“Flashback Friday” on Compulsive Shopping

My last post, “Recovery is Not a Linear Process,” generated a lot of comments and emails, as I thought it might.  Clearly, readers have many thoughts on the topic of recovery and the ways in which it might progress and unfold.  That post was sparked by what I viewed as a harsh comment on my July accountability update, but I didn’t expect the follow-on entry to become as contentious as it did.   I am all for spirited discussion, but it went beyond that and that isn’t what I want for my blog.  I really want readers to feel that my comments section is a safe place for them to open up and receive support.

I have very rarely had to moderate comments on this blog and I’m extremely grateful for that.  I can probably count on my hands the number of comments I’ve had to delete, which is pretty good for a blog that’s been going for almost three years with many thousands of comments.  I’m not adverse to people questioning and challenging me and each other, but it’s important to me that it be done in a kind and respectful manner. Fortunately, that is almost always the case, which is a testament to the quality of people this blog attracts.

Compulsive shopping resources

Because the subject of recovery has generated so much discussion, I wanted to dedicate today’s post to offering some additional resources for those who are interested.   Below I open the archives and share some of my best posts related to compulsive shopping, as well as a selection of external links for you to explore.

From the Archives…

In honor of “Flashback Friday,” I want to direct you to ten of my best articles about compulsive shopping, including the reasons behind it and the psychology surrounding it.   I know that new readers start reading the blog all the time and many of you didn’t read these posts when they were first published.  For others, they will serve as a review.   I actually plan to re-read them all myself because even though I’m the one who wrote them, I sometimes need a reminder!   The posts are listed from the oldest to the most recent.

  • The Reasons We Shop Too Much(March 2013) – In one of my most read articles, I present a brief overview of ten common reasons for compulsive shopping.
  • Why Continue to Shop?(May 2013) – During my first stint of Project 333, I responded to a reader’s question about why I continued to buy clothing when I already had a full closet and many pieces I hadn’t yet made decisions about.
  • Feelings Before, During, and After Shopping(August 2013) – A look at the differences in the moods of ordinary buyers and compulsive shoppers throughout the shopping process.
  • Why Do You Overshop?(September 2013) – Based on the work of Dr. April Benson (whose book is mentioned below), I write about the 11 main reasons for overshopping and the ones that have impacted me most.
  • What Triggers You to Shop?(October 2013) – An overview of the five different types of shopping triggers, as well as my personal experiences in dealing with each.
  • What Are Your Shopping Aftershocks?(October 2013) – “Aftershocks” are what happen following an overshopping experience, and there are seven different types of aftershocks.   I present examples of all seven types and share some of my personal aftershocks in each category.
  • Wanting More and Less at the Same Time(November 2013) – A look at the dichotomy that often exists between wanting to shop and also desiring a smaller wardrobe, and how it’s hard to be happy with such opposing aims.
  • How a Shopping Hiatus Can Help(June 2014) – An informative and comprehensive guest post from Jill Chivers (learn about her programs below) on how taking some time away from shopping can aid in recovery. This approach isn’t for everyone, but it helped Jill tremendously and she is the best resource I know of on the topic.
  • On Relapse, Reasons, and Recommitting(August 2014) – August seems to be when I am most prone to relapse. A year ago, I explored why it happened to me then and how I powerfully recommitted to my recovery.  I’m doing the same thing now…
  • The Things Shopping Won’t Fix(October 2014) – I outline six common life challenges that people try to address through shopping, and share some personal examples of how I’ve unsuccessfully tried to solve my problems at the mall or in online stores.

External Resources

The following books and programs are all listed on my Resources page, but I know that many readers have probably never visited that page.  So I’d like to mention a few of them here for those who might be interested.  You may also want to check out my books and the recovery tips posted on my website.

Books on Shopping Psychology

First, here are a few of my favorite books that explore the psychology behind compulsive shopping and offer assistance to those who are struggling:

  • To Buy or Not to Buy(April Benson) – A comprehensive book written by the foremost expert on the topic, filled with lots of powerful and thought-provoking exercises. I need to revisit this book soon myself…
  • You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You(Jennifer Baumgartner) – Explores nine different patterns of wardrobe behaviors and presents case studies and solutions for each.  Compulsive shopping is just one of the behaviors explored.  The author also addresses difficulty in letting go of clothing, not dressing age-appropriately, body image issues, and more.
  • Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money(Geneen Roth) – As someone who has struggled with both eating and shopping issues, I loved this book.   Geneen Roth explores how women have a tendency to alternate between “binging” and depriving themselves related to both food and spending.

