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Nine Ways to Overcome Compulsive Buying
Almost every woman is a potential shopaholic. Sometimes the urge to spend like crazy can’t be controlled. It gives one a momentary thrill and then diminishes just as quickly. Author April Benson calls it “an activity that promotes self-definition, even healing.”
Many women admit that wearing a new dress or a pair of shoes puts them in a better mood. By the time they return from their shopping, they have forgotten the disappointment or frustration that bothered them.
Neurological symptoms may occur in normal people from time to time. In a given population, it may be as high as 815 per 1000 people. However, when this behavior gets out of control, it leads to irrational compulsive buying. At the slightest provocation, shopping becomes an obsession.
About 60% of people who wander around shopping malls to buy things they don’t need, are shoplifters. “In extreme cases, it can become an addiction like drugs or alcohol,” says April Benson.
About 90% of compulsive shoppers spend money on women. Shoplifting is rare among the poor. Many women today feel unhappy and unfulfilled in their roles as wives and mothers. Lack of appreciation by family members, loss of personal freedom, inability to deal with domestic problems, fault-finding by the husband and unsympathetic in-laws can create so much stress that they can only be relieved by reckless spending. Besides, housewives can change their schedule to give enough time for shopping. They go out on buying sprees, travel long distances in search of discount sales, haggle and haggle and saddle themselves with unwanted luggage.
Buying sends the brain’s neurotransmitters into overdrive, releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream. It causes an emotional high. Hearts flutter when a good bargain is made. The shopaholic feels happy and forgets his problems for a while.
But the mood elevation is temporary. When he assesses the damage to his pocket back home, his self-esteem plummets and guilt rises. Wasteful spending eats into the family budget and leads to deprivation in other areas of need. Sometimes extreme guilt can drive a shoplifter to commit suicide.
Parental neglect in childhood leads to low self-esteem.
o Environment: Conflict between parents or parents and children can lead to insecurity.
o Character: A stable self-confident person will be able to face life’s challenges. But those who are too timid to fight back or too shy to show or express their hurt often resort to neurotic behavior.
The influence of relatives or friends with similar buying tendencies can encourage shopping.
It is an era of elegance, splendor and competition. There are many factors that encourage overspending for instant gratification.
o Aggressive advertising of consumer goods.
o Discount sales and tempting malls.
o Affluence and shallow values.
o Desire to keep up with the Joneses. The more materialistic a person is the more prone to stress and depression.
o Credit card makes shopping fun. Studies have shown that people spend 20-30% more than if they paid in cash.
o Online shopping and financial illiteracy. A credit card limit is not actually what one has in their account. It only shows the limit to which the card can be used and is therefore deceptive.
However, only 10% of shopaholics are obsessive compulsive shoppers. German psychiatrists Jasper and Schneider believed that such neuroses were caused by stress or depression. In the 1900s, Emil Kraepelin called it “aneomania.” In Latin, ‘onio’ means ‘price.’ Robert Galatzer-Levy states that this disorder is caused by “the simple pleasures of life slipping out of hand”.
Shopaholism is not a disease, nor is it a psychosis, because the person is never out of touch with reality. It is just a ‘malfunctioning response to internal conflict’. This is sometimes referred to as the “Madame Bovary syndrome”, which Madame Bovary lived a lavish lifestyle and spent compulsively to overcome her boredom as a housewife and boost her self-esteem. Unfortunately this led to bankruptcy and then suicide.
Ways to overcome shoplifting:
o Understand the real problem and find ways to deal with it. If this involves the behavior of the husband and family, bring them to their attention so that they can change their attitude. A wise husband will willingly cooperate, as it can reduce the burden on his pocket.
Understand your role as wife and homemaker. It is a God-given role with built-in core skills to fulfill that role. Be proud of it.
o Find enjoyable hobbies to relieve stress. Music, gardening, painting, writing, yoga are some of the activities that can take your mind off stress.
o Make friends who are lively and happy people. Gloomy companies should be avoided at all costs. Many organizations provide social outlets for women. They organize constructive activities among the sick, elderly, disabled, abandoned children or single mothers. Engaged in social work will make your own problems trivial.
o Take stock of the useless stuff you have piled up in your house and the extravagance you have spent. Make a conscious decision to stay away from the store. When you feel the urge, postpone it for twenty-four hours, by which time it will disappear completely.
o Draw a budget and stick to it.
o Avoid credit cards. Pay cash only.
o Stop and think before you buy something. Check the urge to buy for the wrong reasons. Is the thing necessary or not?
o Work on your positive qualities. Strive for harmonious interpersonal relationships at home and with friends.
Where there is a will to change and a determination to discipline oneself, shoplifting can be overcome. Some compulsive shoppers may benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, who can guide them in the right direction.
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