Are you a shopaholic?

Hands up, any of you who have lured friends to see the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic. Yeah, me too. Not like it was made for the Oscars, but for a feel-good chick-flick it was not too shabby.

The comedic heroine Rebecca Bloomwood in Sophie Kinsella's runaway bestseller is so lovable that you almost forget about the fact that she is thousands of dollars in credit card debt, jeopardizing her relationships with mounting lies, and in adamant denial of her shopping addiction.

Actress Isla Fisher does a splendid job portraying the plights of a shopaholic and embodying some classic shopping addiction behaviours, such as:

  • spending a significant amount of time shopping and spending
  • having an excuse for each shopping excursion and every purchase item
  • feeling on top of the world after a purchase only to sink into guilt and shame when the high wears off
  • being unable to stop shopping even though it is hurting loved ones

Sound familiar?

Rebecca's obsession with a green scarf is especially noteworthy. She sees it grazing the neck of a mannequin on her way to a job interview and talks herself into believing that the scarf will give her just the right edge to land the job she desperately needs to pay off her debts. And since the scarf is completely out of her budget, she splits the purchase between several credit cards to cover the cost, determined to be its new owner by going deeper into debt.

Of course, like a good comedy, the movie farcically exaggerates situations for some good laughs, but if Rebecca's shopping behaviours are resonating with you, it may be time to think about whether you may have a shopping addiction or be on your way to developing a shopping problem.

In addition to the types of behaviour mentioned above, some warning signs of shopping addiction include:

  • not being able to limit purchases to specific items but having the compulsion to buy more
  • owning a closet-full of never-worn items with the price tags still intact
  • shopping whenever you need a pick-me-up or when you're down, angry, or afraid
  • keeping purchases and shopping a secret from your parents or your spouse
  • spending more and more time thinking about shopping and acting on it
  • going into debt because of shopping and not being able to stop despite wanting to curtail spending
  • having shopkeepers ask that you no longer shop at their stores

While all this may be good movie material, it's much less fanfare for the everyday sufferer of a shopping addiction and a lot more anxiety, guilt, and distress. At the end of the day, people with a shopping addiction are not any happier after an excursion than they were before.

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