Compulsive Shopping Programs

I also invite you to check out the following programs created by Jill Chivers of “Shop Your Wardrobe”:

  • My Year Without Clothes Shopping” – The My Year Without Clothes Shopping program is geared around building your knowledge, skills and self-esteem from the ground up. You’ll feel better about the wardrobe you already have, you’ll feel better about your finances, and you’ll feel better about yourself as a conscious consumer. You’ll master the techniques you need to understand what drives your spending, inform your buying choices, and create the wardrobe you want.
  • Conscious Clothes Shopping 6-Week Mini-Course” – This mini-course is for women who wish to become more conscious consumers while also remaining (or becoming more) stylish.  It’s full of tips and techniques for becoming a more conscious clothes shopper, delivered at a rate of two emails per week. In all, the mini course delivers over 50 pages of content and exercises to get you taking action right away.
  • Shop Less and Live More” – This is a fabulous website and two inspiring and affordable e-products designed to help you live your life, not spend it. Based on the idea that a happy and fulfilling life is not to be found at the mall, Jill shares 365 ideas to help you create a life you love – instead of continuing to acquire more and more things you don’t need, often don’t even want, and usually won’t use!

Other Programs

  • Dress with Less” Microcourse – If your main issue is that you have too many clothes and you want to better appreciate what you have, I highly recommend this e-course from Courtney Carver, the creator of Project 333. The course is a week long and includes 9 PDF worksheets, as well as playlists to inspire you while you’re sorting through your closet.  You’ll also be given access to a private Facebook group, where you’ll find lots of people ready to answer your questions and cheer you on.
  • Living with Ease” – We often overshop because we have too much stress in our lives. If you feel frayed, frazzled, and fried, this e-course can help you to dispel stress and prevent it from overpowering you again. The self-study format allows you to start anytime and move at your own stress-free pace, without the pressure of daily e-mails or group participation.  You will receive 30 carefully crafted lessons in one, easy to open PDF file.


I hope you will find the resources I’ve shared in today’s post useful.  If you have others you’d like to recommend, feel free to mention them. The more the merrier!  Also, if you’d like to discuss any of the topics from my “flashback” posts above, you can do so in the comments section of this post.   Due to spam issues, I’ve had to close comments on older blog posts.  I wish I didn’t have to do that, but the spam had gotten out of control and was virtually impossible for me to manage.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend.  I’ll be back soon with a great guest post on how to successfully shop on eBay.   Also coming up will be the August edition of useful links and my purchase analysis for the first half of 2015.  Stay tuned…

38 thoughts on ““Flashback Friday” on Compulsive Shopping

  1. Even the titles of your essays are helpful! I don’t have time to participate in a facebook group, but would love to see an occasional summary of the discussions.

    • I’m glad you found this post helpful, frugalscholar. I’m sure the conversations in the Facebook group will inspire future posts. We already have 93 members and things are off to a great start. I think I have already come up with 3 or 4 post ideas from the first day of what people are talking about over there.

      • i’m in a similar boat to frugalscholar… also don’t have a FB account anymore, which i assume i might need?… so i would also appreciate being able to “dip my toe” into the group with group-inspired posts!

      • Yes, you would need a Facebook account to participate, Claire. At least one group member created an account solely for participating in the group. The group will be there if you choose to join in, but I will definitely write some posts that are inspired by what the group is talking about and I will share some of the input I receive from the group in some of my standard posts as well. I believe my posts will be better as a result of interacting with all of the amazing women from around the world who are in the group!

  2. Debbie,

    You have definitely sparked some very insightful and spirited dialogue this week! I really appreciate your honesty and ability to write so eloquently on your deeply personal struggles in such a public forum.

