This is part 2 of my article on dealing with a shopping addiction. My aim here is to give you strategies which you can immediately begin to implement.
I’ll also give you an overview of available professional shopping addiction treatments.
Let's start right away to help you beat that compulsive buying.
The first step in overcoming any kind of addiction is to truly acknowledge the problem - no more denial! Know that by being here, you’ve already made a great start, and I really applaud you for that.
Next comes a trickier bit: being really honest with yourself about the scope of your problem. That includes the impact it’s having on your life and the lives of the people close to you.
It’ll probably take some courage to really face up to how your behaviour has affected your loved ones. It's totally understandable if you feel embarrassed about what's happening.
Do you recognise yourself in that?
If so, I want you to know that your shopping addiction has likely, at least partly, come about in an attempt to escape unhappiness or difficulties somewhere else in your life.
There is no shame in that.
Once you’ve acknowledged what you’re truly dealing with, you can start taking steps to put things right.
It's time to restore some balance to yourself and your life.
Now we need to find out where your life is most out of balance. I'm going to help you to easily and quickly get some useful insights.
Take a few minutes to download and fill in the Emotional Needs Worksheet (if you haven't done that yet when you read Part 1). It will help you to discover which of your emotional needs aren't being met. That’ll put you in a much better position to figure out where you need to concentrate your energies.
Whatever it is, it’s more than likely that I'll have written an article to help you make a start with your healing journey.
Also, know that you were born with all the resources you need to problem solve. Not least, your unimaginably bright brain - regardless of what they might have told you about your abilities (positive or negative) at school. (To learn more about your inborn needs and resources, see my article on the human givens.)
Difficult to imagine right now, isn't it?
But, I promise you, you're far more capable than you think you are!
Whatever the audit uncovers for you, I hope it’ll give you a boost to know that you can take control of yourself and your life.
Doing this audit will also give you the confidence to discuss with a professional what you'd like to work on, should you choose to go for therapy.
Take charge and make your own treatment plan. You won't believe what a relief it will be to finally have some structure in your life.
Plan everything! Write a daily plan for the morning, afternoon and evening. Include small steps and chores you've neglected.
Start your journey by answering the following questions (write your answers down - here's a free app for journaling):
Being prepared to face up to and ride out your craving without giving in will make it much easier for you to keep yourself in check.
So, the following is really important!
Know that it's only a part of your brain that drives that craving. That part acts like a spoilt child constantly pulling at your trouser legs. Meanwhile, all the rest of your brain is available to deal with that… although, of course, it’s the child part that takes up most of your attention!
So, the child part needs to be distracted!
Start by telling yourself that you’ll do something else just for 5 minutes. Set a timer if you need to, and force yourself to concentrate on that something else for the entire 5 minutes.
Make sure it’s something you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like a punishment. Chances are, by the time the 5 minutes are up, the craving will have reduced enough for you to keep it at bay.
Or, if the craving feels really unbeatable, call a trusted friend or your partner (be sure you've agreed together that it's okay to do that). Ask them about their day or what they’ve been up to. Shift the focus away from yourself and the craving, and buy yourself the time you need to remain in control of your actions.
You get my drift now, I hope! So, start right away and make your own list. You'll feel so much better for having something at the ready to divert your attention.
Actively monitor your feelings and thoughts, and what you feel in your body, by writing them down - in particular:
Monitor your reactions to the following trigger words advertisers and marketers use to trigger your buying:
And here are some words that advertisers use - on TV, online, in stores, in emails, etc - to remind you of your misery and motivate you to buy:
And these are the words they use to increase hope:
Be wary of the psychological tricks they’re using to try and tempt you into buying. Don’t fall for the spin, and don’t let them convince you that you simply must have whatever it is they’re selling.
By monitoring your thoughts and feelings when you’re exposed to clever advertising tricks, you can start to keep tighter control of your behaviour.
Notice how you respond, and don’t let yourself react immediately. Remind yourself of the tips above to help you overcome your cravings. When you’re in a calmer state of mind - without temptation at your fingertips - think rationally about whether or not buying is a good choice.
Any professional will take a two-pronged addiction treatment approach:
How and when they tackle these elements depends entirely on how you're feeling and their expertise (find out how to choose a therapist).
You’ll definitely want to ensure that they are well-trained and highly experienced in the treatment of addiction. So, don’t be afraid to ask! If you're at all unsure, seek someone else or ask to be connected with another therapist or doctor.
In any case, here are 7 treatments to consider:
Life as a shopaholic can be pretty challenging.
But it really is possible to overcome a compulsive shopping habit. Be consistent and honest in your efforts. You'll see that you can make progress every day.
Keep your essential emotional needs at the front of your mind. You too can lead a happy, satisfying and fulfilling life. Let your essential needs be your guide. They'll show you where you need to make a particular effort to improve your wellbeing - emotionally and physically.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need, and don’t give up if you stumble every now and then. I know you can do this!
I really hope this article is of help to you. :-)
I frequently update my articles based on feedback, therefore I really value your vote.
Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)
Clark, Brian ClarkBrian, et al. “50 Trigger Words and Phrases for Powerful Multimedia Content.” Copyblogger, 20 Apr. 2009, www.copyblogger.com/trigger-words/. Accessed 9 Sept. 2018.