It’s no fun being a shopaholic!
The movie was funny and the books have sold in their millions – most women are familiar with the character in Shopaholic and enjoy the adventures she goes on. Most women have also experienced ‘ The High Of The Buy!’ – that feeling of euphoria that overcomes us when we buy that new item – it could be shoes, clothes , gadgets, makeup .. for me it’s jackets ( surely everyone has 52 different jackets in their wardrobe right ? )
But what happens when the feeling goes out of control – the need to keep buying and the need to get that hit of happiness strikes again and again? For some the habit can be destructive on their lives, giving them massive debts and anxiety and stress.
What turns an innocent enjoyable experience into a nightmare out of which it is so difficult to escape?
Well there are many reasons and it makes it easier to work through when we understand that this type of behaviour is clinically linked to other compulsive behaviours – or disorders ( OCD) as we commonly refer to them. We often think about the people who clean to an extreme and of course those which hoard what we feel are totally random objects.
All of these behaviours in this spectrum are driven by a need from the person – most often linked to self- esteem and worries about consequences should they not give into the compulsion.
With our shopping compulsive there can be that belief that by having that new item it will not only create a new look but will fundamentally shift their lives – they will be a new person , a better person – they will be different – improved and people around them will like them more and they will look into the mirror and like themselves. The initial rush of feel good hormones when the purchase is made buys into that view. It is indeed an addiction psychologically and coupled with the desire for the object and the overriding belief that there is a ‘ need’ not a want, the compulsion kicks in .
Sadly once the item is bought the effects quickly wear off. In some cases it will be when the item is worn once and the realisation that life is still the same and You are still the same starts to dawn. For others the item may never be used – it may end up in the shopping graveyard – tucked away in the back of the wardrobe ,still in the bag with the tags on – but again it’s the same reason. All the problems and anxieties you had before the purchase are still there and with the high of the buy gone from your system you now experience a true low. There may be a feeling of shame itself that you let yourself fall prey to the habit, there may be feelings of panic that you spent more money that you could not afford, increasing your debt and for some there may be the lies which follow as they cover their tracks leading to an increase in anxiety and stress. All of this reduces the person’s self esteem and the roller coaster starts to crank up again leading up to the thrill at the top of the hill when the next purchase will be made because surely that will cure everything – followed once again by the rapid crash down the other side.
The good news is that with the right support the roller coaster ride can be halted. Cognitive Therapy enables people to start seeing that they can control their feelings and have choice. They can start to see the good things about themselves which are already there – which do not need boosting with external and material items.
Being able to examine evidence of the lack of impact the items have on their feel good factor long term, coupled with seeing that they can bring positive thoughts into their lives just from within themselves, empowers the feeling of choice. .. and with choice there is control. Additionally having a safe environment in which to explore what started the roller coaster can give clarity and understanding – realising that there is an explanation can be empowering in itself.
We all love some external gratification – I will never be a minimalist and my next blog will follow on from this to talk about how hoarding takes over .. but if this blog brought up feelings in you that were familiar perhaps just stop and think .. in this material 1st world we are in no one ‘ needs’ that new item.. and no item will solve your problems. Enjoy what you own and what you buy but see it for what it is – it’s just a dress, it’s just a lip stick , it’s just a pair of shoes.. what you have inside of you ? … now that is life transforming !
Dream More .. See More … Be and Feel Fabulous Being You !