3 Ways Step 10 Can Rescue Shopaholics

It's a hot ride - but will it make me feel loved?

Thought for today:

REMINDER: No matter what the commercials may claim, buying a new car during the holidays does not equal love.  It’s transportation.  It’s style.  It might be sleek, fun to drive, great on gas or maybe even an electric car, but it is not love and it never will be love.

Yet advertisers seem to always claim that things like that are love.  Jewelry, bags, clothing, perfumes – all are given an enchanted presence.  Santa Claus smiles from on high, and everybody lives happily ever after.

Using a credit card does not make us sexy, no matter what color it is.  It makes us indebted.  It makes us dependent.  Buying stuff does not win us love.  It costs us money – now or later.  And if it is beyond our means, it is hurting us.

We need to be vigilant, aware of the ways we respond to commercial enticements.  Especially during the holidays, we need to process the feelings triggered by ads, and do reality checks.

A member shares:

“When I look at TV commercials during the December holidays, I feel a warmth that reminds me of when I was a kid.  Families are happy, kids have everything they could dream of, and all is right with the world.

“Some of my childhood Christmases were abundant. When my family was flush with cash and their business was going well, and we had incredible gifts.  I couldn’t move through the living room because it was wall to wall gifts.

“After a bankruptcy, the gifts all stopped, except one board game.  For some kids, that might be a good Christmas, but for me, I felt deprived and depressed.  Going from having a lot to having so little was a shock.

“Today I look at those commercials and realize them for the fantasy they are.  It’s a nice story to imagine, but it isn’t real – except the ‘all is right with the world’ part.  My new world of solvency is good.

“Living within my means brings me self-esteem.  I no longer fear my creditors or dread that I won’t have enough money.  I have everything I need in life, as long as I work the DA program.  Taking my personal inventory is the perfect reality check for this compulsive shopper.”

DA Tool 9: Awareness

We maintain awareness of the danger of compulsive debt by taking note of bank, loan company, and credit card advertising and their effects on us. We also remain aware of our personal finances in order to avoid vagueness, which can lead to compulsive debting or spending.

DA Step 10:

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Three helpful ways to use Step 10

There are three types of personal inventories that can help compulsive spenders and shopaholics.  Each is useful at different times:

  1. The spot check inventory is useful when a creditor calls, or when an impulse to spend is strong.  When we see the commercial of the beautiful red car, we can acknowledge the feelings it brings up.  We can ask ourselves if we need a car, and if this is something we would like to own.  Is it something we want to add to our Spending Plan?  If so, we bring it up with our Pressure Relief Group.
  2. The daily (or nightly) inventory is when we more formally review our actions of the last 24 hours.  If we have reacted angrily when we saw an ad that made us feel deprived, when we can cool down later we can admit it to ourselves, and share our reaction with our sponsor, spouse, or other program people who know our situation well.  We can also use this inventory to help us plan the day ahead, and turn that negative energy into positive action.
  3. The periodic inventory is more thorough.  It helps to write a formal inventory, especially when we don’t have a good understanding of the nature of the problems we are having.  Why do we feel the way we are?  Why do people seem to trigger us with old feelings incessantly?  Taking a periodic inventory may mean writing a Fourth Step and sharing it, and processing an Action Plan for amends (to ourselves or to others).

In these ways, we take care of our emotional health.  Our “inner child” is speaking to us, and we need to process what it is saying to us.

We also make sure to include our positive qualities in any inventory.  We find people who can see us without judgment.  This makes us feel free to explore alternative behaviors that are healthful.

If we do it with intention and honesty, we will realize why we are taking and sharing our Tenth Step: We are actually seeking love where it really lives – with people who care – because love has to be freely given to be real.


Do I realize that I can’t buy love?

Meditation for today:

Humility is something to be sought after, like a precious metal. When we mine the mountain of our ego to find humility, we will find peace, which is more precious than gold.

Affirmation for today:

“I have everything I need in order to become the person I want to be.”

Recommended reading:

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Is seasonal depression a problem?

The Feel Bright Light Portable Light Therapy is a visor that shines 10,000 lumens of blue/green light clinically designed to improve brain chemistry.   Gazing into the light once a minute for twenty minutes helps restore serotonin to the brain to help mood disorders.  Especially helpful during the short winter days.  

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