The Myths of a Compulsive Shopper

English: DC USA, Best Buy, Black Friday

English: DC USA, Best Buy, Black Friday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I absolutely love shopping.  In fact, I once was a compulsive shopper until I was swept over the dam with credit card debt.  Shopping, especially for non-food items can become habitual and even addicting.  As for some, it can go way too far, even posing as a severe financial endangerment to those who can’t control themselves.

Although, not every compulsive shopper is exactly the same, there are common modes of thinking that bring on this habit.  Having been one myself, I have written this post to bring its readers deep into the ecstatic world of the compulsive shopper, the way I see it anyway.  As the expression goes: “It takes one to know one” and I was one (and deep down still am)….so I should know.

Just a head’s up, this post is rather long but well sectioned off.  Therefore, you are free to read the whole thing or just the parts that interest you.

Why We Shop

Shopping serves as a vehicle not only to obtaining more possessions, but also as an enjoyable pastime.  It is believed to be a means of filling many of the voids that make our lives seem unpleasant or unfulfilling.  By having all the nice things we long for, some of us tend to think we will attain an eternal happier standard of living.  Some of us may be convinced that having more will make us quite powerful or more socially acceptable.  To some, by having more, we can overcome the blues and maybe even eliminate the harsh blows life deals us in the future.  Still, others are deeply set into changing trends or styles and feel the need to keep up.  Shopping can be an attempt to “keep up with the Jones.”

The real truth is….shopping doesn’t really change our lives at all.  In fact, it may make our lives worse, especially if we go deeply into debt.  Those with the strong urge to shop compulsively refuse to see the financial damage it can do to us, especially if we must use credit cards to support this evil habit.

My Compulsive Shopping Experience

I loved shopping in the 1980s.  I would mostly shop for CDs or clothes.  Whenever a good album would come out, I just had to get it as if I don’t get it now, I never will.  Having superb audio and video equipment was nice.  I would go into Best Buy and other electronic shops, even when I didn’t need anything urgently.  When shopping for clothes I would look through any store that I could get to conveniently by bus such as Woolworths, Target, K-mart, Sears, JC Penney’s, etc.  I would go through racks of shirts, pants, or jackets imagining that having these clothes would make me a much happier person.  None of these things really changed me whatsoever.

Finally, with my urge to shop came the denial of potential financial trouble.  I figured since I had a steady job and have always made my payments in the past, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to pay my bills on time in the future.  Wrong!  Now I say that going into debt is like consuming too much alcohol.  You never see it coming, but eventually builds up whether you feel it or not.  The next thing you know, you’re totally out of control.

Following are some myths compulsive shoppers might create:

Myth 1:  I must shop to be happy.

Just think of your previous shopping experiences.  Most likely, most, if not all of them were enjoyable:

  • Maybe you were just happy to get out of the house.
  • Driving around your community and investigating any changes was interested you.
  • Walking down the halls of the mall just to see what stores were currently there.
  • Observing the holiday decorations and being a part of the atmosphere.
  • Finding great deals on things you want.
  • Comparing different brands of the type of item you’re looking for.
  • Expecting good deals on days like Black Friday or the day after Christmas.
  • Sorting through racks of clothes and finding some you really like.
  • Discovering products that you didn’t know existed.
  • Watching other shoppers to see what they’ll do.
  • Coming home late in the day with the great feeling that you really accomplished something.
  • Opening your newfound treasures and using them right away.

Past joyful experiences encourage shoppers to shop even more in the future.

However, if you hate traffic and shuffling your way through crowded malls, shopping online may be the thing for you.  Although shopping online lacks the tangible experience of traditional shopping, it is still fun in its own ways because:

  • You never have to leave your home.
  • You need not have to bring your children along or find a sitter for them.
  • You can find the best deal by browsing several retailers sites-all in a matter of minutes.
  • You can read reviews on various products before making a purchase.
  • The feeling of satisfaction you get once you’ve placed your order.
  • You can anticipate the arrival of your new product soon.

If you spend a great deal of time on the internet, most likely, you have certain sites that you love to buy from.  From sites as Amazon and eBay, you anticipate great deals and can find almost anything under the sun without going from store to store.  At the same time, you can shop for items you cannot afford now, but expect to in the future.

Even if you only shop online, you still can be a compulsive shopper, especially if past online shopping results were fantastic ones.  It can be habit forming all the same and some do it continuously because they always have.  Online shoppers are no different when it comes to their wants and needs and the feeling of accomplishment they get from shopping.

Myth 2:  Shopping will make my life more pleasurable.

Shopping brings on a temporary state of bliss.  By having many of the newest and niftiest gadgets around, your home life is likely to be a happier one. For example, you have a stereo where you can plug an iPod into, a Karaoke machine, an Xbox 360, and perhaps some dazzling new lamps to brighten up the living room.  Now your household is a much more pleasant atmosphere and it will be from now on.

