How Mindfulness Saved Me From Compulsive Shopping
After years of compulsive shopping, my solution didn’t cost me a cent – mindfulness.
Have you seen the movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic”?
It’s a film about a typical girl who is obsessed with buying things, finds her Prince Charming and quits the bad habit of spending every cent on her credit cards.
As glamorous as the movies make it seem, I can tell you that being addicted to shopping is no way a fun experience. I would lie awake in the middle of the night, itching to buy that lipstick that I’d never use. I saw my stomach growling after three days of fasting so I could save enough for a new dress. I didn’t have a life purpose, aside from spending my paycheck as soon as I received it.
Years and years of exhausting my health, my savings and my time.
I finally realized that my obsessive behaviors were the symptoms of my severe depression. Looking for a way out, I acquainted myself with meditation and mindfulness. Now being happier than ever, I recommend this health advice to everyone.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be simply defined as the bare attention to the flow of sense-perceptions, emotions and thoughts in each given moment, while attempting to give no judgment, achieve no goal other than being in the present, each and every moment.
A person who is mindful is both the participant and the observer, they observe the outside world, as well as their reactions to that world.
- Expand awareness
- Improve self-monitoring
- Allow one to feel affection
- Enhance self-regulation
- Facilitate the sense of embodiment
- Enable acceptance of discomfort and tolerance of pain.
- Help to de-contextualize the automatic thoughts that may contribute to anxiety or other mental disorders
Mindfulness is the skill began from the meditative practices of Buddhism. Modern science has found out that mindfulness is helpful in relieving chronic pain, anxiety and depression.
It has also been found valuable in improving life quality for people suffering from cancer, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and other disorders causing self-experiencing problems. These include dissociation disorders, personality disorders and affective disorders. Mindfulness can also help recovery from phobias by giving a sense of control and self-acceptance in situations where sufferers are exposed to the source of their fear, eventually developing a sense of mastery over their fear.
Outside a medical context, mindfulness is found capable of increasing a positive tone of mind, reducing stress in professional environments and promoting changes in brain functions. All in all, it promotes mental health.
How mindfulness helped my compulsive shopping
By practicing mindfulness, I cultivate a sense of stillness inside. This stillness inside offers calm and peace, and it can be accessed under any circumstances. It makes a fort, a hiding place, an internal resource for me.
This means that when I feel roiled and tormented, I can pause, breathe and get in this internal safe harbor.
I tell myself I have no need for any assistance from outside, no need for any purchases, self-harming actions or reckless choices. I can ride out the compulsive shopping impulses by a technique called ‘urge surfing’.
This ability is a much-needed skill for people who have lived by impulses all their life (and have to deal with the bad things that impulsive behavior can bring). Being sure that one can be calm and responsive to any situation develops a sense of self-control and self-competence.
Must I join a specialized course to learn mindfulness?
No, mindfulness can be done through many meditative practices, the most popular of which are:
- Formal sitting meditation, with attention focused on the experience of breathing, the ever-changing state of mind or bodily sensations
- Walking, with attention to the sensations in the feet
- Stretching or moving, with attention to the sensations your body feels
- Doing routine activities like eating, cooking, showering, dressing or conversing while still maintaining mindfulness by focusing on sensations in the present moment.
Any of these methods can help a person experience their life, their body, senses, fantasies and consciousness to a greater depth. By this experience, you learn what you are attached to, and can therefore choose to break free from that attachment.
By practicing mindfulness, you may be able to know the contents of consciousness that have been previously ignored. Meditation can also help build tolerance for unpleasant mental states, that have been the triggers for impulses, dissociation or self-harming actions.
As well as the self-help techniques above, there are also guided meditations available online. These can help you ease into meditation more easily. Ambiance music with nature sounds, used as a background to meditation also help greatly with stabilizing your mind.
Stay socially active with meditation
Originally, mindfulness was a tool used by Buddhists to liberate themselves from existential sufferings, including the world of family, life, work or friends.
Nevertheless, mindfulness meditation is still a process that encourages embodiment, as well as enriched self-experiences. Therefore, mindfulness for health is being used in many modern aspects of psychotherapy, to improve :
- closer personal relationships
- more strength in ego functions
- greater sexual pleasure
- work efficiency
Did you know about mindfulness? Are you suffering from compulsive shopping addiction? Let’s discuss in the comments below!