The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft & Spending

         November 2008 e-Newsletter

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Fall 2008 Conference on Compulsive Theft & Spending took place Saturday September 27, 2008 in Detroit! If you missed it, it's available on DVD for $100 (includes S/H)!
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"Staying Sane During Trying Times:
What We Can Control and What We Can't"


Terrence Daryl Shulman


"Who listens to the hymn of the brook when the tempest speaks?" --Kahlil Gibran

So, how are you doing right now? There's a lot happening in the world, isn't there? World banks and stock markets have been going through convulsions over the last month. The U.S. is on the verge of an historic presidential election. And the start of the holiday season is just around the corner.

How do you stay sane during trying times? Now is the time to get serious and shore up our foundations as the winds of change are upon us. Tragically, many don't pause (let alone stop) to make the time and the energy to meet life's challenges in the most urgent, healthy, and effective manners. Just the opposite. Many of us stay in denial, keep doing what we're doing--or not doing--or, worse, fall into patterns and behaviors that will only make matters worse. Thus, a vicious cycle ensues.

Addictions, in particular, tend to increase during the fall and winter seasons. The holidays are a common trigger. Add world turmoil (elections, financial distress, and looming fears of war and terrorism) and we have a combustible combination.

What addictions and other negative behaviors have you noticed have begun to increase recently? Alcohol consumption? Drug taking? Eating? Shopping? Stealing? Gambling? TV watching? Working? Sex? Nicotine? Caffeine? If you've noticed more than one of these, you're in the majority.

So, what are we going to do? Get therapy? Join a self-help group? Ask for support from family/friends? Read books on the subjects? These are just a few good places to start. But how incredible it is that so many are reluctant to do what it takes to be well. It's as if we lose hope and faith in ourselves, others, life. It's as if a part of us doesn't even want to be well.

A first good step is to come to some awareness that a lot of our upset and stress is around issues, events, circumstances, and people we cannot control.

Take the stock market. First, to varying degrees, we're all in this together. We can't control what is happening now or what may happen tomorrow. All we can do is try to calm ourselves and, perhaps, consult others about what we should do or not do right now. Perhaps there are some lessons to learn for the future: perhaps our thinking about the stock market being the best way to increase our wealth needs tempering. Perhaps we need to invest in a more balanced portfolio--bonds, CDs, other stocks like gold, or just having some money set aside somewhere safe. Perhaps we need to watch our spending, adjust our budget, realign our values, downsize our lifestyle, create new employment. Job security is nowhere near where it used to be in our country. Any one of these changes may take time to implement but they are things we have some control over.

Take the presidential elections. We may not like how the campaigns are going--the negative attacks and spin in the media. We can't control this. We might actually like the drama and enjoy yelling at the TV. But be careful not to get caught up in this. We may worry about election fraud or our candidate losing or the future of our country. We can't control this. But we each have one vote. We each can work to assist our candidate win. We can each engage in activities to see the world be how we'd like it to be--or as Ghandi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world." But even in a worst case scenario, if the world appears to be in chaos, we still have the capacity to claim peace in our own lives. Nobody's saying it's easy, but it is our task. Once, I heard someone say that an advanced meditator can meditate next to a jackhammer and be undisturbed. Speaking of meditation, I am leaving for a 10 day silent meditation retreat the day after the election. This is one of the ways in which I am attempting self-care after a very busy year and in the midst of very intense times.

Take the holidays. What makes them so stressful? Family gatherings and obligations? Pressure to buy gifts and spend money that you don't even have? The constant bombardment of consumer urgings in the media? We may not be able to control what's coming at us from the outside. But we do have a say so over setting limits and boundaries and making our own best choices to make the holidays successful this year.

Every year I try to remind myself about the wonderful essence of each holiday. Holidays can get collapsed into stressful times when it becomes solely about shopping/spending, overeating, family challenges, obligations, and painful memories from holidays past. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Halloween gives me the chance to dress up, wear a mask, be a kid again, enjoy the creativity of others. My brother and my 7 year old nephew are going on a local "zombie walk." We did this before and was amazed at how fun it was. We dressed up as zombies and walked around town with others similarly dressed up and acted like and sounded like zombies. You should have seen the stares of the passersby! And I was surprised how liberating it felt to let go of my own identity and thoughts while in character.

Thanksgiving is truly a time to practice gratitude even if we're going through challenging times when we feel anything but grateful for our lives. As hard as it may be, Thanksgiving is a holiday that beckons us to focus on the positive. If we're out of a job, if finances are rough, if we're in ill health, if we feel unsupported by others, we still have something to be grateful for. Life could always be worse. Again, there's a lot of circumstances we can't control but, hopefully, we can orchestrate a decent Thanksgiving holiday: some decent food, a few kind folks to share time with, maybe a nice fire or a good movie, some decent, uplifting conversation. It would be nice to actually go around the table and hear a few words from each person about what he or she is grateful for. And if you're going through a tough time and need to express this, perhaps there is gratitude that others can just listen or, perhaps, hear a call for support and offer some. There's also the powerful practice of doing volunteer work around Thanksgiving and the holidays as it helps put things in perspective: there is always someone suffering more than you are.

