Season of Change
has certainly been a year of change for many of us on many levels.
Change can feel particularly jarring when it seems to arrive not of
our own conscious choices. Change can be frightening when we have to
change our beliefs as well as our actual modes of operating. We
need new paradigms for meeting change--individually and
collectively--if we are to evolve. We may have to change our ways of
"doing business as usual"--in our actual businesses as
well as in our relationships, managing our health, and in other
dimensions of our lives.
a tendency toward complacency and settling back into old routines,
whether this is the case with addiction relapses or old ways of
thinking. Even the word "fall" as in "autumn"
conjures not only the image of falling leaves but, perhaps, of
allowing ourselves to fall, or surrender, in order to rise, move
forward, and grow.
as we enter the fall season--the season of change--we may either be
resisting change or hoping and praying for change. Or maybe a little
of both. As summer fades and we naturally begin to turn inward with
the fading temperatures, we might as well embrace or allow ourselves
to "fall forward" into transformation. After all, life is
calling us forward not backward.
Donald Walsch's (the "Conversations with God" author)
released a book several years ago entitled "When Everything
Changes, Change Everything." In that book,
Walsch talked about how change can feel threatening to our very
notions of safety and security. However, change is also inevitable
("the only thing that is certain is change"). Change
is how we grow. The only question is whether we evolve or
regress. Sometimes it seems we need to regress before we evolve.
Walsch defines change this way: "Change is the shifting of any
circumstance, situation, or condition, physical or non-physical, in
such a way that the original is rendered not merely different from
what it was, but altered so radically as to make it utterly
unrecognizable and impossible to return to anything resembling its former
Does this resonate with you? Real change, thus, can feel like
death: death of our former selves.
So, in what ways do you feel change beckoning you? Health? Finances?
Employment? Relationships? Moving? New projects or goals? Remember:
we can resist or welcome change; nothing stagnant grows.
Budget and Debt Ceiling Battle
of this writing, the U.S. Congress is at a stalemate: the government
may shut down, the debt ceiling limit may not be raised, and a new
budget may not be passed. This likely will have severe consequences
on many Americans as well as the global economy. Regardless of your
politics, let's hope our economy doesn't take a hit. While, in
theory, one doesn't want to spend money unnecessarily when in debt,
we do have to pay the debts we accumulated, and sometimes we have to
invest money in making more money.
often come to me in debt and want counseling yet say "I can't
afford it, I'm in debt." Well, rarely is there something for
nothing and many of these same clients continue to spend while
seeking help. This is one definition of insanity. Let's hope our
Congress moves past the gridlock and insanity of partisanship to
keep our country's economy and the world economy moving forward.
States Passing Tougher Shoplifting Laws
and prosecutors in Michigan have a new took in their collective tool
bag to help them punish shoplifters. It's no small problem in this
country. The National Retail Federation figures retailers lose
upwards of $34 billion each year to retail theft or what's called
"shrink." More than half of that is caused by
sticky-fingered shoppers or dishonest employees, and the NRF figures
that costs you up to $500 each year.
shoplifters in Michigan face the prospect of prison time and fines. Shoplifting
has been moved up from a misdemeanor to a felony called
"Organized retail crime" punishable by up to five years in
prison or a fine of $5,000, or both.
we expect this new law to slow down shoplifters? And what about
Michigan's already-overcrowded prisons?
commentary: While I don't have much sympathy
for "professional shoplifters or thieves," I worry that
this law may not have the impact it hopes to--regardless of my
understanding why they enacted it and that this trend appears to be
seeping the nation. One concern I have is that many
"low-end/non-professional" shoplifters who may be stealing
certain items to sell to pay for essentials will be lumped in with
the "big boy" ring members. Such an example is noted in
the audio-story along with the link below. Another concern, as
expressed in the audio-story, is that the cost of incarcerating
people for longer periods of time will be borne by the taxpayers and
may not even ultimately deter most of those punished except to take
them out of society for longer periods of time. I don't have the
answer but I don't think longer sentences will reduce or deter many
Men Can Be Shopaholics, Too--Anywhere!
by Evsn Otashi, Hong Kong News
are many ways for Hongkongers to cope with the stresses of the city
- and escape from it. We are blessed with an abundance of beautiful,
scenic nature where a myriad of activities are available that don't
involve phones, computers or impeccably tailored suits. We can hike
away the tension, barbeque the ill will or, if just a day isn't
enough time away from the city, camp out overnight and continue
getting in touch with Hong Kong's incredible natural surroundings.
