The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft & Spending

         February 2008 e-Newsletter

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Terrence Daryl Shulman


So much has been happening in my life--in life in general--it feels at times like there's no cohesion, no roadmap, no underlying theme connecting all the parts. Can you relate? One tool I've used at least partially successfully--and it bears reminding here--is to stop and ask myself (or those I'm trying to help): What's the lesson? What's the message? Or, "Why have you called this situation/person into your life?" It's a way of helping shift from the victim, overwhelm and confusion mode into a more empowering, accepting, and clarity-filled stance. I may not always have the answers right away to those direct questions but usually some answers come--or at least it keeps me curious and in the question instead of defeated or in some overly complex "analysis paralysis." Usually, the lessons, the messages, the answers are quite simple and familiar. For I believe we have basic core patterns or issues that continue to come up for us to work on, to meet head-on and, eventually--if we're lucky--to master.

I'll give you a few recent examples from my own life. And believe me, I haven't got any of this mastered yet but I continue to find this "lesson/message/creation" approach fascinating. 

A first example relates to the issue of health.  As I enter my 19th year of recovery, at age 42, I remain in fairly good health. However, over the last few years I have experienced increased weight and elevated cholesterol. Last year I made progress in monitoring my diet, adopting a regular exercise program, and taking supplements; yet, by year's end, I'd lost only 5 pounds and my cholesterol increased 29 points. I felt a familiar anger and helplessness I have felt most of my life: "It isn't fair! No matter how hard I try, it's never good enough!" Ring a bell?

WHAT'S THE LESSON? Perhaps heredity is just catching up with me. Perhaps I have my limits. Perhaps I need to do even more than what I'm doing... or less? While I'm not in complete acceptance and surrender mode, I did agree to start taking Lipitor and will be checking back with my doctor for more tests in about 3 months. And believe me, I'm no big believer in the "magic pill" theory. Even if the Lipitor helps, I'm still going to monitor my diet and exercise regularly.

Then, I decided to take another approach. I looked up high cholesterol in a book I refer to often by Louise Hay called "You Can Heal Your Life." There is a new DVD out by the same name. Her theory is that every bodily disease or symptom has a corresponding emotional-spiritual aspect or correlation. Her take on cholesterol: "Clogging the channels of joy. Fear of accepting joy." Ouch! That's a familiar issue for me. Her affirmation/antidote for this reads as follows: "I choose to love life. My channels of joy are wide open. It is safe to receive." I have to admit, without beating myself up, that despite my having grown leaps and bounds in my recovery journey, just loving life, choosing life and receiving joy remain consistently elusive for me. Fears of accepting or receiving good things dominate my life. 

So, perhaps my high cholesterol is also a gift: an opportunity for me to work on my emotional and spirtual--as well as physical health--by accepting and receiving joy. Sounds fair to me. Am I happy about it? Not really---oops! There I go again. Darn! I mean, "silly me." After all, I have heard many stories about people with health challenges who have come to view their diseases as allies. Hey, I did that already with my disease of addiction!

Do you have a current or persistent health issue? If so, why might you have contributed to it's creation? What's the message or lesson?

On a similar note, I meet regularly with two men's groups--each consisting of several of my best buddies. One of my groups has a New Year's tradition where we each choose an "Angel Card" from a deck of "Angel Cards." The deck has roughly 50 cards, each with a different word on it. Last year I chose the card that read "Divine Guidance" which really was a good card for me given my tendency, okay, my hardcore pattern of "doing things all by myself" and not asking for help or, well, divine guidance. I can't say for sure how much progress I made on that one last year but, on and off, I worked on asking for help more and can see now that I made some small dents. My word for this year: "Enthusiasm." Wow, given the issue with my cholesterol and Louise Hay's invitation to "unclog the channels of joy" this resonated with me and further affirmed the importance of joyful living. 

So, wish me luck with my intention and my affirmation: "I feel enthusiastic toward life and accept and receive life's joyful blessings!"

Perhaps you'd like to choose an Angel card or an intention, too?!

I'd also like to mention the work of Byron Katie (see who has been presenting material for over 25 years on ways to better accept and love the way things are.