    I found your blog because I was at the point of critical closet mass myself, but I did not really see it. Once I did, I was seeking resources like a mad-woman and found you. Last year, I had to help my mother downsize a 4-bedroom house with 7 total closets into a much smaller space. In this process, I realized I was headed toward a similar situation. My mom was choosing to commute 90 minutes or more each way to her job each day in order to keep a house full of stuff. Stuff she had sitting in closets. Much of it never used. She would spent all weekend, most weekends, shopping for more stuff. I often shopped with her as mother-daughter bonding time. I finally convinced her to move closer to her job and her kids. In packing and unpacking her stuff, I discovered a lot about myself. My mom had multiples. And, then more multiples. I unpacked a tote full of 3/4 sleeve t-shirts and put them away, most still had tags on them. The next day, I unpacked a tote with the exact same shirts also with tags. My mom had almost 100 3/4 sleeve knit tops in a variety of colors because they were “perfect to layer and hard to find” and she wanted “backups.” She could literally never buy another shirt and never wear all of these out. This was repeated for shoes, skirts, jackets, workout pants, etc. I was appalled and horrified. My mom wants to retire but “can’t because sh can’t afford it.” While all of the multiples would probably not completely allow her to retire, they certainly would make a dent.

    In looking at my own closet, I discovered that I also suffer from multiple syndrome and have so many multiples of things it is scary. Not 100 of the same shirt in different colors, but still many multiples of 3 or 4 of the same thing. I then declared I was going to get rid of the stuff and stop shopping. I immediately got rid of 35% of my clothes and 50% of my shoes by having a garage sale with my mom. That was the easy part. The harder part has come in that I still have too much stuff and am struggling to get rid of it. The good news is that I have actually bought far less this year than last year – about 50% less clothing and all of the stuff I bought this year has been sustainable and 75% less shoes. I’ve also bought no accessories at all.

    I calculated to cost of everything that was left and am working to reduce the total cost per wear by 20% this year. I plan to get rid of the bottom 20% in January and repeat the process. Your wardrobe is tiny compared to mine, so I have a long way to go.

    Please keep sharing your struggles and stay open to hearing criticism. I think like in weight loss, we hit a plateau or backslide, and having someone keep us accountable is helpful in getting back on track!

    • Thank you for you kind words, Barb, and for sharing the story of you and your mother. I think that multiples are a big problem for many people, as is a fear of scarcity, which is a primary driver for buying multiples in the first place. It seems like both you and your mother are making good progress. Kudos on the garage sale and on buying much less. It can take time to turn things around, but you are well on your way. I’m happy that my sharing my struggles is helpful to others. I am definitely open to criticism and I do learn from it, even when it’s harsh. This community helps to keep me accountable. I may not be progressing as fast as I’d like, but I know I am farther along than I would be (by far) if I had not started this blog.

  3. Hi Debbie,

    I’m grateful that you have rarely had to block comments–and that you allowed all of us to read the painful back-and-forth of the last post. Hard as it was to read, there were parts of it that were helpful to your readers, including your final long comment. Thanks for being brave.

    Isn’t it odd–the paradox of blogging about clothes reminds me of an inherent paradox in the many simplicity blogs: they stress being anti-materialistic but then focus on finding the single perfectly curated item, a kind of holy grail quest. Like the quest for a unicorn, it can’t be found, so the search is never over, and then one is constantly searching for, and obsessing about, a material object–all in the effort to become less materialistic. . . a never-ending cycle. I’m smiling as I type because I have done this often! How do I get out of the loop? (she asked, rhetorically)

    Meanwhile, I must turn from blog reading to packing up my household for a move across the country. A great incentive to donate stuff! Even after doing so, the amount of stuff one person can accumulate in 20 years of modest living in one place is extraordinary. I remind myself, if I ever start to feel deprived because I don’t have some nifty thing, all I’ll have to do is pull out my household inventory and skim the list. And while I loved the KonMarie book, I must confess that joy is not sparked by packing, even when they are things I love and/or need. Sigh. Back to work.

    • I’m glad the comments on the last post were helpful to you and others, Amy. I actually did block two comments, as they were basically rehashing what had already been said in a harsher way. We got the gist of it by that point and I really didn’t want any more back-and-forth. I don’t moderate comments as a rule and I’m glad it mostly works out.

      Your point about the paradox among simplicity blogs is right on! It can be agonizing to try to find the perfect whatever and I have definitely fallen prey to that. That’s why I had 9 black skirts at one point. But after I downsized, it started to manifest as a lot of buying and returning and then not wearing new things right away because I kept thinking there might be something even better out there. I want to write about this because I’m reading a book right now called “The Paradox of Choice” that talks about this. It’s the difference between “maximizers” and “satisficers.” The former are the ones who keep looking for perfection, while the latter find “good enough” and let it be. I am a maximizer when it comes to clothing and it’s exhausting….

      Best wishes to you with your packing and your move. Moving is definitely not fun, but it’s a good opportunity to pare down. Yes, packing does not spark joy, but I hope you will be happy with the end result.

