Take one (former) shopaholic. Give her a Ph.D. in psychology and ten years experience treating over-shopping. Publish her book about how to get free of the vast consumer conspiracy surrounding us, and you have Dr. April Lane Benson and her vital new book: To Buy or Not to Buy.
This is not a comfortable book for me to read. I find my behavior unmasked and as undeniable as my shoulder-length gray hair. Have I used shopping to feel better about myself? Yes. Have I used shopping to avoid confronting a situation I want to avoid? Yes. Have I used shopping as a weapon to express anger? Yes.
Sometimes to all of the above, and other questions in chapter one. Like a trip to the dentist, confronting my negative behavior and the psychology behind it can be painful, but also healing. I love this book, because there is healing in getting the rot out. Dr. Benson offers a way to find authentic happiness to replace the false esteem of keeping up with (or exceeding) the 'Joneses'. She points out the relentless consumerism driving our economy, with tentacles invading our conciousness through stores, malls, television, catalogs, Internet and even cell phone shopping. She uncovers the true cost of credit card purchases, and documents the ways invisible forces demand that we buy "more more more and now now now".
Knowledge is power. Self-knowledge is the power to change. To Buy or Not to Buy is a tool that can enable us to get free of our compulsive shopping. If you are confident that you don't have any shopping addictions, I challenge you to go to a bookstore and browse her book - consider the many ways we can fool ourselves into buying things to fill an emotional hole rather than a material need.
I recognized some of my buying patterns in her analysis, and also patterns of friends and relatives. Our materialistic society is even more insidious than I suspected. There is compassion and not condemnation in Dr. Benson's words. I recommend her book and I will be spending the next three months working through all the exercises. I have two pages of notes this morning, a start to the journal she recommends keeping.
There is no such thing as an insignificant cavity - as we all know, sooner or later it will destroy the tooth. I am going to be working on the occasional - but not insignificant - ways that I over-shop, and expect that the result will be good, even if the process is sometimes painful.
So what are ways that you over-shop? What are the things you buy to repair your mood, hold onto love, fit into society, feel in control - or *** ?