One doesn’t need much awareness to see that consumerism is a big part of the modern day world. And depending on one’s point of view or position, it can be described as either positive of negative.
A small company or large business for example, that’s main focus is on selling physical items, might be only too happy with consumerism. However, for the consumers who are in tune with their environment; consumerism is likely to be seen as negative and dysfunctional.
The above could be classed as a stereotypical outlook; as there are now many individuals and companies that are working to conserve the environment through the use of sustainable sources. And there are also consumers who are not too concerned with the environment either.
However, my intention is not to look at whether consumerism is good or bad or right or wrong; it is to give my current view on what could be one of the causes of consumerism.
There are many causes involved and this is simply my opinion of what one of those causes might be.
Means To An End
There are a lot of products and items available that are an important and essential part of one’s life. And then there are products that are purchased for different reasons. One of these reasons is to create a change in how one feels.
This means the product per se is not necessarily needed; what is needed is the affect that the products give the individual. Here ones mental and emotional state will be altered, through acquiring a certain product or item.
Here one will be able change how they are feeling and thinking through having this item. And all or most of what is going on internally, will then be replaced and regulated through this outside influence.
Now, this may last for a short period of time or even a long period of time. But what is certain, is that it won’t be long until the next thing is needed to regulate this inner tension.
For some people this process will be a day to day occurrence, with their always being something that one needs to feel happy or content. And on the other end of the spectrum, this may be the odd occasion when one feels down and seeks the odd item to regulate themselves.
There is also the constant media influence that is trying to convince people that a certain product will lead to feeling fulfilled or to a place of happiness. This can lead one to believe that external consumption is the answer to their inner instability.
When it comes to looking at who is going to be vulnerable to these behaviour tendencies, it brings ones attention to individuals that have difficulty in regulating themselves. If one doesn’t have the ability to do this, it is only normal and natural that one would look outside of themselves.
This process will often go on out of one’s awareness; so that as soon as the tension or conflict arises, one consumes something. And before the emotion, thought, feeling or sensation has the chance to enter ones attention, it is repressed and covered up.
On one side there are the internal processes that are the result of day to day life and the challenges that it presents. These need to be regulated and dealt with in a healthy and functional way.
And on the other side, there will be internal stressors and conflicts that will be the result of unprocessed childhood trauma or stress for example.
The latter will also influence and affect the former. So by dealing with the latter, one is likely to notice a difference in the experience of the former.
By being able to regulate ones inner processes, one will have a sense of inner stability. This is not to say that this individual will always be calm and collected, it means that this person will soon return to their centre. And perhaps, if they are unable to do this for themselves, then they will feel comfortable enough to ask another for assistance.
But for the habitual consumer, this ability is not there. And just like how a drug addict is addicted to drugs, one can become addicted to extreme consumerism.
The ability to self regulate is typically formed during ones younger years. And whether one has this ability or not will largely depend on whether one was around people at a young age that could regulate them. So if ones inner processes were mirrored, validated and acknowledged by the people around them, then this ability would then have been internalised.
However, if this wasn’t the case, then as a child one would have had to deal with their emotions or thoughts in others ways. And in ways that were probably unhealthy and dysfunctional. This could have been repression, projection, denial and/or through a host of other ways.
Pleasure And Pain
If this ability hasn’t been developed in ones younger’s years, it could mean that as an adult, one will not have the ability to deal with their internal pain. Whereas a person who was regulated as a child, is highly likely to have the ability to self regulate. And the act of consuming allows one to feel pleasure and to avoid pain.
The ego mind has many defence mechanisms that it can use. And avoiding pain is its number one motivator. As I have mentioned above; sometimes this pain is years old and sometimes this pain is from a recent situation. And where this pain does come from will define what actions need to be taken.
But even though it could be pain from the past that needs to be dealt with, this can influence the present challenges in one’s life and this shows that there is no separation. One area or a time in one’s life cannot simply be separated from another; it will always contaminate the rest of one’s life.
So consumerism can be seen as another option that individuals use to deal with pain. And there are many other options available to deal with pain. Consumerism could also be a consequence of people not being in touch with their own purpose and to consume then seems like the only purpose that exists.
Giving and receiving is one of the dynamics of life. If we only take, we will be out of balance and if we only give, we will also be out of balance. And so consuming is but one side of that dynamic.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.