      • Hi Debbie,
        I recently read ‘The Paradox of Choice’ (borrowed from the library!) and it was a real eye-opener for me, especially finding out that I too am a Maximizer which explained my constant search for the next perfect wardrobe item. It’s a relief to know that allowing myself to settle for ‘good enough’ in future will mean less stressful searching and hopefully less time spent shopping. A highly recommended read!

      • Thanks for sharing your input on this book, Louise. I have read half the book now and am getting a lot out of it! I also highly recommend it. It definitely seems that the Satisficers are a lot happier and have less emotional angst. Interestingly, I am a Satisficer in a lot of other areas of life (i.e. home decor, food, activities), but with clothes, I am a definite Maximizer. I think it is common for most people to concentrate their maximizing to certain areas. If I can become more of a Satisficer with my wardrobe, I know I will be a lot happier overall.

      • I read The Paradox of Choice a few years ago and have been trying to force myself to be a satisficer. I was always engaged in endless research–toaster ovens, stoves, knives, etc etc (not so much on clothing though). I was seeking perfection not just in the object, but also in the price. I still over-research things, but much less. Hopefully, I will continue on the satisficer path. I’ve been helped by the 80/20 rule: you get 80% benefit for 20% effort: the Pareto Principle.

      • Your comment shows that there is hope, frugalscholar. I am working on my tendency to over-research things, too. I agree that the Pareto Principle is powerful and important to remember. If you have ever blogged about this, please share the link, as I would like to read it – and pass it on to readers.

    • Yes, and we already have 93 members. I am amazed at how well it’s going, but I’m also very happy about it. I wish I had done it sooner, but better late than never…

  4. Thanks for the flashback Debbie. Those posts are so worth reading again. I remember I discovered my deepest and most long lasting trigger been Low Self-Esteem. “If we struggle with low self-esteem, we are likely to frequently compare ourselves to others and wind up lacking”. “No matter how thin I got or how many clothes I purchased, the low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy remained…Those feelings cannot be repaired from outside in; they much be addressed from the inside out”. These words struck my deeply. I have since been working hard on the low self-esteem and excessive shopping issue. Through all the trial and error I realized that I still care about my appearance to some extent. I want to project good and appropriate images to my colleagues, clients, friends, and even my husband and parents. Caring about appearance is so deeply rooted from my upbringing that I can’t eradicate without backfire. So I came to term with it. I put a considerable amount of time and effort to study how to dress for my body and life, and more time acquiring new wardrobe pieces to complete my desired outfits. I believe those time and money are so well spent because it(along with other measures) finally brought me to a stage where I don’t compare and feeling less. I can appreciate other people’s outfits or fashion shots without having to emulate, because I find my style and I am content with it. If anyone was observing my recovering process he or she would definitely think I am a failed shopaholic. There were times when I bought 20 items per month and then returned half of them. I am not proud of that but luckily it is only a temporary learning period before I become a mature shopper. I am sharing my experience because I feel you might be experiencing the so called setbacks due to the same reason. Dressing well is a skill that needs to be learned, and years of mindless excessive shopping doesn’t add to that learning. We need to go through the learning curve which may entail continued shopping and analyzing. Of course I don’t want to encourage anyone to shop. I am just saying that we need to put a shopper’s behavior into her background before judging. Those who naturally care more about everything else than appearance can never understand my behavior. With all these been said Debbie I do want to remind you of your own words – to repair feeling from inside out, not outside in. You seem to have bought a lot of short sleeve tees this year (more than a dozen I believe) after you determined that tees are more aligned with your casual life style. Sometimes we shopaholics always manage to define a wardrobe needs and then go over the board about it.

    • I’m so glad you feel that my posts are worth reading again, Meghan, and that you got something out of them. I appreciate your sharing your story with me/us. I still struggle with low self-esteem and it continues to be a driver of my overshopping when it occurs. I agree with you that we can have a tendency to buy more when we are learning to dress better and become more mature shoppers (good term, by the way). I don’t always write about how much I buy and return, but there is a fair amount of that going on, especially when I buy online. I have definitely bought too many items this year, including the short-sleeved shirts, a number of which didn’t work out. I really need to add just one or two at a time and wear those new pieces a lot before adding more. Old habits die hard… Yes, for shopaholics, the tendency to think “If one is good, five is better” is a danger we need to look out for.