It’s now a dream-come-true or a story that ends with the line “and they lived happily ever after.”  The truth is, that one day the thrill of these new household additions will be gone, perhaps long before the bills are paid.

Myth 3:  Shopping might improve my social life.

So maybe you want to make your home more cheerful and charming so when people come over, they’ll truly enjoy themselves too.  Maybe by updating your wardrobe, you’ll give your coworkers and friends a better impression of you.  And if you’re into the latest movies, books, or music, you’ll have something to talk about at work.

For example, a woman can browse through a rack of “cocktail dresses” and be amazed at how nice some of them are.  She will then get the strong urge to buy a few as she envisions herself going to parties or on cruises while wearing them.  The truth is, if she rarely if ever goes out, her fantasies will never come true.  These dresses won’t magically make that happen.

Deep inside, you may have this urge to “keep up with the Jones” to convince family members or friends that you are just like them and once they see that, you’ll win their approval.  The real truth lies not in what you have but who you are.  If you feel you don’t fit in with society as well as you’d like to, having a lot of the latest things won’t make any difference.

Myth 4:  Shopping can make me a better person.


Most, if not all of us, would like to take on a new hobby, learn a new skill, or become more educated about a particular subject.  These days, there are lots of books, videos, and kits that encourage learning or developing skills.  All of these products come in shiny, new boxes with fancy, eye-catching artwork on the covers as a means of convincing shoppers that using their product is easy, fun, and will promise them instant success.  All you need to do is follow their simple instructions and “presto”, you are now an expert at whatever it is the manufacturers or publishers aim to teach.

For example, a woman sees a new food processor and believes she could cook like a chef with this new utensil.  If she always wanted a food processor, such a purchase would most likely benefit her.  On the other hand, if she never used one before nor ever needed one, this appliance will collect dust in her cupboard.

Another example may be a man who stumbles upon an iPad while shopping at an electronic store.  Though he never had the use for one, he can’t pass up this irresistible deal.  Maybe it could help him keep up to date with the newest gadgets on the market or make browsing online handy when he’s not at his computer.

Yet another example may be a mother who wants to teach her children more about animals, so she buys them educational videos on these subjects.  If her kids lose interest, these videos will add to the closet clutter.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great do-it-yourself tools and media packages out there, but they won’t change your life.  Only you can do that.  Doing so means dedicating long, hard hours with a great amount of perspiration, but even then, there’s no guarantee that this product will be a total success.  Not too many people realize this and therefore lose interest in them fast.  Sooner or later, these once glittering, shiny products end up sitting on closet shelves losing their luster and collecting dust.  Exercise equipment is another great example, especially if these contraptions can be handily stored under beds.

Myth 5:  I only want a few more things and I’ll be totally satisfied.

I’ve told myself that over and over again over the years, but something seems to keep coming up that makes me want to purchase something else.  Maybe it’s a new MP3 player, a particular shirt, a new computer printer, or what have you.  You’re thoroughly convinced that you need absolutely need this thing NOW or you won’t be totally satisfied.  Next thing you know, you’re out shopping for it and stumble upon other dazzling things on the way.

Sometimes it’s best to creatively make do with what you have rather than opt for the next best thing.  However, if you should buy this “thingy”, whatever it is, your need has been sated but soon you might realize you didn’t really need it after all.  Maybe it isn’t quite what you expected but you feel you have no legitimate reason to return it.  Next thing you realize, your budget is running low and you regret making that extra purchase.  Now what?  If only you held off a little longer, you could have gotten it when you could really afford it.  Remember, more than likely this extra thing you need will still be there a month or a year from now.  You can always get it then.

18 signs you may be a compulsive shopper:

  • The main reason you get the daily paper is to see the ads.
  • You shop frequently on lunch breaks.
  • You’re never satisfied, you always want something more.
  • You turn to shopping because you’re bored or depressed and there’s nothing else to do.
  • Keeping up with the latest styles in anything is of utmost importance.
  • You love to impress others by showing them things you’ve recently purchased.
  • You arrange time to browse through stores while running errands.
  • You continuously observe what others have and become envious of them.
  • You’re not totally happy about your life and dream a lot about the type of person you’d like to be, or the lifestyle you like to live.
  • You measure your self-worth on what kind of possessions you have and judge others by things they own.
  • You’re very materialistic.
  • You continuously compare yourself to others.
  • Making the most of the holidays is extremely important to you.
  • Just to get the best deals, you’re willing to wake up as early as 5:00 am.
  • Standing in long lines for something doesn’t bother you.  If you must camp outside a store, you will.
  • Collecting complete sets of things is a big priority for you.
  • Your house is so cluttered it’s hard to walk around.
  • Clipping coupons and comparing prices in flyers seems to be a bigger priority to you than anything else.

