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How to Escape Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction is an impulse control disorder characterized by uncontrollable and excessive shopping. Shopping addiction affects people of all ages, genders, and incomes, and is often triggered by specific emotions. People with a shopping addiction may not understand their behavior and how it affects their lives, leading to potential severe financial issues and vastly diminished self-esteem.

However, the great news is that shopping addiction is a treatable condition. Here are some tips for how to escape a shopping addiction so you can get back to living a life free of excessive shopping.

1. Be Honest About Your Addiction

The first step to escaping your shopping addiction is to recognize that you have a problem. Uncontrolled buying is often driven by compulsive behavior, so confessing to yourself and to other people that you are struggling with shopping addiction can be a great first step on the road to recovery.

2. Get Professional Help

While admitting that you have an addiction is an important part of recovery, it may not be enough if your shopping addiction is significantly affecting your life. There are courses, therapists, and other professionals who are experienced with helping people with shopping addiction. They can provide support, education, and help structure a plan to increase self-control when it comes to shopping.

3. Find Fun and Healthy Alternatives

Many people turn to shopping to distract themselves from difficult thoughts and feelings and to seek an emotional high. Replacing shopping with other, healthier activities can be an important and effective tool for combating a shopping addiction. Exercise such as running or bike rides can boost serotonin and other feel-good chemicals in the brain and has been shown to be an effective way of dealing with difficult emotions. Other activities such as reading, cooking, watch movies, listening to music, or taking classes can also help to replace the pleasure from shopping.

4. Track Your Spending

Knowing what you spend your money on can be incredibly helpful for managing an urge to shop. Whether you use a budgeting app or an old-fashioned spreadsheet, tracking your spending can give you an objective view of how much money you are spending on unnecessary purchases. By looking at tangible data, it may become clear to you that your money can be used to pay bills rather than buying trinkets.

5. Etablished Financial Goals

Having financial goals can be an effective way of staying away from retail therapy. Figure out a long-term financial goal (such as saving for a retirement or down payment on a house) and use that to make decisions about your spending. If a purchase pushes you further away from achieving your goal, it may be a good time to pause and ask yourself whether the purchase is a good idea.

6. Create Consequences

If you’re unable to resist the urge to shop, create consequences for yourself for your actions. For example, you could agree that for every unnecessary purchase you make, you will donate some money to a charity of your choice. If you’re still unable to resist the urge, ask a trusted friend to help by withholding your credit cards until you can prove to them that you are in control of your shopping habits.

7. Practice Self-Control

Finally, practice self-control in all aspects of life. Self-control isn’t easy, and it takes practice to master. You can start by challenging yourself to avoid purchases that are unnecessary or indulgent, and then reward yourself if you reach the goal of staying within your budget.

Shopping addiction can be crippling, but with the right tools and the right attitude, you can break free from it. From tracking your spending and creating financial goals to seeking professional help and practicing self-control, there are many ways you can take control and begin to escape your shopping addiction.

Bring Your Shopping Addiction Under Control

heal shopping addictionAnyone who has a shopping addiction can attest to the fact that they want to bring it under control. Shopping addictions wreck people’s finances and personal lives. They are a form of dysfunction that cannot sustain a person for long without their lives caving in around them. The sad part is, when shopping is done responsibly, within a person’s means and personal space, it can be a valid hobby. A passion and an eye for assembling outfits is a gift, as is furnishing a home or knowing one’s way around kitchen gadgets. The dysfunctional version of this is someone who cannot control their spending in one or all of these areas. Shopping addicts want to be functional people, and the good news is they can be, but it does require work and focus. See more specific advice below:

  • Beat your denial by admitting that you are a shopping addict. If you have tried to cope with your addiction by denying it, here is no time like the present to come to terms with it if you want to recover. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are a shopping addict. It is something you already know deep down and will not come as a complete shock to you. Then tell your support system that you are a shopping addict and that you need their help in order to get better.
  • Begin addiction treatment and take it seriously. This can mean something as minimal as self help for moderate to mild shopping addicts, or something as immersive as counseling or rehab for severe shopping addicts. It is imperative that this is taken seriously if you want to recover. Do not pay attention to the opinion that shopping is not a “real” addiction. If it is negatively impacting your life, it is a real addiction. People in wealthy demographics statistically struggle with shopping addiction more, and treatment options are available in shopping addiction counseling in Beverly Hills, Miami and New York.
  • Manage your triggers and your urges to relapse. All addicts must face down triggers and the desire to relapse. The same life stress and opportunities to shop that you have always encountered are not going anywhere. You must become strong enough to resist them by avoiding them and having healthy coping mechanisms in place for when you cannot avoid them.