  5. This post is SO helpful!! I feel I need to buy all those books now… Although I already have the April Benson, but I never followed through with the program because I wasn’t ready to stop spending yet. Perhaps I should dust it off before hitting Amazon lol. I’m also thinking I should join the local library.


    • I’m so glad you found this post helpful. C. I was inspired to write it after all of the interchange from the last post. I need to dust off the April Benson book, too, because clearly I didn’t internalize all of the lessons the first time. Joining the local library is a good idea. I used to be a shopaholic with books, too. It was a huge problem for me. I buy far fewer books these days and tend to lean more toward e-books. But I often don’t think to check the library, which is an excellent (and free) option.

  6. This is more in response to the comments on the last post. I think Debbie’s process makes sense for her. After all she is the one doing it. It also makes sense to me that different people, because of their own experiences, will have different responses to addicts. All are legitimate.

    I believe when it comes to habits, awareness of self is key and by paying attention you become your own expert. I can sometimes find moderation harder that going cold turkey. For instance after a party I have to give the bread away so I don’t eat entire loaves, but that’s me. Bread is a substance I want to gorge on, it’s better to not have it in the house. However I have no problem with moderation and alcohol.
    I truly believe there is more than one way to do things and that Debbie is on her path and since it’s her path with all its pain, lessons and victories she can’t be doing it wrong — it’s her path after all.

    • I definitely agree that moderation is harder than cold turkey, Mary. I used to struggle with eating issues, too, and wouldn’t keep certain types of food in the house. I would only eat those things when I was out at a restaurant so that I wouldn’t go overboard. With shopping, I have done cold turkey periods a number of times, but I found that I dove right back into overshopping afterwards, often more so because I felt deprived. Thank you for your encouragement about my process. I know I have done some things wrong and I get frustrated with myself for sure. But as long as I am learning and growing, it is not for naught. There is no one right way to recover from anything. Even though AA works wonderfully for many, many people, for example, there are people who have recovered from alcoholism using other approaches. For compulsive shopping, a hiatus can work wonders for many, but it is certainly not the only way to recover. No matter what, one will eventually have to shop again and she will need to learn to do so in moderation at some point. I am great with moderation some months and not others, but I think I will eventually get to the point when I will be able to do it all the time. And despite what my critics might say, I really don’t think that point is too far off.

  7. Hi Debbie. I think you responded really well to the comment. I felt sorry for Gloria and how her mother’s addiction had impacted on her and her family, but also for her mother for whom there seemed to be no understanding or compassion. Addictions, compulsions and obsessions have such complex and diverse roots causes and manifestations, physical, emotional, psychological and social it is naive to think the person is simply being selfish, greedy, stupid or willful and they can simply stop doing it. Your blog helps us be more aware and mindful of our shopping and the wider issues associated with it. It gives people a chance to learn from each other and not feel alone with it.

    • Great comment, Lynn. I have compassion for what Gloria went through, too, and I think you made some really good points about her mother and other addicts. I agree that it’s naive to simply label all of us as greedy, selfish, and other such adjectives. I appreciate what you wrote about my blog. It has always been my intention for my blog to occupy that role. I am willing to be a sort of “poster child” for compulsive shopping if it will help others to feel less alone and more understood.

      • oy. some of what u guys said here is hitting close to home in my gut (although in my case mom’s an alcoholic not shopaholic). your points about considering the addict’s POV are totally valid. as the child/victim, it is so hard to feel that kind of understanding/compassion. i’ve had so much anger, rage, bitterness, resentment from the havoc it wrought on my life – that this angle of the comments didn’t even occur to me until Lynn articulated it. anyway, good food for thought (for me)

      • Your feelings are totally understandable, Claire. I can imagine it would be very hard to be the child of an alcoholic and that it wouldn’t be easy to feel compassion for someone who made your life really hard. I’m glad Lynn’s comment has provided you with some good food for thought. The comments here always give me a lot to think about, too, and I learn a lot from all of you.

  8. I decided to abstain from commenting on the last post because I didn’t need more judgement. I already take care of that myself.

    I am trying to seek balance as a person who loves clothing and fashion (on a fairly pedestrian and practical level, thankfully). I love to feel put together and stylish, as I define it for myself. I don’t want to completely stop shopping because I enjoy it, but I don’t want to feel it is taking up an inappropriate amount of my time or resources either. It’s about trying to fit it into a proper place in my life – one that existed in my past, and it’s my goal to reach that place for myself again.

