Money is Like Any Other Addiction

My friend Marianne Peck, therapist and writer says, "People are dumber than rats." Let me explain. She’s referring to the experimental rats that go through a maze once and, when they don’t get food, change directions or stop. Not so for people. We will keep doing the same behavior, over and over, expecting a different result. Twelve step programs call this very human behavior insanity.

Let's look at the progression of an addiction. According to Craig Nakken, addiction expert, it goes like this:  pattern, habit, compulsion (obsession) addiction. When I first smoked cigarettes it was occasional use. As the years went by when I was stressed or upset a cigarette smoothed those feelings and a habit of relying on the FEELING of escape and relief developed that I knew would come from smoking. It wasn't easy for me to quit, but easier than than for  someone like Amy Winehouse (bless her heart - we could all see that one coming) who had moved into the compulsion/obsession phase and lost control of choice.

Now, how does this model fit with money?  Here's another addiction field saying: We want what we want and we want it now. A new Iphone, Ipad, large screen TV anyone? Don't have the money in savings?  CHARGE it!!  We Americans have the debt to prove that the well developed habit of consuming can demonstrate rats superiority. True or False?  Americans spend 95% of their disposable income. (US Department Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis 2010)

How do we change a habit? Practice. We have practiced the habit (for some an addiction) of spending and consumerism. Yes, advertisers have manipulated us for their bottom lines. Ok, that's their job. It's our job to take our power back and decide how to spend our hard-earned money.  The gift/curse of this economic recession is that we're being forced to really THINK about where and how we want to spend our money. This is good PRACTICE. Let's be careful not to let fear (see previous blog) run the show. Assess where you're at with spending and how do you think about your money? Where's the middle ground with spending? What's one small change you'd like to make regarding any addictive behavior you have?