Why Your Shopping Craving is Never Satisfied

unsatisfied shopping addictionIt is an addict’s nature to become lost in thinking they need to pursue their addiction in order to satisfy it. People burn through reserves of time, money and energy immersing themselves in their addiction. They gratify themselves with the most extreme expressions of their addiction but at the end of the day, they are left unsatisfied and wanting more. When you apply this to an out of control shopping addiction, it is easy to connect this type of thinking to the classic shopping addict, with clothes and shoes spilling out of their closets, kitchen gadgets tumbling out of their cabinets, accessories cluttering their drawers and shelves. They seemingly never stop accumulating stuff, yet they never find that permanent feeling of satisfaction they are looking for.

The reason for this is simple. Their desire to buy things is a mislead one. They think that shopping is at the heart of their craving when actually, they are seeking a much deeper type of fulfillment. A shopping addict, or any other kind of addict for that matter, is correct in sensing that they must seek something they are missing. They are just incorrect about what they are missing. Their living space would certainly indicate that they are not missing stuff one can find in a store. What they are missing is wholeness as a person. They are missing something in the way of purpose, meaning and identity.

The origins of this problem are deep and cloudy and hard to discover, which is why a person should not feel alone in their attempts to discover them. Professional counselors and addiction specialists do this kind of thing for a living, and they are very experienced and intelligent in navigating through it. A person can cut to the chase of their shopping addiction and discover the underlying causes of it by tasking advantage of the services a mental health professional provides. If you or someone you care about is a shopping addict, do not remain lost in what to do about it. Seek the services of a counselor today to regain a functional amount of mental health!

The Reality of Shopping Addiction

shopping addiction realityA shopping addiction is not necessarily what it seems. To an observer, it simply seems like compulsive, frivolous behavior; a person extending their resources beyond their means. These things are part of a shopping addiction, but the underlying cause of a shopping addiction is a feeling of emptiness. This feeling of emptiness may have come from a number of adverse stimuli, but it is always something that has worked its way into a person’s subconsciousness and has found a place to fester there. A person acting out in a shopping addiction does not love buying things as much as they think they do. What they like is the temporary feeling of filling the hole inside them.

Because of the adverse experience or experiences the shopping addict went through, they were thrown off course for a chance at good mental health. Negative events in a person’s life, particularly in their early developmental years, need to be dealt with right away by a responsible party, usually the person’s parents. The young person who went through the adverse experience needs help processing it by a parent or a counselor so that they do not develop unhealthy thought or behavior patterns. Sadly, the need for this is often overlooked and the young person veers off from good mental health. This type of thing can happen repeatedly to a person, twisting and bending their mental health ever further. So what is a mere annoyance to someone observing a shopping addict, is actually a deeply ingrained, troubled behavior on the part of the addict.

A shopping addiction is simply a way that a person seeks to bring themselves comfort. Typically, they have long lost conscious touch with what initially caused their addiction and are simply acting on instinct. They have no intention of frustrating the people in their lives or of damaging their personal finances or of cluttering up their space. All they know is that shopping temporarily relieves the burning ache of emptiness so they return to it again and again and again.

I’ll Budget Tomorrow

budget procrastinationOne particularly dangerous trap that compulsive shoppers fall into is one that is seen throughout all addictions, be it food addictions, sex addictions, alcohol addictions or drug addictions. This trap is the lie that an addict tells themselves about why they are once again indulging in their harmful behavior. The excuse is this: tomorrow is a better day for me to quit my addiction. The problem with this logic is that it inevitably becomes a pattern. Promising yourself that you will change your ways in the days to come is a very comforting, complacent mental space to put yourself in. It gives you reassurance that you are not an addict, you are simply waiting for the right circumstances to arise that will enable you to change your lifestyle. While this may feel like a solution, it is actually a form of destruction.

Those who fall victim to this logic will inevitably fall into destructive behavior. A person who tells themselves they will change in the future is also subconsciously excusing their present behavior, as well as making it worse. It is inevitable to reason that, because you have plans to quit your harmful behavior tomorrow, it is justifiable to indulge in it today. This reasoning is the epitome of laziness and complacency, yet we are all familiar with it. It is important to guard yourself against this type of thinking, whether its a shopping addiction you struggle with or some other type of addiction. This thinking alone can prove extremely destructive to your life because it makes the damage done by your addiction very significant.

It does not matter when you take the steps to control your addiction; it will always come with some discomfort and a great deal of resistance from your longing for instant gratification. It will always be work and it will always be challenging. However, it will also get easier with time until, eventually, you will approach your addiction with an entirely different attitude, typically one that is amazed at how controlled you were by your addiction. Once you accept this reality with maturity and grace, you can begin to work with it, and you can quit putting your recovery off until tomorrow.