    Let’s make a deal – I will try to resist judging others on all of the things they spend money on that I don’t, if they will reciprocate for me.

    • I want the same things you want, Angela, and I am definitely more harsh and judgmental toward myself than anyone else ever could be. It’s been a major struggle for me to learn to show myself any love and compassion. I think your deal is a good one to strike. What we spend money on is a very individual thing and we almost never knew all of the specifics of other people’s situations. It’s so easy to judge other people based on only partial information, but things are rarely black and white.

  9. Hello again Debbie. It’s been quite a while since my previous communication. I’ve had another spate of “buying & discarding”, but am improving; as my account has been only slightly in the red this last time. Six bin bags for charity last week – now own an extremely neat, manageable wardrobe, thinned down almost to the bone. Washing & ironing is a dream now with so much less to deal with; plus a feeling of freedom without the burden of junk everywhere. Funny isn’t it how buying things gives you a buzz, so too does clearing it out. Hope everyone is getting on OK dealing with their clothing troubles – hang on in there folks.

    • Good to hear from you again, Sue, and congratulations on your passing so many items on to charity last week. I agree that getting rid of things can produce a high just like shopping can. It always feels good to have a smaller and more workable wardrobe and I get frustrated towards myself for filling it up again. I’m glad you are focusing on how you are improving instead of beating yourself up.

  10. I saw the comments on the last post and was really displeased to see an user lash out to other people never met before and be judgemental and patronizing (seriously, all that capslock made me laugh, was it really necessary?).
    What I can’t stand about ‘the scolding technique’ (trying to rectify problems by instilling endless guilt into people) is that people who use it usually are just doing it to vent their frustrations about that same problem: they’re not really interested in helping, they just have some anger they want to let loose. And after that they don’t offer a solution or a way of overcoming the problem, so the scolded person will feel even worse and think that his/her difficulty is really grave and insurmountable. I definitely prefer a kinder approach, that takes into account the person’s emotions, doesn’t stomp all over their self-esteem, and actually proposes solutions instead of recriminations and judgement.
    As for this post, this is a really helpful round-up of various solutions and I really like it, I will definitely will be re-reading your posts! And also the facebook group is a wonderful idea, I’m sure many people will benefit from a platform where you can discuss without fear of being judged!

    • I’ve never commented before, but I’ve been especially interested in the posts over the last few days. Lots of things to think about, for me.
      Gloria is in a lot of pain. Those of us who struggle with overshopping are at the beginning of the cycle and someone like Gloria is at the end of of it. The end effects of it. I look at my kids, and hope I don’t cause similar heartache. Or teach them bad habits,or give the girls any notion their worth is measured in their appearance.
      I have wondered, also, if there are any male readers out there. In general,are men afflicted with compulsive shopping that has a focus on appearance and self-esteem ? We know guys like their gadgets and collections. I’m wondering if the kind of thing we’ve been talking about is a result of pressure on women alone.

      • I realize that I didn’t comment about men and shopping. I don’t know how many male readers I have, but there have been a few men who have “liked” my Facebook page (not the new group but the “fan page” for Recovering Shopaholic). According to the following article, men and women are almost equally likely to have compulsive buying problems: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/03/men-and-women-are-probably-equally-likely-to-be-shopaholics/274385/ The article mentions that the types of things men and women buy often varies, with men usually focusing more on electronics and car-related items rather than clothes, shoes, and jewelry. It’s an interesting read and I may share it in my August useful links post.

    • Maria and Babs, you both made some excellent points. It is clear that Gloria is in a lot of pain and I feel compassion for her. I think having a parent with any type of addiction or compulsion is very difficult. It’s great that there are support groups such as Al-Anon to help the casualties of addiction. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of resources yet for overshoppers or their children, but I hope there will be more as time goes on. I wanted to share some ones I knew about, though, which is why I wrote this post. I thought it might be helpful to many and I hope it has been. I agree with Maria that the “shaming method” rarely helps people to change and it can often make people worse. I definitely prefer a kinder approach, too. I don’t think anyone should be coddled or lied to, but if you stomp all over someone’s self-esteem, they rarely change. They will likely just avoid you and may delve more deeply into their maladaptive behavior. There is no one right way for get over these types of problems, but I think most people benefit more from kindness and compassion than “tough love” that crosses the line into shaming.