A second example in my life relates to business and money. I've long noted a pattern in my life of focusing on my fears around money and business "drying up" or focusing on not having enough. Sound familiar? Despite enjoying my work, feeling clear about my mission, and making a respectable living, I remember recently feeling a pattern of frustrated over a long-standing trend I've noticed: of the roughly 25 potential clients who contact me seeking help by letter, e-mail or phone on average each week (and I respond back to each of them)--only 1 will actually enroll my services. That's less than 5%!

Now, I realize that many kinds of businesses have the same issues. I also realize not not everyone is ready to take the next step toward changing their lives--many are just exploring help options. I also realize there's only so much I can do to create more business and help move potential clients "off the dime" to take the next step. Still, the old feelings arise: "It isn't fair! No matter how hard I try, how hard I work, it's never enough!" I'm really sensing a pattern here. And yet, I've had a wonderful month or two. I've had two clients travel--from Florida and Texas--each to counsel with me for 3 days here in the Detroit area--in the dead of winter!

WHAT'S THE LESSON? Be grateful and focus on what is working? I'm sure that's part of it.

WHAT'S THE MESSAGE? You can only work so hard; the rest you have to let happen? Probably.

WHY HAVE YOU CREATED THIS? Created what? The situation or the feeling? Well, from one perspective, the situation really isn't a problem. I'm making a decent living. It could be a constant celebration--even if there are ups and downs. The fact that 1 out of 25 people work with me may seem sad or frustrating at times could give way to a soft surrender and acceptance: "I work only with clients who are ready to work with me. I work only with clients who truly appreciate my services. I work only with clients I can truly help." And, as it's said in "The Secret" (the book, CD and DVD of the same name), the law of attraction works this way: like attracts like. So, if I continue to focus on my frustration and my longing for more work, all I attract are the circumstances which perpetuate my frustration and my longing for more work. I am contributing to creating my own reality.

So, wish me luck with my affirmation and intention: "I am abundant & prosperous in my meaningul work, in having great clients, in money & income, and in my creativity to help others."

And then, an interesting thing happened about 2 weeks ago. I came home and found a Federal Express envelope between my storm and front doors. It was a letter from a law firm representing a business I've known about for 10 years. This business does similar work with shoplifting. I had tried over the years to collaborate with this business on ways to help each other and the people we serve but to no avail. Now, this letter accused me of using unauthorized trademarks and copyrighted material on my websites and in my books which they claimed they had the rights to including statistics and the phrase "shoplifters anonymous." I was shocked and a bit rattled. I had responded to these claims from the company over 2 years ago by letter but this time they had a law firm send it. Again, my first reaction: "It's not fair. No matter how hard I try to be good, be open, be generous, I'm not appreciated, I'm not supported--I'm attacked!"

Then my anger turned to fear: what if they are successful in suing me and damaging my reputation and forcing me to relinquish my oldest website which I founded in 1999? 

WHAT'S THE LESSON? Is it to fight or to surrender? Well, maybe both. Fight in one sense--I called friends and lawyers to get advice; surrender, in another sense, knowing that there may always be forces which try to challenge one's integrity and mission. Heck, even Oprah gets some flames thrown her way now and then.

WHAT'S THE LESSON? Ask for help and support? Likely. Don't freak out--address the problem quickly and calmly? For sure.

WHY DID I CREATE THIS SITUATION? That's the one I'm having more trouble with.

In any event, I did my due diligence and spoke with three local trademark and copyright attorneys--each who assured me that I had sound legal principles working in my favor. I hired one of them to write a response letter and am waiting to hear back. I feel more calm and assured now and trust that everything will be all right.

Finally, there's a more public story which hit the news lately which is a shining example of one of my more memorable life lessons: "The cover-up is worse than the deed" or, put differently, "it's easier to tell the truth in the long run than it is to lie in the short run." Some of you are familiar with the Detroit story of our mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who is facing calls for his resignation over apparent lies discovered recently from past phone text messages. The lies were about an affair he had with his chief of staff and about the firing of two city employees who tried to blow the whistle on the affair and its related abuses of power. The mayor and his chief of staff both testified last year in a civil trial that they neither had an affair nor conspired to fire either of the city employees. It looks very much like both the mayor and his chief of staff lied under oath and cost the city millions of dollars to cover-up their lies--not to mention, each could be charged with felony perjury and obstruction of justice. Shades of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, not to mention many other high and lower profile cases.