Not to mention our little island lies smack dab in the South China
Sea, offering us sweet relief from the heat and humidity.
course, this being Hong Kong, it has conveniently included no
shortage of choices when it comes to spending your hard-earnt money
as a way to relax - in the city - as well. While the idea of spare
time in and of itself is quite a luxury here, between the hot
weather and abundance of malls, the idea of spending an afternoon in
an air conditioned mecca of consumerism often doesn't sound like too
bad of a proposition to overworked Hongkongers. In fact, it would
appear that retail therapy is the most popular and in-demand
therapist in Hong Kong.
then, do males in particular alleviate the strains of working and
living in Hong Kong? Despite the known pitfalls of resorting to
extended bouts of retail therapy, can it actually help in a
high-stress environment like Hong Kong? Is it really so wrong to
want to reward oneself for their hard work?
Shulman is the founder of The Shulman Centre for Compulsive Theft,
Spending and Hoarding and author of the book Bought Out and $pent!
Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and $pending. He says: "While
there is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself or others by buying
things with your hard- earnt money, the question is: when is it too
much? It is the same with drinking or eating, gambling, dating, sex
and so on - when does it negatively affect your budget, your time,
your relationships, your other hobbies and interests, your
obligations, your self-esteem?"
too much of a good, enjoyable recreational activity can prove to be
hazardous, what's a more stable way to go about this?
says: "A more balanced approach for most would be to put aside
a good portion of one's income for savings or retirement and to
invest in a decent home, car, food or medical insurance. If we
over-identify with things to reward ourselves, or to mark our hard
work or success, this is dangerous for our overall self- esteem which
ought to be made up of many things."
also believes dangerous scenarios can arise from a lack of
inhibition regarding spending. He asks: "What if one loses
one's job and income or maxes out one's credit cards - then what
happens to one's sense of self? It plummets and could even lead to
suicidal thoughts or criminal behaviours like stealing to continue
to get stuff."
what are some of the things men like to buy most when shopping then?
lists: "Electronics, hardware, books, CDs, DVDs, collectibles,
clothing, golf gear, hobby stuff and in more extreme cases, cars,
fancy vacations, entertainment and the like."
does male retail therapy affect single men differently from those in
believes it's possible. He says: "It may, single men may be
more into clothing - to attract a mate - and also may be more into
buying things for others to gain affection and
attention." Although, as Shulman notes: "More and more
younger people are doing most of their shopping online instead of in
stores, so this is true for a lot of singles both male and
single guys, retail therapy can be an especially sharp double-sided
sword. Fierce competition isn't just confined to the business
landscape in Hong Kong; it can also extend to relationships. In a
city seemingly brimming with wildly successful people, it's rather
easy to feel insecure and attempt to overcompensate in other
ways. Studies have shown that single men and women that shop to
cure loneliness only make things worse for themselves. Shopping,
although enjoyable at the time, is only a temporary fix. It's merely
a band- aid on a large wound, the happiness is short-lived and
before you know it you're even more miserable than before. It was
found to be the same results for those who shop to ease their
it is believed that those who shop to relieve stress eventually
shift to eating to relieve stress and finally may find themselves
becoming stress exercisers (is the latter really such a bad
thing?). Some might not only purchase items to feel better
about themselves, but also with the hopes of attracting a potential
love interest. Thinking in this way can lead to the whole exercise
becoming counterproductive since you are no longer even shopping for
yourself, but rather with your dream girl on your mind.
believes this phenomenon is certainly plausible. He says:
"Single men may be into image shopping more - buying things to
impress others more."
Shulman also adds another interesting factor into the equation.
"Many single men are younger - not always, though, as some are
divorced - so their income may be either less, because they are
newer to the workforce, or more, because they don't have the bills
that come with a family or house mortgage."
it's not just when looking for love that men can feel down on their
luck in Hong Kong and seek retail therapy. The city is covered in
billboards and advertisements suggesting expensive ways to spend
your hard-earnt money. The streets are filled with cars many of us
could only dream of ever driving. Not to mention the doomed hope of
ever owning property in this crowded town.
do men prefer to buy expensive items - budget permitting - or
cheaper items? Does the price even really matter when it comes to
believes it depends and varies based on the situation. He says:
"There are some people who are image or trophy shoppers - or
collectors - who spend a lot. And then there are bargain shoppers
who tend to spend a lot over time but a little each time. There are
also men - and women - who shop more for others than themselves,
often in order to buy love and appreciation."
