“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” ~Buddha
I have always been ambitious, hardworking, dedicated, and driven, but I have also made some serious mistakes in my life.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do early on in my career, so I pursued several options in college. By the time I was finished with graduate school I had five Master’s degrees, but still wasn’t sure which career path to take.
I decided to get a job in accounting since that career paid well. I didn’t like it, but I could see myself doing well if I worked hard at it. I became focused. I wanted to reach the top. My ambition was to become CFO of our firm. Life was good; my career was heading in the right direction.
I woke every morning and rushed to work, but as time went by I started becoming unhappy and frustrated.
I got promoted every six months, but the more I moved up the corporate ladder, the worse I felt. I had everything going for me but something was missing.
I started going to the mall to look around and occasionally bought myself a few pairs of shoes. Shoe shopping seemed to make me happy. It took my mind off the things that were bothering me.
Soon this became my daily routine. I would buy shoes during lunch, and before I knew it I had nowhere to store them in my apartment. I didn’t wear 99 percent of them, but they made me happier than anything else in my life at the time.
When I got back to the office many of my co-workers would make comments, so I started hiding my purchases. I had shoes in every drawer in my office.
I refused to look at my credit card statements each month. I did automatic payments and would pay more than the minimum, so I didn’t care to see it. I just didn’t want to know.
My landlord came to do some repairs at my apartment, and when he saw the shoes packed to the ceiling, he let out a gasp. “How many feet do you have?” he shouted. I was so dumbfounded I couldn’t speak. I felt violated and embarrassed, and I became defensive.
After he left I thought about what he said, but I felt so depressed that I went shopping for more shoes. Even though I was angry with him, I started feeling like I needed to do something about my shopping habit.
I didn’t believe anyone could be addicted to shopping. Addicts were people who drank, took drugs, and do those kinds of things. I was just buying a lot of shoes because they were all on sale. But the more shoes I bought, the guiltier I felt, and the worse I felt, the more shoes I needed to feel better.
Shortly thereafter I lost my job. The company moved overseas and my world fell apart. How was I going to afford to buy my shoes, and what about my career? I stayed home and cried for several days. I bought shoes, became depressed, and then bought more shoes to combat the depression.
I had no money and the bills were piling up. I didn’t even want to go out to find another job. I knew then I needed help. I got up one morning and decided I was going to do some soul searching and spring cleaning.
I took out the shoes I felt I couldn’t live without, and those I could live without with a little bit of arm-twisting, I put aside to donate. I called my landlord and asked him to help me pack up all the shoes to ship to the Good Will Store. I felt like a part of me had died.
I needed to find out the root cause of my problem, and I had to look myself in the mirror and admit that I was a shopping addict.
It took thirty thousand dollars in credit card debt and almost one thousand pairs of shoes to jolt me back to reality. I eventually paid off all my debts, and though I still buy a few pairs of shoes now and then, I know I will not go back to where I was.
Now, when I feel the urge to shop to deal with stress, I find less expensive, less addictive things to do instead.
I also took the time to find myself so my life wouldn’t feel so lacking. I realized that I wanted to help people, so I have been working with young women, and I am so much happier and fulfilled.
If you are struggling with an addiction of any kind, please seek professional help and do not hide away. Speak to those you love, trust, and respect. They will help you to find your way.
Here are a few other ideas that can help you when you are struggling:
1. The problem is a symptom of something else.
When you find yourself doing things you normally wouldn’t do, there is likely an underlying problem that you need to deal with. You must be prepared to acknowledge and deal with this underlying issue in order to get your life back on track.
2. You are never alone.
It doesn’t matter what the situation is. You must remember that there are many others out there who have been through what you are currently facing.
3. You can overcome.
Remind yourself that we all have challenges, and if you don’t give up you can overcome them and be a better, stronger person as a result.
4. People genuinely care about you.
Sometimes people will appear to be judgmental, but most are genuinely concerned about you and want to see you do well. Having those you love and trust around will help you heal faster.
5. You are good enough.
When you’re struggling, it’s easy to believe that you are not worthy. Your self-esteem and confidence will be tested more than any other time in your life. You need to believe in yourself and know that this struggle does not define you.
6. You are going to make mistakes.
No one is perfect, and that includes you. You will continue to make mistakes, but you are not your mistakes. Focus on the lesson and how you can apply this wisdom going forward.
7. No time is ever the perfect time.
You will not be able to make changes in your life if you do not make time. You have to make it the right time by taking the first step.
8. It never helps to shift blame.
It always seems to make us feel better if we blame others for our problems. Unfortunately, it is up to you and me to make our lives the way we want them to be. Your life is yours to live, and you are responsible for your happiness and success.
9. You must believe you can.
Once you have decided that you can, there are no forces in this world that can stop you. Every one of us has it within us to be happy, but few of us realize that it is up to us to make it happen.
10. You are stronger than you think.
We can never know our true strength until we allow ourselves to be tested. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Think about where you are now and some of the things you have overcome. It took lot of strength for you to get where you are.
We all have obstacles in our lives and we’ll have them as long as we live. Do not allow addiction, illness, disappointment, mistakes, or failures to prevent you from living your best life.
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