Q: Why would a person risk getting arrested for shoplifting or embezzling money just to have "things"?
A: Some people unconsciously escalate in the hope of getting caught so they can get help. Others live lives that are filled with so much pain and dysfunction that they are oblivious to the consequences. When the urge takes over it is as if they are in a trance. They have to feed the hungry place inside, although "things" can never really fill that emptiness.
Q: How does brain chemistry influence compulsive spending?
A: Craving begins in the brain when stress creates an imbalance between two important brain chemicals, dopamine and serotonin. When dopamine is stimulated it helps us get into action, to achieve our goals. Once we have done that, the serotonin rises and gives us a feeling of satisfaction. Then we move on to something else. But when compulsive spenders are very stressed, either physically or emotionally, the serotonin can’t always rise enough to offset the drive of the dopamine. It keeps firing, “I gotta have it.” That is what happens in a spending binge. A woman may like a certain sweater and then buy it in every color it comes in before she stops!
Q: What is EFT and can it help compulsive spenders and debtors?
A: EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a new, fast acting, often permanent, treatment for life problems. It is best described as acupressure for the emotions. EFT helps people release negative feelings and cravings by treating the energy meridians in the body. You only need to stimulate eight energy points, mostly on the face, by tapping or touching them The stimulation goes to the brain and releases stress, calms emotions, and helps the thinking part of the brain say, “No” to cravings.
Q: Is there anything a friend or spouse can do to help?
A: The most important advice I have for friends or family is what not to do. Don’t threaten, punish, cover up for, or try to bribe the spender into changing. It simply won’t work. If you cut up their credit cards they already know the number by heart! Some shopaholics have credit cards that you don’t even know exist. Compulsive spenders are like alcoholics. They spend when they are upset. They will lie and cheat in order to be free to spend. The best thing you can do is to understand that they are not bad or stupid people. They are people who are in a lot of emotional pain. Encourage them to find help for their problems by working with a psychotherapist who specializes in treating compulsive behaviors or joining Debtors Anonymous.
Read my book, Born To Spend and find a program for change using EFT. Be sure to pick up a copy of my FREE book Creating Happiness that also includes instructions about how to do EFT tapping. Receive a free 15 minute consult with Gloria at www.GloriaArenson.com.