stereotypical image associated with shopping used to be either a
group of women with bags on each arm or couples in which the man is
carrying multiple bags while his significant other browses shop
after shop. These days, chances are you will still see
girlfriends shopping together and couples too - though maybe sharing
the burden of holding purchases since men are much more apt to
purchase things. However, one thing you really don't see too often
is a group of guys shopping together.
it a male stigma, insecurities, or just a plain disdain for shopping
in public, but men, despite our growing interest in buying stuff,
seem to prefer a more private setting when making purchases. Not to
mention being able to avoid crowded malls and overzealous
salespeople constantly hovering over your shoulder.
are there other reasons men seek comfort and relief through
shopping? Are they similar or different from women's reasons?
says: "In essence, men and women are more similar than we
think. Men and women shop out of loneliness, to impress or convey
status, or to lift themselves out of depression."
one interesting difference between male and female shopping habits
Shulman has observed is: "Men more often tend to collect things
like CDs, DVDs, books, electronics, comics, and engage in
project-like shopping where they can build things. Women do tend to
shop more for clothing, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics, things for the
home and things for others." Thus, the advent of online
shopping has been quite the godsend for many a man. Although unable
to try on something or see how a gadget feels in their hands, the
privacy felt behind a computer screen has helped give rise to the
phenomenon of male retail therapy.
Shulman warns, women are getting caught up in the online shopping
craze as well. He says: "Due to the onset of internet shopping,
both men and women are getting hooked at an alarming rate. Men may
seek to shop more due to stress relief whereas women may shop more
to fill a void that is left by unsatisfying relationships."
as lucky as you may be to have a girlfriend, part of what comes with
the territory may include sitting for extended periods in a store's
uncomfortable leather chair while a loved one painstakingly scours
feels many or most men prefer online shopping, but not all. He adds:
"I'd say slightly more men have an online shopping problem than
women, although that's changing too."
while retail therapy is supposed to help ease the burdens life
brings our way, and one might assume that since we now have such an
easily accessible remedy for stress that our relationships would
flourish because of this, unfortunately, this is not the case. Over
a course of time, research has found that relationships have
suffered as a result of increased shopping, particularly when it
comes to expensive purchases, something difficult to avoid in a
luxury- loving city like Hong Kong.
believes that issues in a relationship from retail therapy don't
always, but frequently do come up when they are purchasing expensive
items that stretch the couple's budget. He says: "It's
more the amount of time and the obsession or the space the shopping
takes up. It takes away from relationships rather than adds to them.
Also, there is often lying, hiding and deceitfulness for the
shopping addict and that dishonesty impacts relationships
would be one thing if a person were merely purchasing something
compact such as comic books. But, if their favourite
stress-relieving purchase involved cars, what with the lack of space
in the city and eye- gouging prices for extra parking spaces, this
could certainly put a damper on the relationship.
to the massive influx of tourists visiting Hong Kong, parts of the
city such as Central - already one of the nicer areas in the city
due to it being the business district - have been further
transformed into centres of luxury shopping.
all have our vices and particular ways to relieve the stress life
throws at us. Despite the housing difficulties plaguing Hong Kong,
one thing there is no shortage of is ways to spend our
money. Indeed, this can be a very slippery slope, as Shulman notes.
He warns: "Shopping and spending can be highly addictive and
become a hard pattern to break."
the pitfalls of using retail therapy as a form of stress relief have
been well-documented, shopping has seemingly been ingrained into our
inner consciences in Hong Kong. Due to the advent of shopping
becoming one of the city's primary draws when it comes to attracting
tourist dollars, residents of Hong Kong have gotten caught up in the
residual effects from the transition.
are, without a doubt, a bevy of recreational activities for
Hongkongers to relax and have fun with; however, shopping remains an
immensely popular pastime for people. By being offered such a wide
range of consumer-based options, it also offers people a way to
justify the hard work and long hours they put in by being able to
treat them to some nice gifts and, in effect, display their success
through head-turning cars and gaudy fashion.
simmering tensions reverberating through the city due to a variety
of factors, the last thing the government probably wants to do is
upset the status quo further by discouraging shopping and flooding
the television with more tiresome public service announcements.
Despite researchers finding a correlation between shopping causing
further discontent, the fact is Hong Kong is a unique situation.
some may well shop for these reasons, others may do it because it is
seen as an example of status. The truth is, everything in Hong Kong
costs money, at the very least one should have autonomy over how
they spend it.
is its own reward.--Anonymous
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