2018 UPDATE: Please note that as of January 2018, I’m back to blogging! You can read more about it in this post, but I invite you to visit my new blog, Full Life Reflections, where I write about the journey towards happiness, peace, and fulfillment in today’s chaotic world. My new blog basically picks up where this one left off on the “full life” side of the equation… Hope to see you there!
I’m grateful for the wonderful comments and emails I received on my last two posts, “Recapping Balance and Striving for Peace” and “The End Game of Project 333 and Capsule Wardrobes” (NOTE: both of these posts have been moved over to my new blog). I’m always happy when my writing resonates with readers and I appreciate those who took the time to let me know that what I wrote was meaningful to them. I’m actually quite proud of these two essays, as well as much of the content I’ve published in the past four years.
The Value of the “Power Pause”
I’ve often written about the “power pause” (a term borrowed from Jill Chivers of “Shop Your Wardrobe”) as a helpful technique for cutting down on mindless shopping and compulsive buying. So many of us feel utterly convinced in the moment that we have to have a particular item of clothing, but if we push ourselves to wait for a couple of days – or even a few hours – that need often dissipates. I use this technique as much as possible, even if it means leaving items in my online shopping cart overnight or having to backtrack to a brick-and-mortar store the next day to buy something. More often than not, I don’t end up purchasing the item in question because the passage of time shows me that it’s just not critical to my wardrobe or my life. I simply don’t need it as much as I thought I did, if at all. The power pause has saved me a lot of money I might have spent on items I didn’t really need or even want. It’s also saved me countless hours spent on making returns, as well as deep feelings of guilt regarding the sheer waste of it all.
Today’s post kicks off a series of at least two installments on the topics of weight, body image, shopping, and personal style. These subjects have been at the top of my mind lately, as I’ve experienced some weight fluctuations resulting from health challenges and hormonal changes. This has been going on for months now, but sometimes things feel too emotionally raw for me to post about. However, since I realize that I’m not alone in these struggles, I’ve broached the subject in my private Facebook group and will do so here as well.
How does your body image affect your shopping and style?
As someone with a long history of eating disorders (which I wrote about here) and negative body image (I even used to have a blog about that topic – you can now find those posts HERE), it’s very challenging for me to deal with what I’ve been going through lately. What makes it even more problematic is that I don’t really understand the reasons for my body shifts or what to do about them (I’m not overeating and I continue to exercise regularly). It’s often difficult for me to get dressed and I sometimes don’t feel good about how I look at all. I experienced similar issues in the early days of the blog, which I wrote about in this April 2013 post. Interestingly, I could basically write the same words again today, except I also have the specter of turning 50 hanging over my head (just over a month now…).
I have been writing this blog for almost 3.5 years now (here’s my very first post, from January 2, 2013). When I started, I thought it was perhaps a one-year endeavor or maybe two years at the most. I believed that through setting goals and rules and writing about my motivations and behavior, I would overcome my compulsive shopping problem in relatively short order. I never expected to attract as many readers as I have or continue the blog for as long as I have. But the readers came (for which I’m very thankful) and it hasn’t been as easy for me to recover as I thought it would be.
This was a typical scene for me before I started this blog…
Earlier this year, I published two posts on the topic of recovery, both my own and in general:
I also shared insights from my private Facebook group on the causes of members’ shopaholic behavior. These are all great posts that I’m quite proud of, but I’d like to further the discussion today and get more personal about the state of my recovery.
I have written several posts on the reasons why people shop too much and I’ve also explored my own personal motivations for overshopping.
Here are links to some of these posts for those who are didn’t see them the first time around or may wish to read them again:
Earlier this month, the topic of reasons for shopping addiction came up in my private Facebook group. I was impressed by both the depth and diversity of the responses and thought it would be helpful to post some of them here. It’s my hope that reading these insights will assist you in becoming more present to what’s behind your compulsive shopping.
Before I delve into today’s post, I want to welcome all those who have found my blog via my Today Show appearance on Monday! I also want to share the link to the segment for those who weren’t able to watch it live.
Shopaholic? When compulsive shopping becomes a painful obsession
Many of us indulge in a bit of “retail therapy” now and then, but when shopping becomes a compulsion, the consequences can be painful and heartbreaking. Jenna Bush Hager kicks off a new TODAY series, Compelling Compulsions.
I’m pleased that I was able to share my story in such a high-profile place, as I know there are many people out there who are struggling with compulsive shopping and feel alone and unsure of what to do or where to turn. I hope that some of those people were able to find this community.
I was recently interviewed for a television segment that will air next week (see the end of this post for more information) and I was asked about how far along I am in my recovery from compulsive shopping. After pondering for a moment, I said that I am approximately 75% recovered at this point and will always have to be vigilant of my shopping behavior and the underlying feelings. In today’s post, I reflect upon the growth I’ve achieved thus far, where I am today in my recovery, and how I see the future unfolding.
The Starting Point
I started this blog in January 2013. At that time, I had a closet stuffed full of clothes that I rarely or never wore, a wardrobe that lacked cohesion, little comprehension of my personal style aesthetic, virtually no control over my shopping behavior, and a completely unbalanced life. Shopping was my main hobby and I shopped as a way of dealing with all types of feelings and life situations, both positive and negative.
I was recently interviewed by a journalism student in the UK for a piece she was writing on compulsive shopping. That article, titled “Retail Therapy or Shopaholic,” was recently published on a site called Self London. The piece also includes feedback from two other women, as well as a consumer psychologist and a researcher who studies shopping behavior. The article concludes by outlining three different types of “retail therapy.”
As is often the case with journalists, I was asked quite a few questions and most of my input didn’t make it into the finished article. However, I thought that what I had to say might be of interest to the readers of this blog. Read on for my thoughts on shopaholic signs and reasons, shopping influences, my top tips for recovery, and some highlights of my personal journey. This post is a very good encapsulation of the things I’ve been writing about on this blog for over three years now.
Does this image resemble any of your recent shopping experiences?