Is our self worth determining our shopping habits?


My sister has told me numerous times that she refuses to shop at a thrift store. To the extent that my Mom and I have learned not to invite her anymore. The call to spend hours stacking possible second-hand options into carts, pulling them on over our clothes and judging the value of the treasure had zero appeal to her.


And just last year, over a cup of matcha green tea and wearing her signature black felt hat, my good friend expressed the same feeling about vintage shopping. She could not bear to shop at a thrift store but would consider antique shops for a one-of-a-kind piece of mid century modern furniture. She admitted she wouldn't even know where to begin upon entering the overcrowded, under-organized spaces. Instant confusion would set in and smash any bit of curiosity that may have brought her there.


After a lifetime of cultivating the best personal practices around sustainable fashion, working in fashion design and being deeply inspired by The Curated Closet, I "thought" my shopping patterns were totally responsible. But it wasn't until I started stress testing my personal values and worth in other areas of life, that I realized that maybe, just maybe, I justified thrift shopping as being sustainable, instead of admitting that I could very well not feel like I was worthy of anything else.



I justified thrift shopping as being sustainable, instead of admitting that I could very well not feel like I was worthy of anything else.



This didn't come up overnight, for sure. It showed up in a "teacher" who told me I maxed out my salary growth in my second year in my management position, and from another "teacher" who changed my management role at a company I worked at while I was out on maternity leave. It showed up in people who I considered friends, who were actually giving me plenty of practice as a lower companion and where I could safely nestle into a zone and remain a small target



I learned that these behaviors are all the work of shadows and limiting beliefs. At a very specific point in my life, my brain programmed the limiting belief that I would not be loved and accepted by my peer group if I tried to be more successful than them. Not just that, but it also programmed myself to avoid the problem further by simply staying small (which is total evolutionally bullshit, right?). From high school, to college, I never seemed to be short of "victims" who didn't want to stray from the norm. 


Debbie Ford, author of “The Shadow Effect,” was a true pioneer in this area of our dark side. Instead of burying it, the beauty comes when we see it and feel it, we recognize the frustrating cycles that come as life tests and when we decide, this time, we will lean into the pain and face it. 



...this time, we will lean into the pain and face it. 



So that's what I did, with the help of Lacey Phillips from Free & Native , the motivational words of Brené Brown and her book "Rising Strong" and the utter discomfort of my mom who gently and lovingly listened to all my discoveries in defense of, well, my Self. 


I began to discover the sources of my limiting beliefs and shadow. I wrestled with my trigger words delivered via judgments running through my mind when I met a true mirror in life. It's amazing how judgmental our consciousness can be. I would cringe while listening to someone with undeniable talent bashing their creative work, that meant "perfectionist" was my trigger. I would emotionally retract after hearing a story of how my friend was in an unhappy relationship, "weak" would show up right then. And I would feel bursts of heat in my face with any words of criticism from my Dad, and "failure" would ring loud and clear. 


Boom, gotcha little triggers of mine.


And while triggers are now fodder for my own salacious research, I realized that we are all effected differently. My sister grew up in the same household as me, with the same parents, opportunity and her own set of gifts but her self worth stands squarely in the 4 walls of a Nordstrom, Kate Spade or Tory Burch store. 


So the next time you are out shopping, consider your worth. Is the space low energy and do you find yourself there time and again? Do you buy cheap? Do you buy fast? Do any of those words trigger you, perhaps? In the words of Debbie Ford, "We are all human emotion, we are everything. Dormant or alive." It's what we do with those words, that allow us to bring our best self into this world each day.

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