Appearing as regular as the adverts, the inevitable and annual chorus of moans “Christmas! It gets earlier every year!” is something we all recognise. So, why do we say and do the same things each year, especially if it ramps up our stress and anxiety levels?
Despite the recent years of austerity, for those of us lucky enough to know the difference, marketing budgets appear unfazed with ever-more innovative and expensive campaigns beginning as early as late October. How influenced are you by the adverts you see and are you aware of these influences?
In our attempts to remain part of something, we may subconsciously suffer and feel the pressures associated with the Christmas frenzy and the marketers skills at helping us to believe that we don’t have enough and WE NEED MORE, AND SOON!
Might we already have everything we ‘need’?
Do we ever stop to ask whether we have enough? I think we can resist the call of ‘buying for Xmas’ and the inferred urgency, initially, but the sense of ‘need’ eventually seems to become overpowering!
Sheep and Following the Herd
The very idea of maintaining our core values becomes challenged when ‘everyone else is buying’. Then we have the marketers telling us, “Buy before they sell out or the price increases”. It’s a clever ploy that instils not only a sense of urgency but an emotional feeling of anxiety. We see it in the few days leading up to Christmas with ‘panic-buying’.
Guess what? It starts immediately again after Xmas too! The abject fear of missing out on or acting on our initiative when the masses are acting differently.
They can’t all be wrong, can they?
To act independently and trust in our wellbeing appears to be a dying art. The news shares on a 24/7 loop how the tills are ringing (making us feel we’ll miss out), or the opposite and retailers are slashing prices (again, we might miss out).
Buy NOW! (Before the next sale starts – tomorrow!)
If we are to expose ourselves to the marketing and news machine 24/7, we WILL BE INFLUENCED by the messages being shoved in our ears and placed in front of our eyes. What we consistently see and hear breeds a perception that feels like reality!
Challenge the Messages
We are all independent of each other with a need to belong to the ‘tribe’. It is mostly this that drives much behaviour.
Debt, loneliness – or overwhelm! The anxiety begins almost as early as the marketing hysteria. “How are we going to find more cash to buy that expected of us?”, or “Another year watching everyone else ‘living it up’.” and my old favourite, “All those people coming here again!”
One of my favourite writers from the world of therapy, therapist, Steve Hauptman, shares his similar views in a more succinct way, in Myth.
Has Christmas, in reality, become more about comparisons than compassion? Parents feeling they cannot let ‘everyone else’ buy the latest 2-minute craze and our child doesn’t. The desire to buy new furniture for the day so as to receive less adverse judgement!
Is there a better way?
Buying what we truly appreciate for those we dearly love, appears reasonable. Being with those who make our hearts swell full of love, seems nice. Looking out for those less fortunate, fills us with gratitude and perhaps helps us realise we have all we need.
Change the Channel
Ask yourselves if last Christmas and those before gave you peace and pleasure that would last well into the new year? If it didn’t, why repeat? Our natural human condition is to move toward pleasure and away from pain, yet, each year we succumb to the marketers skills, spending money we can’t afford for items we don’t need.
Meanwhile, the newscasters share their negative propaganda and we invite people we would rather not see into our homes, or go to theirs.
Walk, talk and listen. Give and receive graciously and be with integrity and compassion. We CAN do THAT now; there is no sell-by date! Reach out and connect. (That costs nothing.)