What's the lesson? One would hope an adult learns that honesty and integrity are bedrock qualities for right living, let alone for good leadership. Is it power that corrupts--do leaders think they're above the law? Or is it personal sabotage? Greed? Indifference? Sex addiction? When I was a kid, sure, I probably lied when I confronted about that missing cookie or broken vase. But it's time to grow up! It's the secrets that keep us sick.

I recall a time back in 2002--which I shared when I appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show 2 years later. It was shortly after my wedding and I had a slip/relapse in my recovery from shoplifting addiction. I swiped a finial--or small screw-on top to a lamp. In any event, when my wife got home, she saw me screwing the new top on the lamp and asked me where I got it. In that moment I had a choice: I could tell the truth or lie. I knew I had already done something wrong. I was scared about how I would look and how my wife would feel. But somewhere inside of me--fortunately--I realized that to lie would make it ten times worse. So, I told the truth. Indeed, my wife was upset. The trust in our early marital bliss was broken. But, like a bone that breaks but heals properly, it can be stronger than before. We recovered and, in turn, my recovery deepened. I have done my best to keep honesty and integrity among my top core values. 

They say smart people learn from their mistakes and really smart people learn from the mistakes of others? Is compassion the lesson? Hopefully, Mr. Kilpatrick will find some sincere and transformational lesson for himself. To his credit, he apologized on TV. However, I can't help feel that his decision to stay on the job rather than resign is an all-too-familiar pattern these days--both in the public and private sectors. It seems to me more like damage control than true accountability. Leaders--while not expected to be perfect--should be willing to step down when they fail us miserably. That, to me, is a real sign of leadership.

What lessons do you see in this situation?

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2008 Conference on Compulsive Shopping and Shoplifting is in the works! Also, Mr. Shulman will be publishing a book on compulsive shopping and spending in early 2008. Stay tuned for more details...


January 1st--(Re-air) Mr. Shulman was a guest expert on Fox TV's The Mike and Juliet Morning Show discussing shoplifting addiction and the holidays which aired originally on November 30, 2007.

January 15th--(Re-air)  Mr. Shulman was a guest expert on the Women's Entertainment Channel's "Secret Lives of Women--Shoplifters" segment which aired originally on July 3, 2007.

January 29th--Mr. Shulman was a guest expert on Fox TV's The Mike and Juliet Morning Show discussing shoplifting and, in particular, a recent Florida bust of an 18-member professional shoplifting ring.

FEBRUARY and beyond...

February 4th: Mr. Shulman is starting a new metro-Detroit area chapter of C.A.S.A. (Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous) on Monday nights from 7-8pm at Renaissance Unity Church Room 315 in Warren, MI.

Prospective: Mr. Shulman to present a workshop in April or May at the National Association of Social Workers in Michigan's Annual Conference on the topic of compulsive shopping and spending and money dysfunctions.

Mr. Shulman continues to work with a British documentary producer on a show on shoplifting addiction and kleptomania.

Mr. Shulman is working with a producer of a documentary on American excess called "American Dream: The Movie"

Mr. Shulman will be featured in an upcoming book on recovery in the USA called "Recovery USA" by Benoit-Denizen Lewis.


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Contact The Shulman Center

Terrence Shulman
P.O. Box 250008
Franklin, Michigan 48025


Call (248) 358-8508 for free consulation!

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Products for Purchase--SALE!

Mr. Shulman's 75 Minute DVD Power Point Presentation on Employee Theft at Livonia, Michigan Financial Manager's Conference 10/19/06. $75.00

Mr. Shulman's 75 Minute DVD Power Point Presentation on Employee Theft at Louisville, Kentucky Business in Industry Conference 9/19/07. $75.00

Mr. Shulman's two books "Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction & Recovery" and "Biting The Hand That Feeds: The Employee Theft Epidemic... New Perspectives, New Solutions" are availabe for $25.00 each (includes shipping/handling) or both for $45.00 (includes shipping/handling).

Mr. Shulman's 90 minute DVD Power Point presentation for young people: "Theft and Dishonesty Awareness Program." $75.00

Mr. Shulman's 33 minute psycho-educational DVD: "The Disease of Something for Nothing: Shoplifting and Employee Theft." $50.00

First International Conference on Theft Addictions & Disorders 4 DVD set (13 Hours). Recorded 10/05. $125.00


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© 2007 The Shulman Center
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