In general, having more things means enjoying life less. What we consume can end up consuming us.

“The high of the buy” briefly lifts your spirits, but it’s short lived and then you’re down again, but a little lower this time. Shopaholics know the consequences of their habit through the shame, the guilt, the debt, the distraction, and the scary reality of the monthly credit card payments.

Behind all the smiles, there is fall out again and again. Overconsumption is like a poisonous vine winding around relationships, work, and financial stability. It chokes out joy, self-esteem, and quality of life.

Net worth becomes self worth!

Nearly all over shoppers suffer from chronically low self-esteem and insecurity and have difficulty tolerating negative moods. There is also a strong need for approval from the outside world. Why do we need approval from others?

Approval = Second Hand Love

When we seek approval from the outside we are actually looking for love. Unfortunately approval is conditional love. Many of us didn’t receive the unconditional love we needed growing up, so we settled for second best…approval.

Money and material goods are high on the list of values we use to get the approval we so desperately want. Material goods then become the yardstick by which to measure self and others.

 We’re using up time, energy, and money in the pursuit of things that won’t, and can’t make us happy. And in doing so, we’re missing out on the things that will and can.

What Are You Shopping For?

 Some of my earliest fondest memories are shopping with my Mom. I was raised in a culture that heads to the shops to feel better. Beginning in childhood, I was either denied, or given, what I wanted based on my behavior. Shopping was the reward for being a good girl, a time to fantasize and feel loved. There was a charge to finding the perfect toy or game. I felt truly happy and loved. This shifted in my teenage years, when approval from my peers took center stage, I learned to shop to fit in and be accepted.

Why did I over shop? Where did the urge to over shop come from? What was I shopping for? What kept me shopping, even when it didn’t seem to make sense anymore?

I had to take a look at my life and what was underneath my urge to splurge, because it is very much connected to who I was and what I needed.

Bottom line, over shopping is a coping mechanism, a way I temporarily distracted myself from my authentic personal needs that weren’t being met.

I overshopped since my early adulthood. I have spent hundreds of thousands on items I didn’t need. This was especially true with clothing and shoes, my way of filling a place within me that could never be filled. It was insatiable. It wasn’t until I looked deeply into what had caused the fear, hurt, and pain, and ways to heal that part of myself, that my life began to change. Working with clients over the years I have discovered many of us fall under the categories listed below.

Awareness is key if we are to make positive change happen. Take a look and underline anything that rings true for you:

  • Do you over shop to fit into an appearance-obsessed society?
  • Do you over shop to project an image of wealth and power?
  • Do you over shop to soothe yourself or repair your mood?
  • Do you over shop to avoid dealing with something important?
  • Do you over shop to hold on to love?
  • Have you grown up with unrealistically high expectations of yourself?
  • Do you have a hard time accepting yourself as you are?
  • Do you use shopping as a weapon to express anger or seek revenge?
  • Do you over shop in response to stress, loss, or trauma?
  • Do you over shop because it’s a lesser evil from other addictions?
  • Do you over shop to feel more in control of your life?

If any of these ring true for you read on for the ‘why’ behind the addiction:

Do you over shop to fit into an appearance-obsessed society?

Our preoccupation with youth, beauty, and style, and our under emphasis on wisdom, growth, and substance, sets us up to overvalue appearance.

“Image is everything,” distills into three words the message that underlies most advertising. Nowhere is that message more prominent than in the realm of fashion.

You can never keep up with the fashion train, which is carefully scheduled to make costly new stops each season.

Compulsive shopping is typically an attempt to hide a negative body image or seek approval from others. On the physical level, few of us, however hard we shop or spend, will ever look like the images sold with the goods we buy. On the metaphorical level, no amount of attention to external appearance can cloak whatever ugliness we see, or emptiness we feel inside.

If you place great importance on the way you look, if you find fashionable clothes essential to looking good, if you doubt your ability to look good without the excessive use of beauty services and/or plastic surgery, you’ve likely been seduced by the image-mongers.

Instead of working endlessly to look like somebody else, or a younger, leaner, buffer, or sexier version of you-its time to learn to love your self the way you look and are. You will need support for this; it’s not a journey that can be taken alone.

Do you over shop to project an image of wealth and power?

In a consumer culture, wealth and power are extremely desirable, since these allow virtually limitless spending. The message is that happiness and self-esteem are directly proportional to the quality (and quantity) of material things you can amass.

A Mercedes, then, is not simply