"Shopperholic" - Befriending our coping behaviours

How do we get self-connected when a part of us "feels out of control"?

A young friend of mine recently admitted to 'uncontrollable' spending. She said "she knew she had a problem" and that "at least she could recognise it right?"

I nodded back to her with acknowledgment. "Oh yes" I said "you have to be able to see the behaviour before you can do anything about it".

"Is the behaviour having impacts you don't want on your finances?'' I asked. "Oh absolutely" she said. "I want to save to go overseas with a couple of friends at the end of this year, before I'm 30, while I'm still single. I just seem to get crazy when I go shopping and can't stop."

"Does that happen especially when you're needing a bit of comfort or self-care?" I continued to inquire, "Does it seem to help you feel better the more you buy?" She nodded.

I asked her if there was similar spending habits in her family. She said that both parents had the issue as well, especially her Dad. I asked if her shopping-without-stopping reminded her of her Dad's behaviour. She agreed and said it made sense she was copying from seeing her Dad do the same thing.

Then I asked her if there was a part of her that got angry at herself... even a bit violent and punishing of herself after the spending spree was over? She nodded.

I offered gently. "Maybe this violent voice that's punishing and demanding you fix the behaviour, is trying to look after your savings? That would make sense."

"Do you think you might shop harder to avoid listening to that violent voice that's attempting to control you?"

She said "Oh that's true, I hate that voice... I feel so guilty I didn't listen, but it's so cruel and mean I don't care if it's right I just ignore it."

I recommended that the next time she was shopping, that she could notice the violent voice and remember it's care for her, even if it sounded mean.

She understood that her violent voice was like an 'inner parent' attempting to guide her with her spending boundaries... that she didn't have to hate it so much or avoid it, to look for the intentions behind the mean words.

With a bit more support she also realised that her 'shopperholic voice' was wanting to comfort her - a 'rebellious' reaction to her own self-punishment.

She could see both voices were loving her, and that both were arguing in her head with different strategies.

Inner-friendship and wellbeing begins with this noticing of the way we speak with ourselves, the "voices" that guide us from different aspects of our childhood experience.

Self-criticism, guilt and punishment are often an attempt to motivate ourselves to do better and yet it can undermine our confidence and embed a life time of "not good enough" stories.

As a communication specialist, I support purpose-driven friends to prioritise inner-friendship and wellbeing to move beyond their inherited "not good enough" patterns and stand rooted in their self-care practices, so they can rise as empowered guides for these times.

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