I’ve met so many women — hundreds now — who have struggled or are struggling with an overshopping issue.
Through our year-long program I have also learned a lot about the daily struggles many women who overshop are facing when it comes to the deeper issues to do with money (almost always a tricky topic when it comes to overshopping), and the emotional or psychological issues around overshopping.
I was impressed by the candour that Debbie Roes, the Recovering Shopaholic, shared in a recent post about retail therapy. I salute Debbie’s honest recounting of her own shopping triggers and the daily issues she is living with.
I feel it’s not only unhelpful but dishonest to serve up pat solutions to often complex, multi-layered and long-standing issues of what triggers our shopping and what we do about it.
The best advice won’t work for everyone, and quite frankly part of the solution, if not the major part of it, is to try a variety of different things and work out what works for you, what is personally the best way of dealing with your own deeper shopping triggers.
My pathway to healing
My solution, my pathway to healing, can be summed up this way:
1. Acknowledging this is a process.
This is a road possibly without end. Certainly I am still on the path to healing, I still sometimes feel the pull of shopping, so that signals to me that this is an ongoing process of change.
Change is not something done once and ticked off the list as though you were grocery shopping. I may live with my overshopping issue for the remainder of my life. And if I do, that’s okay. Why?
Because I’ve found a way that works for me, to manage my life, my emotions and my shopping behaviour on a daily basis. And that way is this:
2. Using a handrail, a guide, a formula
The way I manage my shopping is a combination of Awareness + Daily Discipline. If I had a formula, that would be it.
Boy does that sound simple typed out like that. A + DD = path to healing. In practice, there’s a bit more to it.
The awareness part is recognising and acknowledging what I’m feeling, just tuning in and noticing how I’m feeling. No judging, no making myself wrong (easier typed out than done). There is a huge component of self-acceptance required to do this.
I pay attention to if there is a pull to go shopping in response to any emotions I’m feeling (which run the spectrum from mild agitation, frustration, boredom through to celebration and exuberance – it isn’t always the ‘dark end’ of the emotional spectrum that triggers a compulsion to shop, important to note).
This is where the six human needs comes in, and which are present for me right now.
Awareness precedes choice. I can make no better choice unless I shine the gentle light of awareness on what’s happening, what’s present, first.
But whilst awareness is the first important step, and is absolutely necessary, it is not sufficient. Awareness alone will not heal you.
You need to take action. To change your behaviour. To create new habits. And you do this the way every other single person on the planet ever changed a habit, ever got rid of a bad habit or entrenched a new healthier habit.
There’s no secret to it. It’s daily discipline.
The daily discipline part for me is doing something else when I do recognise and feel the pull to go shopping.
This where having structures in place that set me up to succeed come in. I couldn’t do this without those success structures.
This is where the “love to do (instead of shopping)” list comes in, an idea I learned from Neradine Tisaj another Aussie overshopper who healed herself and wrote a book about it. When I’m feeling the grip of wanting to shop, not having to think of something else to do, but merely scanning my list and picking something on it to do, even if just for 10 minutes, really helps. I liked this idea so much, I created 365 ideas to inspire your life… instead of shopping.
This is where tuning into and enjoying life’s simple pleasures comes in. Making a daily habit to enjoy at least one simple pleasure has made my life richer.
This is also where the third space comes in, an idea I applied from the work of Dr Adam Fraser. I open up my awareness of the gap between Here (feeling triggered) and There (shopping in response to that triggering emotion).
Through practice of this ‘formula’, I now have a new set of habits and success structures that are now fairly solidly entrenched – but I still practice them every day. I never take them for granted.
I now have a powerful choice in what I do in response to my emotions, rather than finding myself shopping and only later having the awareness to recognise I was triggered. Sure I might not always like it, but the choice is there, and it’s mine.