Retail Therapy is Not Therapy

In fact, maybe just the opposite.

When something is therapeutic, not only should you feel good, it should give you a sense of fulfillment, and maybe even bring you closer to others around you. Shopping only does the first part — makes you feel better — and only for a short stint.

The long term effects are that it causes you to want more. The next best thing. The next upgrade. And we become addicted to the chase. We begin chasing, for the sake of chasing. Not because the thing we are trying to purchase is a necessity.

Focusing on the next thing is no way to live. There's plenty to be enjoyed now, if we only spent our time appreciating what we already have instead of being infatuated with what luxury to pursue next.

Most of us have water, food on the table, a place to live, and a means to make money to uphold a basic standard of living. That means we have extra money and extra time. It's more important than ever to ask ourselves what we are doing with the rest of the time. Are we enjoying it with loved ones? Deepening relationships? Appreciating the fulfilling and nuanced life that we live?

Or is it just a chase for the next thing, all so you can continue the pursuit for the next thing following that?

Retail therapy is not therapy.

On the other hand, appreciation therapy might be a thing. Appreciation is a way to spend our time, just like shopping is. Except it does everything shopping doesn't do well. It nourishes our soul. It deepens emotional connections with others and builds relationships. It emphasizes that we can be content with what we already have.

I suppose one thing appreciation therapy doesn't do well is acquire material things. But what big deal is that, for someone who has decided that material objects aren't all that important.

What's the worst that can happen?

My single biggest source of stress seems to be overwhelm at work. Feeling like I don't have enough time to finish my deliverables is what gnaws at me every day.

The strange thing is, I've never not finished what I promised I would. I am not so sure what I'm worried about.

Then again, it could precisely be that I finish the work because I am worried. Does that mean that if I learned to cope with the overwhelm effectively, would I be less effective?

I am a little afraid to find out. But being consistently overwhelmed is also not productive as it can lead to burn out and even resentment in some scenarios.

As with most other difficult situations, it seems to be that shedding a light on negative emotions with a big-picture perspective helps alleviate my concerns.

What's the worst that can happen?

This question seems to magically align big picture priorities in my life and make clear what I'm worried about, and whether I should be worried about it.

In this example, it highlights that, at its core, a job is an economic trade for the employer's money and my time. They pay the market rate for the skillsets I provide, and either one of us could walk away should the deal be too unfavorable for either side.

So if I don't do well, the worst that can happen is that I lose my job, and I continue by searching for a new one. Sure, it'd be inconvenient, but it would not cause a permanent emotional wound, like say, losing a loved one would.

This process of asking myself, "What's the worst that could happen?" seems to be my go-to method for dealing with professional overwhelm.

Maybe my worries are just not that big of a deal.