Decisions are hard. All of them.
Should I buy milk?
Should I go to the bathroom right now, or wait for the break? (Because I kinda-really have to go. But what if I miss something important and miss writing it in the minutes? I’ll get fired and have to think about going back to school or changing careers while drinking or not drinking milk…)
I have a special place in my heart for decisions that have to do with me spending any amount of money – a corner shared by activities like “asking for help from a sales clerk” and “actually going inside a bank instead of using an ATM.” Recently, I made a fairly large purchase and had the opportunity to examine the process I go through when deciding to spend money.
I started by thinking about how the non-anxious person does their shopping. To be clear, I’m not talking about angst-filled decisions here. This is a cycle for purchases within one’s means that are clearly going to fill a need or a want. Everything from tooth-paste to lap-tops. I thought it might look something like this:
There is some amount of debate for anyone, but the process rolls along and comes to the logical conclusion of “buying the thing.”
The purchasing cycle gets complicated for me, due to the introduction of the perfect panic decision loop:
You’ll note that steps 3 and 4 are ignored completely. That’s because I’m stuck in the tumble dryer that is Step 2. I tend to be convinced that every decision will determine whether I am a mature adult with money in the bank or just some penniless fool who is a slave to short term consumer desires.
But there are times where the clouds seem to part, and some miracle allows me to take a deep breath and Decide to Buy the Thing. In those cases, I have to act quickly or risk getting pulled back into the loop.
A purchase is made!
But it’s the thought of this next scenario that usually keeps me spinning in Stage 2.
NO! NO RETURNING THE THING! SOCIAL ANXIETY MAKES NO TALK TO CUSTOMER SERVICES! You know what? I love the thing. It doesn’t work. But I love it. I don’t need to return it. This has taught me a life lesson, so it’s totally worth the $300 I spent on a Chromebook that I can’t hook up to my printer. *BARF*
So, the next time you’re in the grocery store and see someone picking a tub of margarine out of the cooler, putting it in their cart, walking a few steps, stopping, backing up, putting the margarine back in the cooler, walking a few steps, stopping, looking back at the margarine… it might be me.