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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Black Friday Advertisements Already!

What's a compulsive shopper to do in times like these? There is so much pressure to buy, save, prepare, shop ahead, relieve stress, it is unrealistic to rely on the outside world for any sense of containment over compulsive spending. Of course, I had already been encouraging you to rely on your inner self but if your inner self is still fragile, receiving e mails targeting your weakest link can be very challenging, to say the least. However, it really is an opportunity to develop a foundation of safety for yourself by resisting certain compulsive and impulsive acts. Even if you have to suffer anxiety and feel the wanting in the meantime, you create a stability that you need in order to continue on a path free of debt and compulsive spending that gives you HOPE! The stability, in case you are wondering, comes from feeling the feelings that surface when you do not allow yourself to shop, spend, and indulge. Feelings are meant to be felt, that's it. There is nothing to "do" in the face of feelings other than to feel them through. I know this may feel like torture for some of you, like a third degree burn victim, your emotional skin is thin. But, in trying to heal your burn, skin needs to grow and your foundation of feeling needs to grow and it grows through experiences.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Are You A Compulsive Shopper?

Check out this interview with associated content and post your responses here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Know~ing Your Worth - A Course in Personal and Financial Abundance

Know~ing Your Worth - A Course in Personal and Financial Abundance

An online course to help women find abundance both financially and emotionally. Perhaps it could offer motivation, structure and hopefulness to many who are feeling lost and out of control with regards to their personal and financial lives. There really is no separation between personal and financial lives since our life is singular. Finding some balance, meaning and insight can most likely be helpful across the board, however you may choose to do it. Reading blogs, attending workshops, seeking therapy are all ways to learn and grow and finding the way for you, personally, is part of the journey!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Repetition of Compulsive Shopping

The repetitious quality of compulsive shopping is part of the addictive process. By doing something, like shopping, over and over again with the hope of a different result is in large part why someone would repeatedly shop (till you drop) or develop credit card debt, not just once, but several times. The repetition that is involved in compulsions needs to be understood and dealt with in order to overcome a compulsion and resolve the need to re-engage in the behavioral process. It can be compared to dieting. For instance, if dieting were effective in helping someone overcome compulsive eating then the dieting industry would be out of business. Dieting only curbs the behavioral addiction to eating temporarily by focusing on the "food" rather than the "eating process". The same would be true for a budget for a compulsive spender. Incorporating a budget to get out of debt will only curb the spending temporarily by focusing on "money" rather than the "spending of money". Without looking at and trying to understand the process of compulsive spending the repetitious quality of the shopping will once again grab hold and provide the emotional glue that holds the person together. It is imperative to incorporate both behavioral change, such as a budget, as well as understanding the behavioral and emotional process of compulsions to achieve and sustain long term change.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shopping for a Sense of Self

Compulsive Spending is being taken more seriously as a true problem especially since the economy has taken a turn for the worse and people are looking more honestly at how they budget, rationalize, and manage money. One, of many, purposes of over spending that seems to surface is that shopping behavior leads to a sense of self. For those who have this connection breaking with compulsive shopping is going to be a hurdle because the purpose that the shopping serves links directly to identity. To abandon a behavioral process that is so meaningful psychologically can be devastating and troubling to a person especially if it's meaning is not acquired. Helping people who have attached identity with shopping involves incorporating the process of weaning in therapy. Being realistic about what is possible and likely and creating promising and doable time lines helps a person feel understood and acknowledged. Developing a weaning process is specialized and specific to that person. It is like weaning a baby from a bottle and there will be pain and frustration in tolerating the new freedom and estrangement from the source of "food". As a therapist, holding the emotional reactions for the patient is essential in helping him or her go through the process while it also teaches the patient how to manage and hold their own feelings for the future. A bridge is built. This may be harder to do with out the assistance of a therapist, but it can give hope and understanding to the deeper underpinnings of compulsive shopping and why breaking with it can be so difficult. Most importantly, it will not leave the person stripped of their identity but rather help them continue to develop where the shopping interrupted their sense of self.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What is Your Tipping Point? When retail therapy becomes a compulsion

If you are reading this blog you may have before now asked yourself, "When does my 'retail therapy' become a real, serious concern?" Meaning, do I need help with controlling my urges to splurge? This question was posed to me in a recent interview with Stephanie Berenbaum of the website Fabulous & Frugal. I thought it was an excellent question because it draws the line as to when a person needs professional assistance beyond helpful information offered in magazines, talk shows and valuable websites geared to provide "guidance" as opposed to psychological help.

My answer was not black or white, but, of course, grey. The tipping point for one person is not the same as the tipping point for another and the process of a professional assessment can help differentiate what the tipping point for a specific person is and what a treatment plan in helping someone would look like.

However, this blog is for you, right now, to begin, perhaps, in asking yourself, where am I at? Do I compulsively shop in terms of my own values, limitations, standards and variables? Here are some questions, also offered on my website, www.angelawurtzelmft.com, that you can ask yourself today, in this very moment.

  • A=Almost Always
  • O=Once in Awhile
  • I=Infrequently
  • N=Not at all

  • Do you buy things you want even if you know at that moment you do not have the money to pay for it?
  • Is it difficult for you to save money?
  • When you have some “extra” cash that you could save, instead, you think of other things you would like to buy?
  • Do you cheer yourself up or give yourself a reward by “going shopping”?
  • Does more than a third of your income go to pay credit card bills (not including rent or mortgage payments)?
  • Have you had to move credit lines because you typically don’t have the money to pay off your credit line?
  • Do you pay the minimum balance on your credit card most of the time?
  • Are you inclined to keep buying more of your favorite things- clothes, makeup, cd’s, books, computer software, electronic gadgets – even though you do not have a specific need for them?
  • When and if you have to say “NO” to yourself, or control yourself from buying something you really want, do you feel intensely deprived, angry or upset?
If you have four or more A’s and O’s you have overspending tendencies. If you answered A or O to the last question, you are most likely someone who may grapple with compulsive shopping. That question seems to be the most potent indicator of a serious problem.

So, now that you have taken this small, yet meaningful, quiz, where do you think you stand in relationship to your spending trends and ideals? How would you determine your tipping point and what would you base it on?

Please, write your responses and we will start a dialogue!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jenny Kirk on Figure Skating's Eating Disorder Epidemic (Part II)

After watching the National Ice Skating Championships this past weekend I googled Sasha Cohen Ice Skater Eating Disorder? this morning and your articles on the Huffington Post came up. I was impressed reading your interview with Jenny Kirk.



I took one look at Sasha Cohen on my HD screen and thought this woman is going to drop dead of a heart attack on the ice. As a 25 year old her body appeared basically the same as the 14 year-old US competitor which was alarming to me. I felt particularly saddened by Sasha’s performance because she had stated that she wanted it so badly. I speculate that if she is struggling with any kind of food restriction this could very well have contributed to her tiredness and inability to perform her routine. She seemed despondent during the scoring and yawning during the other performances. I am not trying to diagnose her but her demeanor seemed troubling and after reading your article and interview with Jenny Kirk, eating disorders amongst high-level athletes is so very serious of an issue and I hope that interventions, right or wrong, are made even when the skater or athlete is resistant. There will always be resistance in the make up of an eating disorder, but that should not determine or ward off the care, concern and devotion of people who could be helpful.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Compulsive Shopping... Becoming more of a reality

A lot of times people say to me, " Your idea and theory behind compulsive shopping resonates with me but I really didn't think it was a real thing, but the more I think about it the more it seems true and real."

Last December I was interviewed by {X}Press Magazine, the San Francisco State University campus magazine, for an article on compulsive shopping. Check it out...