It’s okay to leave empty-handed

empty handed

Spring time means one of my favorite Saturday morning activities is back in full swing — the farmer’s market! I love the energy there: all the people, all the different stands to look at; I love the idea of shopping local and buying fresh-picked produce and homemade treats. Plus I think donning a pair of yoga pants and a tank top and carrying my reusable produce bag just fits this image of a fit, healthy woman who has her life together, and that’s a facade I like to try and maintain. 😉

I often meet two good friends there at 9am to browse together. We typically each have things in mind we are hoping to find: greens for a salad tonight, rhubarb for a pie, local raw honey, or my personal favorite: sauerkraut! Last time I also got a gluten-free brownie, and other times I am tempted by the croissants. Boy oh boy.

Now that everyone is hungry, let me tell you what happened two weeks ago. I went there looking for sauerkraut, but the guy wasn’t there that week. I looked for local raw honey, but it was too expensive. I had already done my other shopping at the grocery store a few days earlier, so I didn’t need anything else.

So I did something that used to be difficult for me: I left empty-handed.

And that is okay.

I still had fun saying hi to people I know, and it was still fun to browse. It was still fun to get up semi-early on a Saturday and get dressed and leave the house. I still felt productive and put-together.

The only thing that was different about that week was that the farmer’s market didn’t have anything I needed. But I still gained so much from being there!

We often think we have to come away from a store or market having bought something — anything — or else it somehow wasn’t productive or wasn’t worth our time. But the trip itself isn’t a waste if you get to say hi to a friend, or if you’re like me and just enjoy being there to browse and feel the warm-weather vibes. When we frame shopping like this, we see that the only goal isn’t just to buy something.

If you find yourself someplace where you’re tempted to buy something just so you’re not walking away empty-handed, remember these mantras:

  • It will only become unproductive if I buy something I don’t need. (tweet that)
  • It will only become a waste of my time if I buy something just because I’m in a store. (tweet that)
  • I choose to save my money for something I actually want. (tweet that)

Try and see shopping as separate from buying. Shopping is the experience, the outing. Buying is a choice you can make once you’re there, based on a couple factors (Do I need this? Do I have enough money for this right now?)

Once we reframe how we look at shopping, we can begin to break the habit of compulsive buying. It might feel uncomfortable at first to leave some place empty-handed. But I feel so much power and self-control when I do now! And I love the feeling of still having that cash in my pocket that I can now put towards something I actually need.




Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

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