“It’s because engaging in that behavior is psychologically painful,” says Wilcox. “So you say ‘What the hell’ to get rid of that pain.”
It troubles highly disciplined people most because they have a strong intolerance for imperfection, says Dr. Marty Lerner, executive director at Milestones and Recovery, a residential eating disorder program in Cooper City. And while maintaining high, hard-to-reach standards – assuming it’s your inclination and not your pathology — may be helpful in certain, detailed oriented occupations, there are occasions where even a mild tendency for perfection can backfire. For example, it’s important to be flexible in your expectations from children, co-workers, friends, spouses and even yourself.
“Some things in life have to stay negotiable,” Lerner says. “If your expectation is to be a perfect tennis player, you can’t enjoy the game.”
You won’t be able to buy a racquet either because high balances wreck your financial situation, says Karen Carlson, director of education at Orlando-based In Charge Debt Solutions. If you’re carrying one and continue to spend, keep in mind the interest rate means you’re likely paying double the sticker price for every item you buy. Even a $3 cup of coffee could wind up costing $9 once you tack on 14 percent interest for a few years. What’s more, the debt is tying you to your current employment situation, disabling your ability to start an emergency fund and take advantage of opportunities that may come along.
“You’re stealing from your future,” Carlson says. “And closing doors.”
If those financial facts don’t keep you from piling on that extra purchase, take note of your emotional outlook, suggests April Lane Benson, author of To Buy or Not To Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop. She suggests asking yourself a few questions before plunking down your credit card, such as: 1) Why am I here? 2) What if I wait? 3) How will I pay for it?
“That puts space between the impulse and the action,” she says. “And it’s a way of getting back in control.”
This is one of an occasional series of columns by Miamian Brett Graff, a former U.S. government economist who writes about how economic forces are affecting real people.