"End buying" is something I'm trying to do. The problem is buying things is gratifying and enjoyable. I often find myself surfing the web wanting to buy things. It's not bad, per se. I don't want to come off like a moral crusader. I am very anxious, generally, about coming off like I'm moralizing in a manner where the object of my ire is an individual engaging in a discreet, individual action.
Via counseling I've been trying to develop my emotional intelligence. My counselor gave me a piece of paper that says "List of Emotions." I think "List of Emotions" would be a great poem title. How it works is I talk about a situation and then try to recognize all the emotions I was feeling and then try to analyze the impact those emotions had on me. It's a useful exercise.
I thought it might be fun blog fodder to write about my efforts to end buying through the lens of emotional awareness. I will list instances from today where I wanted to buy something and try to speak to the emotional contours of the desire. Heeere we gooo!
I wanted to buy a lifetime subscription to FENCE magazine. I received an email from FENCE because I'm a subscriber. I admire the editor of FENCE, Rebecca Wolff. The last few months I've been reading interviews with her, essays by her, etc., re: the work of being a person interested in culture and invested in the creation of it. I was keen on reading the email and clicking links. I found myself on a FENCE page where you can buy a subscription. I clicked on Lifetime Subscription. I felt as though I should buy. I felt a sense of obligation, like given how much wisdom I've gleaned from R. Wolff, I should definitely buy a Lifetime Subscription. I felt shame about wanting to buy even though I've been trying to end buying. I felt gratitude for R. Wolff's ideas. Thinking about the gratitude I felt, I felt inspired. I felt excitement about my own projects. I felt apprehensive that I might not be successful. I felt afraid. I felt mildly exasperated. I ultimately felt weird but somewhat determined to not buy a Lifetime Subscription to FENCE today or any day in the coming months. It was a simple choice but the emotional contours were complex. I'm learning (lol) that emotions are complex. The most operative emotions were gratitude and obligation. These two are linked? The sense of obligation I felt, perhaps, flowed from the gratitude? It might be beneficial to decouple these emotions? To simply feel gratitude? As I write rhetorical questions I recall an instance. A man asked me for money while I was walking. I told him I didn't have cash and asked if I could get him something else. He said food. I didn't feel gratitude during this interaction. I did feel obligation, which resulted in me buying the man food. Here's what I'm thinking: the obligation to the man was external. I saw a man who needed help and felt obligated. The obligation to FENCE was internal. I felt like I should, in order to be a good person who is properly appreciative of the work of R. Wolff, buy a lifetime subscription to FENCE. I will now remind myself that the fact of the matter is I'm a pretty good person and my feelings of appreciation for R. Wolff's work are 100% legitimate even if I never spend another penny on FENCE ever again for the rest of my days. So yeah, idea: when they emerge as a pair, decouple the feelings of gratitude and obligation.
Since this reflection on wanting to buy a lifetime subscription to FENCE was more involved than I expected, I am going to forego analyzing the other two instances where I felt the desire to buy today, but I will list them.
I wanted to buy Tribes by Seth Godin.
I wanted to buy a Fitbit Flex 2 wristband.