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Confessions of a Biased Shopper


See if you shop the way I do…

The other day, I noticed when I’m shopping online and I’ve already made up my mind to buy something, I only read the 5-star comments. On the flip side, when the truth is that I DON’T really want to make a certain purchase, I read the 1-star reviews.

I didn’t really notice this until a few weeks ago when I was in my NYC home on a Saturday night, impulse-buying a pair of cowboy boots that deep in my heart I knew I was not REALLY going to wear. However, I found myself clicking on the five star reviews and it made me feel so much better about my purchase that I took out my credit card. 

And there’s the rat.

Sure, I wasn’t consciously choosing to read only the best reviews, it was an unconscious action that I used to convince myself that I, in fact, needed these 5-star cowboy boots. Suddenly, I could see my pattern laid out before me: I unconsciously collect evidence to support going headlong in whatever direction I already want to go anyway (gasp!). 

Think about it like gossip – it’s not very hard to find someone to validate your perspective and help build your case so you don’t have to be accountable, especially when you feed someone your “right” answer: “It’s terrible, right?”, “It’s wonderful, right?”, “I should do it, right?”, “I should avoid that, right?”.

Now, anyone shopping with a decent head on their shoulders would say you have to consider the full spectrum of reviews (price, quality, timeliness, etc.) – logic says simply weigh all of the critical factors and make your decision. So, why am I setting aside wise, critical buying behavior (such as reading the full gamut of reviews, not ONLY the fives but the ones too) so I can just spend my money? Well, clearly there’s a difference between A) “spendertaining” myself for a feeling of quasi-accomplishment versus B) honestly shopping.

When I’m procrasti-shopping, like any of a myriad other little moves I make in life, there’s an unconscious bias I’m operating – a theory I’m out to prove. And then I’m hell-bent on the notion “If I buy this then I’ll be happy,” or “If I get this then I’m gonna’ feel really accomplished.” In Handel lingo, I’ve got the voice of my inner Brat in my head that just wants what it wants NOW and is happy to field a thumbs-up from an anonymous stranger to validate its momentum. 

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In the case of the cowboy boots, it came from a random dude in San Antonio, Texas. 

When the boots finally arrived, they fit well, but I assure you I haven’t worn them around Manhattan a single moment. And guess what…the feeling of accomplishment from that click was extremely short-lived. 

Fortunately, as an HG coach, I know there’s a much better high than that little shopper’s rush. It’s the feeling that comes from living according to your values and feeling truly proud of yourself; the high of Personal Integrity®. How did I design THAT for myself? By lassoing my bratty shopper compulsions with a combination of two promises, the first of which was a pre-existing foundation and the second of which redesigned my newly discovered biased thinking.

  1. The foundation promise that has kept my bratty shopper out of trouble for over a decade is this: my wife and I agreed that any purchase over $300 requires a check-in with the other. If I were to break that promise (which I don’t, religiously) I self-imposed the consequence that I would lose my purchasing freedom for a calendar month – the next 30 days! That promise and consequence has kept me financially sound for YEARS. And, although we did not increase the amount with inflation, I’ve been very comfortable with the tightening leash, and proud of my financial discipline.
  2. To wrangle my newly discovered bias, I supplanted the old theory “If I buy this then I’ll be happy” with the new one, “If I make sound judgments I’ll be happy.” To do this I simply installed a new STEP in my purchase process: After looking at the balance of reviews and conducting a sound shopping process, I simply have to ask myself “Would Laurie (my wife) say this is a good idea?” Since then I have deleted quite a few items from digital shopping carts, my level of pride increasing with each addition-by-subtraction.

The reason I can catch and redirect my thinking in this way is thanks to years of practice in The Handel Method®. It’s taken a lot of work with my coaches to be able to step back and see a manipulation I’m up to like they can, but that’s an ongoing benefit of drawing upon others. I never want to live without a coach, feedback, a partner in life, and a team around me to help steer and catalyze my growth. And my best feelings of pride obviously aren’t fueled by my bratty compulsions but by living (and shopping) with Personal Integrity.

Take a moment to ask yourself, what biased bratty theories are you running? And what new promises would rewrite them?

Love,

Will Craig