Our magpie tendencies
Posted on 26th January 2022 at 07:32
Traditionally, January is the time of the dreaded New Year’s resolutions – and that’s all we’re going to say on that particular topic today, thank goodness (!) – as well as a spot of spring cleaning. Partly to deal with the aftermath of all the festivities. Partly to clear away some of the things we no longer need. And, in all honesty, may never have needed – let alone used (!) – in the first place… No wonder January is such a busy month for Charity shops and recycling centres everywhere.
And it’s all those things which have been snoozing away peacefully in our homes for the last few months – and, quite probably much longer – that we’d like to talk about today.
While we don’t like to admit it, we all have magpie tendencies. Attracted to anything shiny and new.
Sadly, all too often it’s compulsive. We saw something and bought it without stopping for a moment and asking ourselves whether we actually needed it. And, more importantly, would use it. Then, once we realise what we’ve done, we find ourselves unable to take it back for a refund. For a host of different reason. Or, perhaps, we’re just too embarrassed – again for many different reasons (!) – to do so.
Less often, it’s a much more deliberate and conscious purchase. We did a little homework – however detailed or superficial it may have been (!) – before we got out our purse or wallet but, for whatever reason, still ended up with the same result. For some reason it just didn’t live up to our expectations. Or we realised we never really needed it in the first place, however much we tried to convince ourselves that we did. Perhaps it was more about peer pressure than anything else…
However, there’s another reason why some of our purchases remain pristine and unused. Or used a few times with disappointing results, before being put to one side. It’s one we tend to overlook, even when we’ve given some thought to our purchase.
Have you guessed what it is?
It’s the time and effort needed to get the most from our purchase. The time – however short or long it may be – to master using it effortlessly and without too much conscious thought. Just as important, the effort needed to learn – or update – our skills to do so. Then, finally, incorporating whatever it is into our lives. Perhaps slightly “tweaking” what we do or by making a more wholesale change, with the new purchase replacing an older one. In both cases, it may necessitate changing our habits and routines, whether a lot or a little.
And, if you think this doesn’t apply to you, take a moment to have a look – whether in person or in your “mind’s eye” – at all the things snoozing away peacefully in your home and garage. The gizmos in your kitchen drawers. Sports equipment in the spare room or garage. Apps on your phone. Books, DVD’s, manuals, courses and the like on your shelves. Particularly those bought in the couple of years to help make the best use of all that extra time at home. Little wonder self help books are often referred to as “shelf help” books, reflecting where they spend most of their time (!).
Now, before you start to despair, STOP!!! Once again, much of this is down to the Little Monster in your head, aided by slick advertising, topped off with a little peer pressure. Convincing you that your purchase would magically improve your life / solve a particular “problem” / something else.
Then, when it fails to live up to expectations, the Little Monster really goes into overdrive. Telling you that, somehow, this makes you a failure – and, probably, stupid too. How it was bound to happen and much more besides. Not only making you feel bad, but undermining your efforts, before you’ve even started. And, from there, it turns into a very vicious circle, with the script being set for future purchases too… It’s little wonder we can find making any sort of change so difficult, despite our best intentions.
So, what’s the answer?
Well, all that’s required is a little forethought. Perhaps using getting our purse or wallet out as a reminder to STOP for a moment. Using this Pattern Interrupt to ask ourselves whether we actually need whatever it is. Are we prepared to put in the necessary time AND effort to use it and become proficient with it? To actually enjoy the benefits of investing our hard earned cash in it. And, if we’re not sure, being comfortable to sit on the fence for the time being before making a decision either way. It really is that simple, we just have to be conscious enough of what we’re doing BEFORE we get out purse or wallet out.
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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