Let’s imagine that your mind is a giant store, the kind with multiple departments and all kinds of merchandise from practical and essential right through to the luxurious and high end. Since this store is your mind, you’re the only customer. Oh, and you also have a pretty generous shopping budget! All the merchandise in the store symbolize your thoughts, emotions, memories, urges, etc.—everything that goes on in your mind is right here on the shelves and in the aisles of this department store. Some of the merchandise you really like, some you don’t. Some of it seems really important to you, and other items are trivial. Some products are useful, or fun, or trendy, or straight up unhealthy. Just like in real life, you probably have positive or negative judgments about lots of the items in the store, and others you just feel neutral about.
As a customer of this store, you don’t really have direct control over what merchandise the store stocks, but you have control over what you buy, what you invest in, and what you go into debt for! Your purchases will probably influence the store’s future inventory. For example, if you buy lots and lots of staplers, the store will likely order more. And if they continue to sell out of staplers, the store will probably make a bigger stapler section to accommodate the apparent demand. So as customer, you do have some control over what the store sells, but it’s a slow power, and there are no guarantees—it’s really ultimately up to the store what’s on the shelves.
So you can’t control what’s on the shelves, but you do get to choose what you buy and what you take home with you. There will be products that you don’t like, that don’t bring anything positive to the table, so why do you buy them? Are there any thoughts or feelings that you’ve “bought”into that have actually made your life less rich, things you’ve “bought into“that have diminished or derailed your happiness or self love ?
What does it mean to “buy” a thought or feeling? It means you’ve “taken it home with you”, you’ve taken it down off the shelf and turned it over in your hands before making the decision to leave the store with it. To “buy” a thought or feeling is to think you own it, to strongly identify with it as part of who you are. It might also mean you feel you must act on it. Or to put it another way, you believe this thought or feeling as if it’s real and not just a thought or feeling. It’s to mistake it as a solid object rather than just a passing experience.
Spend some time thinking about what it means to “buy” a thought or feeling, link this concept to personal examples if you can.
It’s not easy to scale back our spending, to make conscientious purchases and to stick to a budget — we’re often tempted by products that deliver short-term benefits at the expense of long-term well-being. We sometimes think we need something we actually don’t, or get addicted to buying things in general. Even if we try to avoid the store altogether, there are bound to be reminders about what to buy in the form of advertisements, societal messages and pressure from our peers.
Ultimately, though, the “merchandise” you buy into and focus on is your decision. You decide what come home with you and what remains untouched on the shelf.