Is Your Shopping Compulsion Just Repressed Anger?

Former debt addict Diane Conlinn writes about how she discovered here desire to go shopping was really an expression of emotions she wasn’t dealing with.

    “Until recently I rarely was angry. Or at least I thought I wasn’t ever angry. But the truth was, I had been bombarded with, it’s bad to be angry. It’s bad too want to lash out. Generally, I was angry because something I regarded as justifiably wrong had occurred either to my loved ones or to me. I had followed all the advice of just resolving to be happy, and didn’t deal with my frustrations. One of the things that I’ve discovered is that I funneled my anger away. I funneled it so far that I didn’t realize I was angry. So, now when I get a spending impulse, or eating impulse, I look inside to see if I’m angry. Because I have to find out what I’ve pushed aside. And instead of buying that outfit, I am going to actually allow myself to feel angry, and then, do something about why I am angry. I’m going to acknowledge it in some way by either telling the person I’m angry at or by writing about it.”

Anger: not socially acceptable.
Shopping: socially acceptable!
Writing: socially acceptable AND free.

Does Dianne’s previous method of coping describe anyone you know?

Curbing that Spending Impulse [Squeaks]


Edit Your Comment

  1. says:

    i love those episodes of intervention with shopoholics. they almost never work.

  2. banned says:

    If you want to blame your shopping woes on anger than go ahead but the reality = lack of self control. “I’m too stupid to deal with my problems on my own, so I will escape with shopping, drugs, or whatever else I like to blame shit on besides ME, because nothing is ever MY fault.”

  3. ribex says:

    I have a compulsion to tell you there’s no H in compulsion.

  4. pintucked says:

    I shop when I’m stressed and unhappy. I also shop when I need something (new work clothes, shoes, etc.). At the same time, not having the cash to shop freely creates more stress.

    I’m a shopaholic, but I like to think I’m a shopaholic with control. If I don’t have the cash, I mope and keep my credit card in the wallet. (Unless I absolutely need it today, like my only pair of work shoes are completely unwearable or something.)

  5. Steel_Pelican says:

    @rocnrule: You suck.

    She is accepting responsibility. She’s not blaming her impulses on the media, her childhood, patriarchy, corporations, or one of the myriad other scapegoats of modern life. And she’s going one step further, by finding the root of the problem and attempting to correct it.

    I’m curious how you define “self control” if the process of accepting responsibility, analyzing the behavior, then correcting the behavior doesn’t qualify as “self control.”

    And I’m curious, how do you deal with your problems? Since you seem to know more about it than the rest of us, we’d love to hear about your wisdom on the subject. Conlin used to deal with her problems by shopping, but now deals with them through writing. But she’s “stupid,” so this must be a terrible way to deal with your problems. Please enlighten us.

  6. Maulleigh says:

    I don’t know if I buy this reasoning. It’s like saying, “I gamble because I’m angry.” “I drink too much because I’m angry.”

    How about you’re just a shopaholic and get some help at Debtors Anonymous?

  7. factotum says:

    Please. Proofread, Ben.

  8. tracilyns says:

    a lot of people have negative behaviors to cope with emotions. some eat. some shop (when they don’t have the money). some take drugs. and there are lots of reasons to be a shopaholic. being angry could be a reason, as could the adrenaline rush from buying something new and shiny.

    for me, i really don’t care why they claim to be a shopaholic/alcoholic/drug addict, as long as they acknowledge that they are the only ones capable of changing their behavior to more healthy options. there are lots of tools available to help behavior change; but in the end, these tools themselves won’t change behavior, that person does.

  9. DamnGn00bs says:

    @rocnrule: I’m an alcoholic. I drink to escape my own reality. I know plenty of drug addicts. They fuck themselves up to escape their own reality.

    I know uber-religious people who use their religion to escape the reality that they feel overwhelmed with their famlies. I know workaholics who use work to escape their own selves. I know people who shop themselves stupid into debt to hide themselves from the world and make themselves look a lot glamorous than they feel. I know housewives who use pills to deal with their kids. I know…

    Hi! I’m responding to a guy who I personally see through life experience who uses personal empowerment to make him or herself think that he/she has absolute power over a situation, when that very own power only multiplies the problems in that persons life.

    We all have our vices. Feck off, we’re all human and have our ways of dealing with life. Those few who have overlooked their vices were true holy men/women.

  10. bbbici says:

    I used to like shopping. But because I bought really high quality stuff and I have a pretty minimal lifestyle, I don’t have anything left to buy until something wears out.

    The problem now is I don’t know what to do with myself or my spare money, and travelling seems pointless because I usually just went places to shop.

  11. formergr says:

    “But the truth was, I had been bombarded with, it’s bad to be angry. It’s bad too want to lash out.”

    I don’t even know what that first sentence means, the grammar is so whacked. What was she bombarded with? The truth? Her anger? And then improper use of too…gah. Her first stop after a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting should be Border’s to buy (ha!) a copy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

  12. @formergr: I think she was trying to say she was bombarded with the message that it is bad to get angry.

    @Maulleigh: What, she can’t have a reason for being a shopoholic?

    She sounds like a couple of people I know except they do something other than shopping. I know someone who cleans when they’re stressed. That sounds ok until your food vanishes halfway through dinner because they decided to clean your plate while you were in the bathroom.

  13. hollerhither says:

    Gee, haters, it’s easy to be judgmental when all your vices are so easily concealed online.
    Holier-than-thou commenters piss me off. Maybe I should do a little shopping. Anyway, kudos to people who take responsibility for their baggage and behavior…it’s a goal…

  14. I’m okay at being angry but I do tend to funnel boredom into vices. Shopping used to be a big one, but now I try to a) window/surf shop or b) go to the nursery. If I boredom-buy at the nursery I can spend a good two hours poking around and then I get all the fun of planting afterwards. And then I have more plants to take care of so hopefully less boredom.

  15. Dustbunny says:


    You could adopt me and let me spend your money : )

  16. Narockstar says:

    We always called it retail therapy. Your life can be in a really terrible place, but you don’t have to feel bad because you just found the cutest skirt!

  17. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Let he who has never done something stupid in a stressful moment cast the first stone.

  18. DTWD says:

    Hmm… I just sleep a lot if I’m mad/sad. It helps that I have two really soft/furry blankets. They’re so comfy. :3 Though I have a bad shopping compulsion with buying soft things. They’re so comfy. :3 :3

  19. juri squared says:

    I absolutely do this. If I’m depressed, I am much more likely to spend money recklessly. Fortunately, my husband and I have gotten rid of all our credit cards; now even if I have a moment of weakness, I can’t do too much damage.

  20. etinterrapax says:

    I’m recovering from this. It’s not so much anger as dissatisfaction that drives me–the irrational thought that my life would be okay if I could only buy just the right thing. Fortunately, I know it’s irrational, and also dangerous. Finding other things to do when I’m stressed, helps. I don’t know if I’ll ever derive true satisfaction from saving money, as I know some people do, but it’s the habit that counts, not how I feel about it.

  21. wittygal1 says:

    Hi, I am Diane C, and I wrote the article in question. I found that using the AA HALT method was helpful when I used spending or eating as my drug of choice. Am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I lonely? Am I tired? I ask myself these questions before I go out to buy anything and if any of the answers is yes, I take care of that before I do anything else. As far as my grammar, I do need to redo some passages. Often I don’t know why I do things, and in that case I use Debtor’s Anonymous tools. []
    Thanks folks.