Sometimes Mondays
No Actual Unraveling

Downright Pavlovian

For the last two years, I have been making an intentional and focused effort on reducing the amount of . . . stuff . . . I own.  Call it KonMari-ing or Döstädning or simple de-cluttering . . . I've been On It.

I've cleaned out my closets (multiple times).  I've reduced my personal library (by 30 banker's boxes of books).  I've cleared out my yarn stash (and I'm not done yet).  I've given away bedroom sets and kitchen supplies and linens and holiday décor and bric-a-brac.  

And I've tried to reduce the . . . stuff . . . at the source -- by curtailing what I bring IN to my house.  I've cut down on gift-exchanges.  I've reduced my shopping.  I've gotten much better at telling myself NO.  I recycle catalogs and magazines before I even bring them through the door.

There is so much less . . . stuff . . . in my house now than there was a couple of years ago.  But I still have more work to do!

And then, last week, I had a bit of an epiphany.  About shopping.  (Yes.  It's another True Confessions moment.)

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Okay.  

So I've been a loyal Estée Lauder fan for pretty much my entire adult life.  (It's pricey -- but it works.  My skin is in great shape for a woman of my age-and-stage in life.  Just sayin.)  It all started back in the early 1980s.  When I was lured . . . by one of their free give-away deals.

You know how it works.  You spend $XX on a regular product, and they send you home with a bag of generously-sized sample products and a free-with-purchase make-up bag.  And, in Estée Lauder-land, they do this 4 times each year.  Because the products really do last a long time (a little dab'll do ya!), even a poor grad student's wife (back in the 80s) could indulge in special make-up and skin care products now and then.

The years unfolded.  I continued using the products.  I built relationships with the women at the Estée Lauder counter.  I got moved up to "preferred" status.  Now they even give me a call to let me know it's almost "free gift" time -- and I receive special passes to come in and get my "free gift" a few days before the promotion actually begins.

In other words . . . they treat me like I'm Special.

You know why?

Because I tend to buy at these promotions!  Even if I don't need anything immediately, I will pick something up to have on hand. . . and get the "free gift with purchase."  By this point, my make-up and skin care inventory is full-to-bursting.  I will use the . . . stuff . . . eventually.  But, for now, I definitely have an inventory on hand.

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Yesterday I pulled out my entire inventory of EL products. This is stuff that I have on hand, but I'm not currently using. As you can see . . . plenty.

So when this quarter's promotional brochure (and "valuable coupon") showed up in my mailbox last week, I decided to skip it.
To just sit this one out.  
To simply not show up.
I'd just pop the brochure in the recycling bin on the way into the house.  
Because I don't need any products right now.

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This is my current inventory of Advanced Night Repair. A great product, sure. But this amount will last me for years.

But you know what happened?

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I didn't put it in the recycling bin.

I took it into the house.
And opened it.
And wrote the promotion dates on my calendar.
And pulled out the coupon-card to put in my wallet.
And started thinking about what I would buy.

And then I yelled at myself.
YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING!
And put it in the recycle bin.

And pulled it again out the very next day.

And then it hit me. I have been completely conditioned (in the Pavlovian "classical conditioning" kind of way) to respond to "free gift" time by . . . buying.  Even when I don't need anything.  Even when I know that I don't need anything.

This is NUTS.
This has to STOP.

I finally did recycle the promotional brochure.  And the accompanying coupon.  And I erased the dates from my calendar.  (Because I do not NEED any Estée Lauder products right now.)  (I repeat:  I do not NEED any Estée Lauder products right now.)

This all made me realize how conditioned I am to buy . . . when I've been "trained" to buy.
At "free gift" time.
With "birthday bonuses."
Because they sent a generous coupon.
At the change of seasons.
For the holidays.
Before a vacation.
At fiber festivals.

But now I know.  I'm getting it in a whole new way.  (Thanks, Estée Lauder.)  
It's time.  
I'm going to break free of my shopping Pavolvian response!  

(Please tell me this happens to some of you, too.  When do you buy because you've been conditioned to buy?  And . . . how have you taken charge of your response?)

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