Noticing the Puppet Strings that Drive Your Decisions

Puppet strings

Burning moneyMarketing pushes during the holiday seasons amplify already stressed and pressed thoughts regarding family, friends, finances and life.

Keen advertisers play on fear–because it sells. 

“If you don’t buy this toothpaste, you will have bad breath and no one will love you. Not to mention that your teeth will be nasty and yellow …” the TV advertisement blares.  To whom is this ad focused? On those who are single and afraid they will remain that way and to those who desire to advance in the workplace. Notice who the target audience is and how each advertisement, for the same product, is tweaked so that it triggers those fear emotions.

FearfulTo add manipulative insult to injury, notice a few more things during the holiday seasons, or when any particular holiday event is being focused on through the year in TV commercials.  The Christmas holiday is the most exaggerated and manipulative holiday of them all.  Focusing on the emotions of the masses, advertisers pump out old and new sentimental movies and sitcoms that carry thinly veiled messages of fear. 

Fear of loneliness. Fear of dying. Fear of loss. Fear of being unloved. Fear of not being accepted and rejection. Fear of …

Fear sells.

It occurs to me that even though there is a raging discussion regarding whether or not to call Christmas a Christian Holiday, or a Winter Solstice or some other holiday seasonal name to honor other groups of people, I am of the opinion that Christmas isn’t at all reflective of a new Savior born.

Christmas, as we know it through the past few hundred years … is not even a Christian holiday but a blend of many other holidays* from people groups who didn’t have Christ in mind at all.

Is this blog post to create controversy over the Christmas holiday? Actually, it’s to generate a conversation over noticing how ANY holiday affects YOU.

As this past Christmas holiday came and went, were you filled with excitement, peace, joy and the holiday cheer that is advertised by toy manufacturers and jewelry stores? Or did you notice your neck and shoulders tensing up as the holiday drew closer and the stress of planning around family and gift giving increase?

During one of the highest purchasing evenings of this past Christmas, I and my son went to dinner and noticed a very intense atmosphere of impatience, anger, irritation and panic as shoppers and people leaving the malls, leaned on their horns and cut people off in traffic to dive into the next shopping mall for the next bout of gift purchasing frenzy. 

air-bagThe next morning as I was driving him to work, we passed by an overturned vehicle with a coroner’s car leaving the scene. Traffic was blocked for miles … and I wondered about the person who had arisen that morning, combed his or her hair and left for the day, completely unaware that this would be their last few hours on the Earth. 

(I later learned that it was two young girls who were driving on an icy highway, too fast, in a 4-wheel vehicle that they might have assumed was immune to trouble on a slick road. By the description of the accident, it appeared to me that they were driving too fast and the driver was too inexperienced to know how to handle the vehicle for the weather conditions that existed during that early morning hour. Worse yet, her passenger was sitting in the back, no wearing a seat belt. It was the passenger that was killed when thrown out of the window as the jeep hit an embankment twice and then tumbled, shattering the back window and throwing her out onto the highway where two more vehicles hit her at high speeds.) 

Everyone in a hurry … lives changed forever.

Each of us has experienced the stress of the subconscious messages that are shoved our way.

Advertisers telling us that we MUST have this item or that – or else.  Family members demanding and expecting certain behaviors and attendance at family meals that will once again drive a nail into the coffin of “we never speak of that” while pretending to be joyful and happy while spending money on gifts they can’t afford while giving them to people who most likely won’t even like what they were given. 

Noticing and seeing - togetherTo stop the repeating dance of “do as you are told” regarding where you spend your time, with who, and how much you are expected to spend … notice the heart attitude of everything that you do.

Don’t be afraid to say, “no” or “We’ll be staying home this year, thank you for your invitation”, or … 

ANYTHING that pressures you, demands from you, or guilts, or manipulates you is NOT Christ-like. Think about it – if Christmas is supposed to be a Holy Holiday that focuses on the birth of Jesus – does it reflect and honor Him at all?

Why are we so afraid of not going with the popular flow of beliefs when it comes to celebrating the Son of God?

Truly, no matter what RELIGION (there is a difference between religion and relationship with your Creator) you choose to follow, does this same guilt-pressure-manipulation-fear driven emotional wave come over you if you do not celebrate as everyone else is celebrating? Aren’t all rituals really man-made? What is God the most interested in? Your heart? Or your excellence at performing a ritual that is geared towards pumping money and time into other people’s and organizations agendas and coffers?

The heart of the seasonThe HEART of the season is what you have to pay attention to. Your own heart. What is unnecessary stress costing you? Your health? Your sanity? Your peace of mind? Your family? Your life? Your joy? Is that reflective of your spiritual beliefs? Is the fruit from this type of stress the true gift that you want to give to yourself or your family?

How can you change that? By giving yourself the gift of noticing this next year. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Notice your choices and actions. Notice your opinions and the running dialog in your head and heart.

Without noticing .. you cannot change what you despise.  And here’s a powerful key to remember …

The big payoffThere’s always a pay-off for remaining where you are in life. The payoff is life giving, or it isn’t. Your payoff is the ‘right to blame others’ for your stress so that you don’t have to do anything about it, and another pay-off may be in taking revenge on those who you inconvenience with your complaints and malady. 

Gift giving When you hand a brightly wrapped gift that you really couldn’t afford to someone who you probably won’t impress or who expects to receive a gift without considering the cost – are you really giving them what they need, or what you feel you must give – while underhandedly also delivering a message of false sacrifice and suffering, wrapped in guilt and manipulation? (strings attached)

Whether you want to admit it or not, this is a default behavior of human beings and it comes in all sizes and expressions. But it’s there.  It’s called a victim mentality that feeds of off selfishness and blame.

Notice …

Notice the fruit of your choices during the holiday seasons when manipulation is at it’s highest. Notice how you respond. Now, through the next year, keep on noticing … Notice how extreme and how subtle selfishness, blame and a victim mentality rises in your day. 

Once you start to notice, you will change it. 

Jesus said, “You shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH will set you free …” If you aren’t set free … then you don’t know the truth yet … keep digging and keep noticing.


* Gingerbread Men, Gift Giving and Lighting Candles

* History of the Christmas Tree


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