Thank you for reading and I do appreciate your comments.  If would like to leave me a comment, tell me what you liked or disliked about this article.  If there’s something I left out or you disagree with, let me know.



Recession-Related Suicides

In 1931, over 1000 unemployed men marched from...

In 1931, over 1000 unemployed men marched from the Esplanade to the Treasury Building in Perth, Western Australia to see Premier Sir James Mitchell. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Are there recession-related suicides?  Yes!   Suicide rates have risen 20% during the Great Depression.  With that in mind, I began to wonder if some folks have ended their lives just because of the recession.  Long periods of unemployment affect former job holders much greater than one can imagine.


It is not so surprising that jobless consumers are two to three times more likely to consider taking their own lives according to The Washington Independent website.  Here, you can read stories of homeless people that are having difficulties and cannot depend on local public services as the Department of Human Services (DHS) or the Salvation Army.  This only leaves them to roam the streets day and night with no particular place to go or no goals to pursue.


Those lucky enough to have a roof over their head, especially homeowners, are still under a great amount of stress.  For most, their unemployment checks are about to run out, their utilities are endangered of being shut off, and they must choose between feeding their families or living in a home where all of the utilities are running.  At the same time, these individuals or families are facing a possible eviction or foreclosure.  To top it all off, some are in danger of or have had their vehicles repossessed.  Some would like to purchase nicer things, but have no choice but to make do with what they have.  Others have no funds to replace things if they break down (as the furnace, an appliance, etc).


Consider those with pets.  We must not forget they need food and periodic care.  Those who are in severe financial turmoil may have no choice but to abandon them.  Turning in unwanted pets to the humane society may seem harsh, but what else can their owners do?  What if the animal shelter is full and cannot accept any more?  It is then up to the owner to decide what to do with them.  Finding someone who will adopt them is rarely easy, if not impossible.  Some may go as far as killing them or turning them loose into the wild.  Needless to say, it tears an owner’s heart out to abandon his pets.


I have sympathy for these people.


Not only is this stressful to the bread winners, but also seemingly disgraceful.  It leaves them between a rock and a hard place.  They’ve sent out countless numbers of resumes with no response back and have become tired and hopeless when considering their job search.


What are these parents suppose to tell their children?   What once dependents expected from their parents (clothing, food, and shelter) is nearly gone (if not completely gone).  Children, especially younger ones, will be heartbroken knowing they’re being deprived of what they hoped to have.  Tension can grow as siblings must fight one-another for things they need.


In 2007 I had a one-week temporary job for a furniture rental store.  My duty was to ride along with the truck driver to pick up or deliver furniture.  I remember stopping at a large, new home and hauling out a living room set because the woman renting it could no longer make her payments.  When we were done, her living room was nearly empty.  I thought about her three little children who ran around the house as we moved the couch and the chairs out to the truck.  Though they were very little, I bet they wondered why all the furniture suddenly disappeared.  This is just a typical example that some unemployed families face.


Now, imagine you’re a debt collector or a utility service representative.  While it goes without saying, most all believe these employees are cold and heartless.  Although some may seem that way, they are human too.  After all, they’re only doing what they must to keep their jobs.  It isn’t easy to tell a customer that they must possess their car or shut off their lights because a payment wasn’t received in three months or so.


So, what do all these things have to do with recession suicides?  A lot!  Losing a job no doubt has a domino effect on one’s life.  Going months without being able to land another one forces a family to lose their once great standard of living.  This causes misery for everyone and depression for the unemployed.  In severe cases, some families become homeless.  A hopelessly jobless adult may feel that the only way out of his problems is to end his life.


About how many suicides are there?  Coming up with an accurate, up-to-date answer is difficult as figures change continuously.  According to a recent video by The Week   in Indiana, the suicide rate of unemployed victims is about 11%.  Recession-related homicides occur as well and are about 9%. These figures vary among city and state  About 6.6 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or longer.


Fortunately, there is help for those who’ve become distraught and feel that they’re at the end of their ropes.  Along with the 211 line, there is a toll free number: 1-800-273-TALK which is answered 24 hours a day.  Most all large cities have community centers and crisis lines that can be called day or night.  Some facilities are free while others charge according to one’s income.


Those Who Are the Center of Attention

Protester Harassment

Protester Harassment (Photo credit: Occupy Global)

Do you know anyone who has to be the center of attention wherever they go?  How do they behave?  Are they happy, spiteful, or egotistical?  Do they annoy you or stress you out after a while?   Are they unpleasant to be around?  This post touches down on those who need to seek constant approval to stay alive. <p></p>

As human beings, we have a constant need for social interaction and feedback.  We need to interact with others to give us a feeling of self-worth.  While some receive the recognition they need from coworkers and stable relationships, others go to great extents to get attention from anyone they can.

