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There is a movie called “Confessions of a Shopaholic”, The heroine in the play is heavily in debt due to shopping spree. We use the word “crazy” to describe their shopping behavior, and the appellation of “shopping addiction” seems to more vividly convey their behavior and mental state. Professionally, this is called “compulsive shopping” and is classified as “impulse control disorder” in relevant diagnosis.
Shopping Addiction: Self-Test
Not all continuous consumption patterns and shopping behaviors can be attributed to shopping addiction. The following items can help us to test and count how many descriptions match to see if we are suffering from shopping addiction:
1. Do you feel extremely excited at the thought of going shopping?
2. When you are in a bad mood, sad and agitated, will you relieve your mood through shopping spree?
3. Do unconscious and uncontrollable shopping impulses often occur?
4. Is there anything beyond your ability to pay among the things you often buy?
5. Will you buy things you don’t need without thinking?
6. Did you spend more time and money in the shopping process than your own plan?
7. Do you have the habit of trying to stop yourself from shopping too much?
8. Is your mood how’s after shopping spree? Are there any feelings of shame, regret and pain?
9. Will your shopping behavior significantly affect your social relations, career and marriage?
10. Will impulse shopping lead to financial problems (such as debt) and even legal problems (such as failure to pay credit card bills)?
If you have already met more than 5 of the above points, it can be said that unhealthy shopping behaviors have seriously affected your life.
Shopping Addiction: The Pursuit of Happiness
In retrospect, When we buy something we love, The greatest feeling is satisfaction, When the body and mind are satisfied, Happiness comes. In fact, The feeling of happiness is very important to life. It can keep living things focused on what they need for survival. Food, water, sex, and even social intercourse can all bring happiness. We human beings spend most of our energy on the pursuit of happiness, which is also a great driving force for us to live. Happiness is a natural reward for all living things, including us human beings.
As a complex experience, happiness includes many feelings including expectation, need, emotion and satisfaction. Therefore, to emerge this warm and beautiful feeling requires the participation of multiple brain regions.
In order to determine which brain regions will make us happy, researchers implanted electrodes into the brain of rats through animal experiments. When electrodes stimulate ventral tegmental region, nucleus accumbens, cingulate cortex, thalamus and other regions, rats will actively seek brain stimulation and even are not interested in food and drinking water until they are exhausted.
By stimulating regions that can cause excitement and enhance specific behaviors in rats, researchers found that different sites are connected to each other through a common pathway, which is the pathway that produces happiness. At the same time, reinforcement behavior also increases the release of dopamine in the brain.
Human happiness also occurs in this small bundle of neurons in the brain. Like the animals tested, the happiness pathway in the brain can also be activated by artificial stimuli such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine. Gambling, video games, sexual impulses and shopping also activate the happiness pathway in the brain.
Shopping Addiction: The Way to Overcome
(1) Rational diversion of attention, ignoring shopping impulse
Primitive brains force us to meet our needs quickly, while rational brains force us to pursue higher goals and long-term benefits. When we feel uncomfortable or are eager for something, the benefits we can achieve in the near future will dominate our feelings and behaviors at that time. This is our natural motivation to pursue timely enjoyment.
The way to get rid of the habit of having fun in time is by diverting attention, learning to manage the natural motivation of the mind to pursue [happiness], ignoring this impulse, but not trying to make it disappear. Shifting attention from the senses to the reason can make it easier for us to resist temptation.
(2) Learn to relieve negative emotions by oneself instead of relying on shopping to relieve them.
Psychological pressure, low self-esteem and bad interpersonal relationships, the resulting negative emotions are closely related to addictive behaviors.
These negative emotional effects, It forces individuals to get emotional relief through stimuli (such as shopping sprees). When we put what we buy into our pockets, our value also seems to increase. By buying things, we can indeed improve our self-evaluation and help us repair negative emotions. However, watching our wallets become thinner and thinner, the feeling of sadness seems to come back.
Therefore, when we are in a bad mood, shopping sprees may temporarily relieve our depression. However, we should also keep an eye on it. If the economic situation becomes a burden as a result, I’m afraid we will have to experience another emotional trough.
(3) Reshaping behavior habits through self-suggestion and improving self-control
Our primitive needs and negative emotions will both lead to a decline in self-control, In the brain, the executive center of control is the prefrontal cortex, which gives us the ability to suppress impulses. Usually, when we are under great pressure, our basic self-control ability will be affected, making us more emotional, impulsive and even more radical than shopping sprees.
By reshaping behaviors and habits, we can improve our self-control. The formation of habits needs to go through three stages: forming a new behavior, forming habits and solidifying habits.
Changing habits is not easy, but if we stick to it every day, the brain will form a [behavior module] of good habits.
Hint, it plays a very important role in this. If you want to run in the morning every day, put running shoes in a conspicuous position. If you want to quit the habit of eating high-fat foods, you should not see them often in your daily life.
Happy shopping, happy happiness
Aristotle once said that happiness includes two key elements: joy, pleasure and spiritual abundance. We hope that with the passage of time, through in-depth understanding of how the brain and behavior work, we can help people unify happiness and will, so that our daily life can be satisfied.