Christmas, Hannukah and New Years are holidays that can lead to excesses in spending, drinking, eating and just overdoing in general. But, actually, these holidays in their simplest forms are excellent invitations to open up to the themes of rebirth, renewal and miracles. The holidays are really about connection and enjoying friends and family and community. If there are certain people we find difficult to be around, again, we can set limits and boundaries and also our "family of choice" or enlarge or concept of family. Support group meetings and community events are a great way to feel belonging and connection.

During these tough financial times, it's interesting to consider "The Secret" (The Law of Attraction) and the so-called "prosperity gospel." Many people feel helpless and hopeless and actually blame themselves for their own poverty, difficult circumstances, and "bad luck." My own best suggestion is that we find balance in analyzing why things happen or why they don't. It can be cruel to imply that others are purely the victims of their own small thinking when their stocks tank, they get laid-off from their jobs, or illness strikes. Likewise, it can be demoralizing to feel that God is punishing us for not being faithful enough or withholding success until we are. It's one thing to emphasize the importance of a positive attitude and proactive steps toward abundance.

Again, I think it comes down to a balanced recognition of what we can control and what we can't. We can do our best to maintain a positive, hopeful attitude about our lives which, typically, precedes any positive, hopeful actions we might take. Sometimes, however, we just fake our actions until our attitude catches up. If we find we can neither muster the attitudes or the actions needed, then we must consider asking others for help, guidance, support, and assistance.

So, how do you stay sane during trying times? You know there have been ways and means that have worked in the past--use them. If, for some reason, they no longer work the way they used to, find new ways and means. Sanity is a state of mind not a place outside ourselves. When the jackhammers are in high gear, remember: find your own best ways to steer clear of fear.

New Diagnostic Tool 

In the wake of continued interest and research into compulsive shopping and spending--especially since publication of Stanford University's landmark study in 2006--a new streamlined test has arrived that attempts to grade levels of "impulsive and compulsive shopping." The simplified 6 item scale is listed below:


Obsessive-compulsive buying

1. "My closet has unopened shopping bags in it."

2. "Others might consider me a 'shopaholic.'"

3. "Much of my life centers around buying things."

NOTE.—All items were measured on a 7-point Likert scale, anchored at 1 (strongly disagree,) and 7 (strongly agree)

Impulsive buying

4. "I buy things I don't need."

5. "I buy things I did not plan to buy."

6. "I consider myself an impulse purchaser."

Note.--All items were measured on a 7-point Likert scale, measured on a 7-point scale, anchored at 1 (never) and 7 (very often)

NOTE: A score of 25 or higher indicates a subject may have a disorder




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Fall 2008 Conference on Compulsive Theft & Spending took place Saturday September 27, 2008 in Detroit! If you missed it, it's available on 6 hours of DVD for $100 (includes S/H)!  To order, click on our website to order or contact us directly at  248-358-8508 .

NOTE: Mr. Shulman is now providing expert counseling service via Skype telephone &  videoconferencing!


October 6th--Compulsive shopping and spending was featured on Fox TV's The Morning Show Mike and Juliet.

Mr. Shulman continued to assist Pangolin Pictures on a documentary about compulsive shopping.

Mr. Shulman continued to assist with CNN on a story about how the faltering economy has led to more people shoplifting out of basic need and necessity.

Mr. Shulman continued to assist with a German-based television segment on addictions--including compulsive theft and spending.

Mr. Shulman continued to assist with an Australia-based television segment on addictions--including compulsive theft and spending. 

October 16th--Mr. Shulman and his work were profiled in an article in The Detroit Legal News.

October 20th--Mr. Shulman and his work were profiled in an article in The University of Michigan Alumni Magazine.

Mr. Shulman was interviewed for an article on compulsive shopping and spending in Elle--Canada magazine--article to be published at a later date.

Mr. Shulman was interviewed for an article on compulsive shopping and spending in Glamour magazine--article to be published at a later date.


Mr. Shulman will be featured on the MSNBC series "Theft in America" in early 2009.

Mr. Shulman will be submitting a chapter on employee theft in a 2009 compilation book entitled "Risky Business."

Mr. Shulman is working with Women's Entertainment TV's "Secret Lives of Women" series on a compulsive shopping and spending segment.

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

Mr. Shulman will be featured in a 2009 book on recovery in the USA called "America Anonymous" by Benoit-Denizen Lewis.

Mr. Shulman is working with A & E TV's "Intervention" show on a shoplifting addiction segment.


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Contact The Shulman Center

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


Call  (2... 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