Beliefnet
The Celebrity Therapist

 “Shopaholic” is a funny, made-up word for what can be a very
serious addiction to shopping–I mean shopping for things you don’t need and
spending money you don’t have. Like other addictions, it’s an artificial way to
make yourself feel good and avoid coping with the things that make you feel
bad. It’s not just about buying another pair of cute shoes–it’s spending that
has gotten so out of control that you’re experiencing negative consequences in
your life.

            The shopping
addiction tends to be worse around the holidays, because shopaholics who feel
some guilt about buying a lot of things for themselves can get around that by
shopping for others. But it’s important to remember that people don’t actually
enjoy being overwhelmed by large numbers of gifts. A single thoughtful present
is always appreciated, but an avalanche of stuff just creates clutter for the
recipient.

            So how do you
get through the holiday shopping without overdoing it? The most important step
is to make a shopping list. Write down the names of all the people you plan to
buy a holiday gift for. Then spend several days thinking about the one thing
each person would really like. Consider all the things you know about that
person and select a gift for them. Write it down next to their name.

            Then write down
about how much you plan to spend on the gift. When you’re done, add up all the
costs and make sure it’s an amount you can afford–today. Not next week or next month when you get your next paycheck,
or when you think the credit card bills will come. If your total is more than
you an afford right now, revise your
list.

            This is your
holiday shopping list, and it’s all you
are going to buy.

            If you love to shop simply to enjoy the holiday spirit in the
stores, spread out your shopping over several weekends. Just buy a few things
on each shopping trip. As you buy each item on your list, cross it off.  Take the gift home and wrap it yourself, so
you can really enjoy the process and think about how happy the recipient will
be to get this one gift.

            If you’re
really worried you won’t be able to stick to your list, take someone with you
whoever you go shopping. Tell them what you plan to buy that day, and promise
you’ll go for coffee or hot chocolate as soon as you’ve found all the items
you’re looking for.

             Then enjoy your day out with your friend, the
decorations and music in the stores, the bustle of the crowds, and the
satisfaction of crossing each item off your list. You don’t need anything more.

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