Addiction to Spending

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“I keep getting into more and more debt, but I can’t seem to stop. I do great for a while, and then I just have to go shopping and buy stuff. This is going to ruin my life if I don’t stop, but how do I stop?”

Mary Beth is addicted to spending. What does this mean and how can she stop?

Mary Beth’s compulsive spending does not come out of nowhere. It is rooted in her fear of feel feelings that she believes she cannot handle. In her mind, it is easier to handle the anxiety of debt than to feel the deeper feelings – the painful feelings of life – that she believes she has to avoid.

Here is what happened that triggered Mary Beth’s last spending spree.

“I went home for Christmas and it was awful. I guess it’s always been awful, but this time seemed even worse. There was nothing I could do right in my mother’s eyes, and my father was, as usual, completely emotionally absent. At one point my mother screamed at me that I am hopeless. I thought I managed it all at the time, trying to not take it personally as she treats others this way too, but when I got home I went on the spending spree. I thought I did a really great job of not reacting to her and taking care of myself, so I don’t understand the spending.”

Mary Beth is missing a major aspect of taking loving care of oneself in the face of another’s unloving behavior. She is bypassing the core feelings of loneliness and heartbreak she feels when her mother yells at her and criticizes her.

Since Mary Beth’s mother has always been like this, Mary Beth had to learn as a child to not feel the deep pain of her mother’s unloving behavior. As a small child, she could not feel that much loneliness and heartbreak and survive. So she learned various ways of not feeling these feelings. She learned to disconnect from her body and stay in her head. She learned to turn to sugar to self-sooth. The problem is that these protections created an inner emptiness, so as she got older and started to earn her own money, she learned that buying things temporarily filled the emptiness that she was creating by her self-abandonment.

Now it was habitual. She automatically disconnected from herself when anyone was in any way unloving to her with their anger, blame, criticism, or withdrawal. It was no longer just about her mother – it happened all the time at work and with her boyfriend. Each time someone was in any way uncaring with her, she would shut down, go for the sugar, and then go out and buy stuff. While she felt better for the moment, she found that she was feeling more and more empty and needing more and more sugar, junk food, and things to fill her up.

Now, as an adult, Mary Beth needed to learn to feel and manage the loneliness, heartache, and heartbreak she felt when others were uncaring.

“Mary Beth,” I said to her in our phone session, “please imagine being back with your mother at Christmas. Remember her anger and criticism. Imagine that you go into anther room so that you are not near her. Now put your hands on your heart, acknowledging the loneliness and heartbreak that we all naturally feel when others are unloving and uncaring. Breathe into your heart, being very kind, tender, gentle and compassionate with these painful feelings. Give yourself the love that you wished someone would have given you as a child when your mother was being mean to you. Stay with these feelings with deep caring and understanding toward yourself until they start to move through you.”

I gave her a few minutes to move through these feelings.

“How are you feeling now?”

“Wow! I feel so much lighter!

“Are you willing to practice this every time someone is uncaring to you and see how this affects your spending?”

Mary Beth reported that, each time she remembered to do this for herself, she had no desire to shop and spend. Her addiction surfaced only when she forgot to lovingly attend to her feelings.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover addiction-free joy? Learn Inner Bonding now! Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding Course, and visit our website at for more articles and help. Phone Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of numerous best-selling books, including: Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook Healing Your Aloneness The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook Inner Bonding Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids? Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years. Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages. After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, who had half the Inner Bonding® process, and Margaret had the other half! They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years. Margaret works with individuals and couples throughout the world – on the phone, in workshops and 5-Day Intensives, and with members of Inner Bonding Village at She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Dr. Margaret has just completed a 12 year project call SelfQuest®, which is a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program. SelfQuest® is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to individuals, families, and businesses. You can read about SelfQuest® and see a short video of it at In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride and play with her horses, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

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