Do you buy stuff to feel better?
My wife is never satisfied with what we have and it is really hurting our marriage. As soon as we get a new house, she wants a new car, new clothes, new furniture or an expensive vacation. She can’t be happy unless she is getting something new. What can I do to help her be more satisfied with what we have?
The need to buy things, to validate our worth, is a common problem in America. I believe it is a reaction to the two core fears we all struggle with most. The two core fears are:
1) The fear of failure (not being good enough) and
2) the fear of loss (that my life won’t be good enough).
Which of these do you think is an issue for your wife? (Readers should ask themselves these same questions.) Is your need for stuff driven by a need to feel better than other people? Does buying stuff give you a sense of value or security? What is the underlying fear you are trying to quiet through shopping?
Are you trying to prove your value, get validation from other people, protect or hold onto what you have or get things that will make you feel safe or better about yourself? I believe 80-90 percent of human behavior is driven by these fears.
A non-scientific study of Commerce Department data suggests that American consumers spend $1.2 trillion a year on non-essential stuff. Clothes, cars, jewelry, candy and trips would all fall under this category. That’s a lot of things we don’t need just to quiet our fears or make us temporarily happy.
The problem with getting ‘things’ to validate your worth or make you feel better is the satisfaction is quickly replaced by the need for other things you still don’t have. You can't get enough stuff to make this feeling of need go away.
The only way to win this game is not to play.
We must stop basing our value on our appearance and our assets. We must eliminate the underlying subconscious programs of fear that drive this need and replace them with a more accurate one.
Your current thought process (subconscious belief) probably says something like … if I have new stuff it makes me feel important or special. If I have the best stuff and lots of it, then I have more value as a person. If I have the best stuff and look good, people will approve of me, which will prove my value.
The problem is, none of these are truth.
Even though there are some people who will judge you based on your assets, in the end, it won’t matter what they think. You are the same you either way. The people who matter in your life will love you for who you are and how you make them feel. Your love is what matters to them.
A new, more accurate belief would be:
My value is not affected by what I have. It is not affected by what people think of me or how I compare to other people. It is not affected by how I look or what I have.
My value comes from my infinite and absolute worth, my heart and my love. It is based on how I treat people, my choices and my character. I don’t need stuff to feel important and valuable. My sense of value comes from inside me and is based in who I am, not what I have.
I will choose to win hearts and make friends with my love. People care more about how I treat them than what I have. I will focus on making other people feel valued instead of trying to validate my own worth through my stuff.
Instead of focusing on what I have, I will focus on what I give. I will be a force for love in my family, my neighborhood and my community. I will work hard and do my best at everything I do, and I will do these things because I love God, life, other people and myself. I will be driven by love, not fear. I will not let "things" come before people and my relationships.
Changing the way you think about yourself and your life, and focusing on love for others instead of your fears about your value, will help you eliminate a need for stuff over time. This will be a process, though, and will take some time to change.
If your wife is open to changing herself, you might show her this article and encourage her to work on a healthy mindset around her value. I would also highly recommend some professional help to work on her self-esteem. At the end of the day, this problem is a self-esteem issue.
Most marriage problems are self-esteem issues, in fact, and they have the power to destroy your relationship if you don’t fix them. You may have to insist on some coaching or counseling if necessary. A little professional help on overcoming the two core fears above will do wonders.
Remember that life is a classroom and you are in this class together for a reason. You were drawn to this person (your spouse) so you could teach each other important lessons. You are meant to figure this out and grow from the experience.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a life coach and speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.