Those who feel they must be the center of attention are usually emotionally immature.  It is likely such people lack self-esteem and confidence.  Likewise, they are insecure and in order to offset their personal voids, they deliberately create situations that will draw attention their way.

It’s like, when you’re around them you may have trouble getting a word in edgewise.  Some talk, talk, and talk so much that it may drive others absolutely bonkers.  Some also speak loudly as if they can’t get their words out fast enough.

Although stealing the attention of others helps put out the fire of insecurity that burns within, the relief is only temporary.  Because the problem that lives within such people remains hidden, their self-esteem, confidence, self-love, and self-worth remain low.  Even those that tend to boast about themselves are doing so as an attempt to cover up for their inadequacies.

You’ll know when you have come across such a person just by observing their behavior.  This character may be a bully or harasser, especially if they try to deceive or manipulate you.  He will attempt to make you feel like he is your superior and if he doesn’t get his way, he may raise his voice or through temper tantrums.  Likewise, he will do anything to avoid exposing his true nature and taking responsibility for his own actions.

There are several types of attention-seeking people as characterized by what they do to be the centerpiece of any situation possible as follows:

  • The sufferer – This is the person that seems to become ill or prone to injuries quite often.  Their so-called illness or injury is portrayed to be more intense than it really is.  These people get attention by others by seeking sympathy and manipulating people emotionally, sometimes making them feel guilty because they don’t have the same illness the sufferer has.  In more severe cases, attention-seekers may have Munchausen Syndrome (a factitious disorder).  One such act may be a woman who expresses herself as a repeated rape victim.  Such a person seeks attention through her “oh woe is me” sobbing stories.
  • The savior – Here is the type of person that will intentionally cause harm to others, but once an adverse situation arises, they will act as one who will save the lives of their victims by posing as a knowledgeable source.  For example, one may engage in neighborhood vandalism done after dark and pose as a party to protect their victims from it happening to them again.  This form of behavior is often referred to as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
  • The rescuer – This person will take a role in troublesome situations only if they believe it will be beneficial for them.  She then will bask in the glory of taking credit for her considerate humanitarian actions.  Once she finds someone suffering from a misfortune, injury, illness, this person becomes vulnerable.  Meanwhile, the rescuer builds a dependent relationship between her and the rescued.  Such an act can be used to exploit the sufferer and gain more attention later on.  Instead of loving the person she is rescuing, she is resentful towards them.
  • The take-charge person – Although she attempts to make everyone think she is organizing things and is always in control, she is not.  All she wants to do is to become the center of attention.  Another similar role is the busy bee.  She loves telling everyone how busy she is doing stressful chores as a means of keeping things run smoothly.  Though she never has time to sit down or a moment to herself, she always has the time to tell others how much she has to do.
  • The manipulator – This person creates attention for herself by putting guilt on the shoulders of others, especially in family situations.  Though she may have no intent in harming those vulnerable to her exploitation, she may pretend she is being victimized, persecuted, excluded, or ignored in order to receive sympathy or help from others.
  • The feigner – When one is in trouble or being confronted for an adverse situation they caused, the person will break out in tears.  Even bullies and harassers may cry to convince others they are the victim of bullying or harassment.  By crying, these people get others to feel sorry for them and console them as they present a false sense of innocence.
  • The false confessor – Here is one that will confess to crimes they haven’t even committed as a means to get attention from the police and the media.  Some even confessed as being serial killers even though they lack significant evidence of harming others.  Such people are known as serial confessors to police.  Others may feel they were pressured into committing a crime through inappropriate interrogation tactics.
  • The victim – to make others believe she is the victim of harassment, she might send herself hate mail or even destroy her own belongings as a means of incriminating a coworker, a family member, classmate, etc.  She then tries to make it evident that someone else harassed her or harmed her in any other way.  In a devious and manipulative way, she will identify the villain.  At the same time she will bask in the attention of those who emphasize with her.

When we think of bullies, we tend to think of tough guys who are conditioned not to cry.  However, serial bullies are apt to feign for attention and act as if they’ve been victimized when this is not true.  For some, being a serial bully adversely affects their job.  Those who interact with clients or customers have been known to have a high turnover rate and low morale.  Employers often spend more money on correcting the consequences of the sufferers than they do their clients.  Those who attempt to relieve the victim from suffrage only become vehicles that generate attention for these serial bullies.

People That Talk to Themselves

Gossiping Is Annoying and Immature

People That Eat Too Fast

The Myths of a Compulsive Shopper

Recession-Related Suicides