Are you taking me seriously?
I’ve said it before, but I’d like to reiterate that an addiction to shopping is similar in many ways to other well-known addictions. It’s not fun, or light-hearted or even to be smiled upon and indulged by others. It doesn’t come from nowhere; there’s always a reason.
This is not just buying the odd thing you don’t really need, or a big shopping splurge. Being a real shopaholic means that your life is totally consumed by it. Addicts devote huge amounts of time and energy to it. Some are bargain-hunters, and spend hours hunting for the cheapest version of a product. Others are serial buy-and-return types. Still others never actually buy very much at all, but spend so much time window shopping or browsing online that it dominates their life. Of course there are some who do spend in an out-of-control way, buying regardless of product price or bank balance. These people end up in crippling debt, all as a result of their “fashionable” addiction.
Shopaholics are not taken seriously, instead they’re derided or glamorised. Unlike alcoholism or an addiction to narcotics, there is no compassion for those “greedy”, “silly” or “materialistic” (usually) women who over-shop.
“Having more things means enjoying life less.”
– April Benson, PhD
There’s a vicious cycle to the addiction.
When I get upset or stressed out I buy myself a treat (or ten) to cheer myself up. Buying more “stuff” makes me feel like a failure, and rocks my financial stability. I get upset and stressed. I’ve lost control.
I feel rubbish when I lose control; in fact, I’m a control freak. I’m extremely uncomfortable when I’m not able to direct my life, like a play.
Getting dumped, being made redundant or losing a loved one; these are the kind of thing we can’t do anything about. I handle this kind of situation spectacularly badly. I try to find a reason, or some way that it was “my fault”. At least if it’s my fault, that means I can just go back and change whatever I was doing wrong, and then everything will be alright again.
Sometimes the company you work for can’t afford the staff salaries. Sometimes he’s “just not that into you”. Sometimes someone dies before you get a chance to tell them how much you love them. It’s not in your sphere of control; there’s nothing you can do.
When things like this happen, joy and self-esteem are sapped, and I snap. I shop. I think it will bring me joy, boost my self-esteem. Perhaps it will give me back control; over what I look like, what I own. The reverse is true. The cycle begins.
Life’s sometimes like a pressure cooker, and it’s tough trying not to explode.
Somehow, you have to release the tension. Whether that’s through exercise, yoga, meditation or whatever. Just please don’t make the mistake of thinking that a trip to the shops will help. It won’t.