Self care and self kindness are critical when you are journeying back from any unhealthy or addictive behaviour, like a compulsion to overshop. Many of us who have overshopped live with a constant hum of self-dislike or even self loathing – were we to be utterly honest with ourselves. It’s one of the reasons that keps us shopping.
I was ignorant of the need for self care for many years. I was too busy — busy achieving, busy shopping, busy being busy. And I have struggled a great deal with instituting self care into my daily life – my feelings about it oscillated between it seeming a little too self indulgent and a little too easy as a ‘fix’ for the issues I was dealing with, like taking a Vitamin C pill when faced with a cancer diagnosis.
I have been so mean to myself that I finally concluded that if I were a friend of mine, I’d conclude that I was actually an enemy. I wouldn’t let anybody else treat me as badly as I’ve treated myself! The mean things I say to myself, the constant barrage of negative self talk, an unspoken yet palpable message that any achievement is never good enough, that who I am is lacking in some important way.
Who wants a friend like that?
Why was I putting up with it?
And how could I remove this insidious influence from my life, or at least reduce its impact?
So in a “well it can’t make it any worse” attempt to start to turn the tide on all this self-loathing, I decided that starting a daily practice of self care couldn’t hurt. And who knows? Maybe things would improve on some level.
In To Buy Or Not to Buy by Dr April Lane Benson, a pioneer and thought leader in the field of compulsive overshopping, Dr Benson talks about how an “overshoppers urges are responses to cues, to triggers that ignite her impulses and propel her into overshopping…. Behind these triggers lie real needs” and she encourages us to “improve your capacity both to connect with others … and build a better life” through engaging in self kindness and self care.
There are almost endless ways to be more self caring. In Dr Bensons excellent book, she details eight (8) ways to engage in acts of self kindness (pp114 – 119).
Compulsive behaviour, such as overshopping, often indicates a lack of connection — to self, to others in meaningful relationships, to our surroundings, to an inner sense of calm and connection to our world. We shop, and shop, and shop, as a way of masking that lack of connection. It feels too painful to confront head on, or fully feel.
I’ve learned that re-connecting is essential to feeling the fullness in my life. The fullness is already there – it’s my connection to it that is temporarily lost. And engaging in regular self care is one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways of reconnecting.
The first step is to determine what’s missing from your life and therefore what kind of self care you need
Is your life lacking stimulation and excitement? If so, then activities that inspire you to explore and introduce more variety and adventure into your life are what you need.
Is your life so full now you are overwhelmed or simply can’t fit another high energy activity into it? If so, then activities that bring, rest, reflection and rejuvenation into your life are what you need.
Is your life feeling empty and flat? If so, then activities that bring you greater connection to others, your senses and the natural world are what you need.
My daily habits now include 10 – 20 minutes of self care. Simple habits that ground me, connect me, and tune me into the fullness of my life.
For more on self care, read my three-part article, starting here.