Is Shopping Till You Drop a Problem?

Is Shopping Till You Drop a Problem? Ever shopped because you're stressed or anxious? To distract yourself from problems or after a fight with your spouse? Because you're bored, lonely? Do you shop every day? What would happened if you didn't? What do you imagine you're really going for when you shop? (What feeling are you trying to deal with, deny or fill?)

I'm one of those odd women who don't like to shop, but I know women who shop every day. It's their go-to stress reliever. Consumerism drives our economy so perhaps we should thank these women. But some of these are compulsive buyers who are addicted to the high and the illusion of relief they get from heading out to the mall, getting the attention from the clerks, placing their purchases in the bag and stepping out of their problems, even for a couple hours. Some of these have lost control of the choice to shop or not, and are suffering with guilt, shame, debt and relationship problems.

April Lane Bensen, editor of "I Shop, There I Am" says 5% of the U.S. population are compulsive shoppers. A Merck Family Fund poll found that 72% of Americans say people (other people, of course) buy things as a substitute for something missing in their lives. Don't you wonder what the NEED is that's being filled by shopping?

Compulsive buying is defined as "purchasing that becomes a primary response to negative feelings and that provides immediate short-term gratification, but will ultimately cause harm to the individual and others." (Ronald J. Farber, University Minn.)

If you're wondering if your shopping is a problem ask yourself a few questions - gently, by the way:

Do I get preoccupied with thinking about or actually buying?

Am I spending more than I can afford to?

Do I have debt (from buying) but that doesn't stop my shopping?

Do I hide my purchases or the amount I'm spending from my partner?

Is my buying behavior causing problems in my relationships?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, are you ready to start dealing with the this problem? Unfortunately, depending on where you're at on the continuum of addictive behavior, it won't go away on it's own.

I recommend April Lane Benson's To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop or Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom by myself.