Stories and lies.

The stories and lies we tell ourselves about our stuff.

Every time we buy something, we tell ourselves a story.

Sometimes that story is, “Last week my boots broke and they can’t be fixed. I need boots because winter is coming and without them, my feel will be cold.”

Pretty straightforward (with a small Game of Thrones reference thrown in for my own entertainment.)

But other times we tell ourselves more intricate stories about the stuff we want to buy. Often these stories are created by advertisers, marketers, magazines, social media and celebrities. And many of them aren’t so much stories as lies we tell ourselves when buying stuff we simply want.

These all condense down to one underpinning story-lie:

If I buy this thing it will make me better.

That might mean it will make you funnier, or sexier, or happier. It might mean you become more interesting, more hip or more respected. It might make you a better mother, friend or husband. It might make you run faster or train harder or look cuter at the gym.

Whatever your rationale, you are trying to convince yourself that this thing – these jeans, that throw rug, those trainers – will make you a better person in some way.

But honestly? It won’t.

A thing can’t make you a better person.

Providing your basic needs of food, water, shelter and clothing are met, this thing will – at best – make you more comfortable, more fashionable or more confident. But you aren’t a kinder, happier, more compassionate person because you bought a throw rug, or trainers, or jeans.

(Please know that I am as guilty of this lie as the next person, so I don’t say any of this in judgement.)

But a life of intentional simplicity is teaching me to recognise this lie, and ignore its needling little voice.

And if I can do that, if I can ignore the little voice telling me I’ll be better if I just buy the thing, then that thing – the jeans, the rug, the trainers – are relegated to their rightfully unimportant place. It’s just stuff. That’s it. Nothing more. And it’s much easier to not want things when you understand how unimportant they are.

When the time comes where you do need to buy a new pair of jeans, or trainers, or a throw rug (if one ever needs a throw rug), it doesn’t become an exercise in personal identity. The stuff remains relegated to its rightful place – it’s just stuff.

Stuff is OK. And it’s OK to want things. It’s OK to buy things.

But stuff is not important. So don’t take your value from it. Don’t measure yourself by it.

You are important. Your friends are important. Your children, your partner, your family – they are important.

Your words, your deeds, your worldview – these are important.

Your jeans? Your trainers? Your throw rug? No.



12 Responses to Stories and lies.

  1. I think the “sales” are the worst for people getting caught in the trap of saving money. The one line I play over in my head when I’m looking at purchasing something (other than food of course) that’s on sale is “if this was full price would I be buying it”. That usually answers my question of do I need to buy it because it’s cheap or half it’s normal price or do I buy it because it’s something I will wear/love/use. We get caught up in the “sale price” and of course you have to spend the money to save the money (ie two shirts for the price of one, you still have to buy one shirt). keep the money and you save the money, not spend money to save the money. There are times when this is very sensible to do of course but we can all get caught up in the trap of clever marketing by the retailers. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  2. So true… CatMan just conned me into watching part of the new Apple iPhone 6 release presentation – even though neither one of us has a smart phone of any kind. I couldn’t help but laugh at all the oohing and aahing over the “new features” like rounded glass edges and stainless steel back. Seriously? In the broad scheme of things does anyone really care?

  3. Human nature is so… human, isn’t it? I fight the wanties on one front only to crumble on another. Thanks for another timely reminder that I am not defined by my stuff. I should tatoo that on my hands so I see it when I’m shopping!

  4. So spot on! I find I need to know my triggers. Some stores make my “little voice” scream at me (think red bullseye). Watching TV triggers my little voice, and so does consuming too much social media. Sometimes I have to stop, notice the thoughts, take a breath and think…”What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t buy…?”

  5. Story-lies. I identify with this SO much. I’m glad other people notice it, too! I go in cycles of telling myself story-lies, and it’s usually before a trip coming up: my brain puts together this fantasy of how I want to present myself and who I want to “be”, and convinces me that I need some extra things to pull it off – a new skirt, a new bag, new shoes, whatever. Like I need a costume. So I spend a bunch of time hunting for a good deal, buy the stuff, go on the trip, and instantly forget about my new purchases or regret buying them. Because ohmygosh, they didn’t actually make me someone new! Imagine that.