higher. As most of the times these are not basic needs, if it takes too long the customer will eventually give up and shop where the experience is easier and faster. Even if they have to pay more.

Therefore, before buying, we should ask ourselves: what is the real need behind this purchase? Will I really use or consume this? Do I want to fill an emotional void with the purchase? Do I want to impress someone? Do I want to present myself in a specific way?

If we did not buy too much or follow the impulse of our emotions, maybe it would be an opportunity to be more aligned with ourselves and be more authentic.

In addition, many studies confirm a correlation between excessive purchases and lack of self-esteem. People with less self-esteem and little fulfillment are more likely to shop unnecessarily. What if the opposite is also true? What if overbuying deepens the lack of self-esteem?


A collective cost

We are more than 7 billion humans and the current level of consumption is already unbearable. Imagine what would happen to the planet if everyone had the opportunity to follow this impulse?

Can't we change our habits? From my own experience, and by default in my profession, I know how difficult it is to change them. I am actually an optimist, but in this respect, I have often been a victim of my own positivity.

The good news is that you can train yourself. Neuro plasticity has already proven that we can change cognitive processes and learn to manage our emotions. Ever heard the expression “neurons that fire together wire together”? It means that it is possible to train the mind, learn to manage emotions, and permanently adopt new habits.

To change habits, we all have to start with the bottom STOP. Gaining awareness of what we feel, of our emotions. Perceive the emotion, feel the temptation to come and, before buying, be able to ask yourself: do I really need this?

Recognising emotions helps us identify their source. This, in turn, leads to the unlock of old habits and the adoption of new ones, more in line with our values. It helps us also prioritise, think and act mindfully based on what we feel. With the information available today, it is easier to know what is right. If we all change our consumption patterns a little bit, that is already a lot.

The icing on the cake is that, as you become aware of your emotions, the ability to STOP before reacting will begin to extend to other dimensions of your life. In other words, by training our attention to our minds and emotions, we are creating conditions to increase our long-term self-esteem and well-being.

When in doubt, be selfless. Think about others, the future, and the planet.

And, perhaps unconsciously, you will also be taking care of yourself.

Joana Cunha
Joana Cunha

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