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Compulsive Shopping

Like most process addictions, compulsive spending and shopping serves an unconscious purpose. The purpose is typically specific to each individual and while out of one’s awareness, a yearning seeks to be filled. This is where the process of shopping and spending come into play. Assessing the behaviors, intentions, and emotions underlying compulsive spending and shopping can assist a person in seeking help for a problem that may be masked by our societal acceptance of “retail therapy.” The following questions can provide a framework of understanding and insight regarding compulsive shopping and spending.

Are You a Compulsive Shopper? Read through the following questions to find out:

Are You a Compulsive Shopper?


Do you buy things you want even if you know at that moment you do not have the money to pay for it?
Do you buy things you want even if you know at that moment you do not have the money to pay for it?

Many of us could answer “yes” to this question, especially given the economic nature of our world today and our easy access to credit. This question, however, speaks to a deeper conflict between “need” and “want.” Distinguishing between the two is often difficult and confusing to people who struggle with satisfying themselves either too often or not often enough. Finding a balance between deprivation and over indulgence is key to being able to manage the impulsive feelings when presented with an object that is wanted.

Is it difficult for you to save money?
Is it difficult for you to save money?

Saving money is a practical concern yet it involves psychological maturity and emotional regulation. For some, saving may not be of value, however, for those who wish to save and cannot, the governing factor may be related to limited emotional regulation skills and/or to rationalizations. Emotional regulation skills help to contain emotional yearnings while at the same time contain urges to spend impulsively and compulsively. Rationalizations are the well founded and crafted excuses we tell ourselves in order to justify giving into the urge to spend.

When you have some “extra” cash that you could save, instead, do you think of other things you would like to buy?
When you have some “extra” cash that you could save, instead, do you think of other things you would like to buy?

Sometimes, before the “extra” cash is even available, people who compulsively spend are prematurely fantasizing about what they will buy next, as if the next purchase will be the one that will make a difference, emotionally. On a conscious level, however, the motive of emotional soothing is not apparent, it is perhaps what the object will represent both to themselves and the outside world that makes the object so coveted

Do you cheer yourself up or give yourself a reward by going shopping?
Do you cheer yourself up or give yourself a reward by going shopping?

Retail Therapy is viewed as an acceptable means to help oneself through a trying time, albeit, in a joking sense. However, people do find shopping as a soothing experience and it can, like most process addictions, move them from discomfort to serene without immediate consequence. Like most addictions, there is a high price to pay in long the run and tolerance develops. Interrupting the addictive process of compulsive spending involves incorporating coping skills that can be sustained over time.

Are you inclined to keep buying more of your favorite things- clothes, makeup, cd’s, books, computer software, electronic gadgets – even though you do not have a specific need for them?
Are you inclined to keep buying more of your favorite things- clothes, makeup, cd’s, books, computer software, electronic gadgets – even though you do not have a specific need for them?

Compulsive shopping and spending is a process addiction in that that the process of shopping and spending is what provides emotional relief. The things that a person buys, like the examples above, need not cost a lot of money, yet, they are without a specific practical need and may already be possessed, in hoards, for example. The financial consequences of compulsive spending is the symptom of the process addiction.

When and if you have to say “NO” to yourself, or control yourself from buying something you really want, do you feel intensely deprived, angry or upset?
When and if you have to say “NO” to yourself, or control yourself from buying something you really want, do you feel intensely deprived, angry or upset?

This questions speak to the feelings that are typically experienced when the addictive process is interrupted and emotional regulation skills typically managed by compulsive spending are taken away. The development of emotional regulation skills to manage the urges and feelings that seem too intolerable to bear will help the sustain the withdrawal from compulsive shopping and spending.

 

Read more about compulsive shopping addiction by Angela Wurtzel

One comment

  1. This is really a very useful article . Most of the the people suffer of this . One more interesting article on compulsive buying

    http://instanthomemart.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/avoid-compulsive-shopping-with-online-grocery-shops/

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