  11. Hi Debbie. I missed the last couple of posts as I was away, but have flicked through them, and some of the above – many thanks for these. I’ve realised that I don’t have a serious shopping problem (although I would like to develop better personal style, and to shop more wisely) – however I do have a ‘virtual’ shopping problem. It was particularly evident on my return from my short break, when I was meant to open and go through a large list of emails, many of which I knew would raise problems that I would have to deal with. I opened a couple and then… started browsing sites I like on the internet – I did this for almost the whole day. I’ve mentioned this habit before, but am only just beginning to be honest with myself about the extent of it – it is wasting hours of time that could undoubtedly be better spent on, well, just about anything! Eg, if I don’t want to deal with work related problems, I could at least go for nice walk or run an errand – something worthwhile. So I’ve decided to start treating it seriously, and have been reading up a bit about anxiety, avoidance, and coping strategies etc, – it’s undoubtedly stress related.
    Sorry for the ramble, but I think your latest posts have been delving into the real causes of these compulsions, so they really struck a chord with me!

    • No apologies necessary, Alice. I’m sure many can identify with your comment. I know I can… I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve browsed e-commerce sites (or fashion blogs/forums) instead of doing the things I need to do but don’t want to do. It’s been one of my most common ways to procrastinate and it hasn’t served me at all! The fact that you have recognized this tendency in yourself is an important step toward overcoming it, so I commend you. I hope you will find a way to develop balance with your online shopping. Coming up with a list of other coping strategies will definitely help, as will learning more about the root causes of the behavior. I wish you the very best of luck!

  12. Hello Debbie – from a long-time reader/first-time commenter

    Having recently found myself unemployed due to the closing of a much loved organization – and finding that a new position is eluding me – I have struggled w feeling lonely and disconnected. Especially as my husband is still working (retirement likely 2+ years away) and several dear friends live far away. Astonishing how much bandwidth just the process of getting dressed for work, commuting, and working takes – now my days seem to stretch endlessly, weekends have lost their punch and I’m at loose ends while fighting various sized waves of depression, resentment and the like.

    After a couple of angst filled months – a few modestly satisfying routines are gradually coming into place. But the daily interactions I so enjoyed (well, at times they were difficult of course) w colleagues feels irreplaceable. And yet – here’s an author who challenges the idea that every connection has to be deep and long-lived: “Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection” by Barbara Fredrickson, PhD.

    Maybe there is something there for you or a few of your readers. Here’s a sample:

    “Love is that micro-moment of warmth and connection you share with another living being.”

    “Love requires you to be physically and emotionally present. It also requires that you slow down.”

    Thank you for all the hard work and devotion you put into your blog and your process. I have learned a lot from you over the years. Please accept my apology for not commenting earlier – in many ways – you and the rich comments of your readers – have provided me with many small moments of awareness, challenge and affirmation. I am grateful to each of you for your thoughtful engagement.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Dorothy. No need to apologize for not commenting sooner. Most blog readers will never comment and that’s okay. But I do like to hear from readers and I’m glad my blog has been helpful to you. I appreciate your kind words! I also appreciate your sharing about some of your journey and giving us the quotes and the great new resource. I like that perspective on love. I know that I have had many a “micro-moment” of love in interacting with readers of this blog. I definitely feel less alone than before I started the blog, but I still need to work on overcoming my isolation. Getting some routines in place is helpful and I’m glad you have been able to do that. I hope that you will be able to find a new job and more ways to interact with others soon.

  13. I clicked to join!

    I did really well this weekend. I went shopping, the first time I’ve been in awhile because I’ve been on vacation and weekend away trips. I shopped, thinking I might like one or two things. In the end I decided I really needed to go home and look at my closet before I bought anything for Fall.

    As I’ve become more mindful of what has worked and what hasn’t worked for me I’m less willing to purchase if I have doubts based on prior experience. I’m not sure it will result in a more wearable wardrobe and less waste, but I did feel like I went shopping and avoided making mistakes.

    • I’m glad you decided to join the Facebook group, Ginger. There is a lot of great conversation going on over there. I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with it all, but it’s nice that it doesn’t all need my presence. Everyone is interacting with each other and that’s wonderful! Congrats on your shopping success this past weekend. Sometimes leaving empty-handed is the best possible outcome and I think it’s wise for you to consult your closet before shopping for Fall. I do think that being more considered and mindful about what we are buying will result in a more wearable wardrobe and less waste over time. Of course, we will still make mistakes sometimes, but I think the percentage will decrease and we’ll be happier about what we buy and what we have.

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