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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Packing Tips: How to manage packing anxiety


Recently, the process of  "packing" has been a topic of discussion. The process of packing brings up issues for people who struggle with image and compulsive spending is directly related to image. Not that many people would readily admit that "packing" for a trip or a getaway is troubling, but for many, it seems to be. I thought this was interesting and considered as I am about to pack myself, what do I wear? what is the weather going to be like? do I have the right outfits? and, will what I bring fit?

These questions, like several thoughts we have, go unnoticed, unacknowledged and incorporated into behavior, sometimes maladaptive behavior. For instance, my friend has just enough money to take her trip and that is it, but as she considers her "packing" list, she finds herself wondering into Nordstrom to buy new jeans and the drugstore for a few travel size amenities. This is where her image issues affect her wanting and driving her to overspend with justification. Feeling the anxiety of not having the right jeans for her road trip, or having to live without her favorite hair product, is just too overwhelming to feel and relieving the anxiety requires buying something to solve the conflict which truly only exists in the mind of my friend.

Resolving conflicts on this level is very tricky because, for example, my friend, let's call her Tara, would have to realize that there is a conflict at all. Tara most likely realizes that she feels unprepared and troubled by her packing process and that she needs to rectify the situation. She does not sense there is a conflict between her anxiety around her image and her not having enough money to buy something to relieve the anxiety around her image. Tara would best suffice, financially and psychologically, if she just feels the feelings of anxiety around her packing issues and restrains from taking any action, such as buying new jeans, to get rid of the feelings. Most likely, Tara will realize that she can handle her anxiety, that she will survive it and test out new coping skills, which in this case is feeling her feelings, and develop the start of a foundation of security in her self.

Regarding her image, Tara's deeper issue is more related to her sense of self and how she perceives her self. A lot of what she may be projecting onto her packing list and feeling in the process will be more understood if she does not act out and buy new things to resolve her conflict. By buying new things in these kinds of instances, Tara thinks this is the solution where in fact, it is not, it is only a short term remedy. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I have been suffering with "packing issues" for quite a few years now and can never seem to pack for anything in advance, it's always last minute and I am known for this within my family who makes fun of me. However, my packing issues cause me a lot of anxiety and I couldn't understand why. I am leaving for a huge 3.5 month trip in two days, will be renting out my house and have BARELY done any packing to move out! I have never considered that this all may have to do with my poor self-image and my lack of funds to rectify it. What an incredible insight. This has actually given me enough peace of mind to be able to sleep tonight. I do realize what was preventing me from packing up until now is that I need the perfect pair of jeans, the perfect shoes, the best makeup, etc. I can't pack until I get these things because I might as well pack everything all together, ha. Anyway, thanks for this!

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