Mind Over Matter: How You Can Beat Shopping Addiction
Article from Gemma Fallon
Living beyond ones means is surprisingly common. With the advent of home shopping catalogs, ‘buy now, pay later’ offers, store cards and credit cards, it can be hard to resist. Time magazine suggested that due to today’s culture of borrowing, each American citizen has accumulated around $10,000 of debt.
There is no harm in spending if you can afford it and everyone likes to splash out on material things occasionally. The problem occurs when the shopping trips get too frequent and too much capital is being spent on unneeded items while bills aren’t paid and the bank account is in the red. According to a Stanford University study, 17 million people in America have exactly this problem!
If you think your spending is getting out of control, you feel you ‘have’ to shop whenever you go out, you keep repeat buying things you don’t need, you’re hiding your purchases or your credit card bills from your partner or your shopping habits are starting to cause arguments between you, you could be affected by shopping addiction.
Why Conventional Treatments Don’t Always Work
The standard medical response to over spending and shopping addiction is drug therapy – either anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication. This is because most of those affected by a compulsion to over spend have low self-esteem, are anxious or have depression. The trouble with this approach is that it only moderates or masks the symptoms of emotional illness and doesn’t do anything to fix the reason why the person is stressed in the first place. It is also well known that people who compulsively buy are more likely to have other addictions including prescription medication addiction. Over spending tends to run in families who commonly deal with other disorders. Using drug therapy to treat a ‘shopaholic’ may simply swap one ‘fix’ for another.
Some counseling approaches focus on not doing the undesirable behavior. This can help but can also have the same effect as going on a diet. If a person gives up cake, they may crave it even more.
Looking at What’s Really Going On
The secret to changing behavior in the long term is to address why you want to shop. Are you shopping because you’re lonely or bored and unfulfilled? Getting out there and hitting the town means that you are mixing with other people. Buying new things like clothes and accessories can also help you to feel better about yourself and have more confidence. Having distant parents during childhood, going through divorce and dealing with single parenthood are some of the common reasons for low self regard.
The act of purchasing items stimulates the body to produce endorphins – pain killing ‘feel good’ hormones – and dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with rewards. This combination can be addictive, particularly in people who are stressed as it is a welcome relief. However, this physiological response is always short lived, leading the person to repeat the behavior to achieve the same feeling.
Identifying whether you are lonely, insecure or depressed and working to heal from those emotional issues so you no longer feel the need to over spend offers better prospects for long term healing. For instance, you could change your job, start a new evening class or join a gym. These offer relief from boredom and open up the opportunity for meeting new friends without spending large amounts of cash.
Heal Yourself with the Emotional Freedom Technique
You can beat your addiction and begin a new and positive phase of your life with the emotional freedom technique (EFT). EFT is a form of acupressure and energy psychology that has the same basis as acupuncture but without the needles. By tapping at various meridian points on the body, while thinking or voicing a positive thought, you can redirect negative energy, improve your outlook and even begin to heal from physical ailments. Blocked energy is forced to move and flow more freely. This, coupled with positive affirmations can alter your mood for the better and imbue you with confidence that doesn’t fade.
Psychological research into the clinical value of EFT has found that it can be helpful in restoring positive feelings in strained relationships, lessen the likelihood of addictive patterns of behavior and assist in the tackling of existing addictions.
EFT is self-administered and can be performed whenever you feel the urge to get out your credit card.
Positive visualization, combined with EFT, can also help correct unwanted behaviors so it can be used to stop compulsive shopping. Imagining how you would like to respond to the temptation to shop can re-train your brain to react in a different way so you can control your impulses instead of them controlling you.
A effective method of counseling that you can use with EFT is life coaching. Instead of traditional ‘talk’therapies that focus on problems and what you have done ‘wrong’, life coaching focuses on how you would like to live your life and provides tasks that you can do to improve your life so that you can become proactive in your own self-improvement.
Holistic Harmony run seminars and provide books about EFT, energy psychology, life coaching and reclaiming your life. For more information and help with treating addictions, we would be happy to hear from you.