My educational background provided me with a public relations mind, so I get it. I know the “felt need” element of selling anything. I realize that often in this world we simply need to give people a reason before they care, specifically before they care enough to take action.
Seeing how this is my training and often a part of my job(s), I regularly hate myself.
The problem with felt-need based promotion is professionals actively work to make you feel like you’re not enough. The entire process is creating a ____-sized hole, which you come to believe can only be filled by what the promotion offers. In order to be enough, you need a faster car, a bigger home, more shiplap, less bodyfat, more probiotics, less plastics, and perfect children.
(My least favorite explanation that advertisers give for you making these purchases: “You deserve it.” While I do think you’re indeed a fantastic person, why do we cling so tightly to this earning-based mentality? But that’s another post.)
I don’t care about elite performance, but I do care tremendously about living long enough to know my grandchildren. I care deeply about having a solid quality of life and aging gracefully. I want my later years of life to be filled with beautiful memories of close friends and family and not full of doctor visits, endless bottles of pills, and long hospital stays. I want to take long walks on the beach when I’m 80, holding hands with my husband without being afraid of falling down. I want a tribe who cares about that. (-Michael Keeler)
I won’t say we’re all perfect just the way we are. It’s a both/and situation. We are enough, and we have work to do. We’re not finished. And the needs we feel? They’re real. Our humanness means we feel, we think, we grow. It is the nature of the universe to expand, and thus we won’t reach some state of doneness.
You see, many people (myself as one) are not interested in all the shortcuts to meet our actual needs. Six-pack abs are a superficial means of striving for acceptance and worth. Marketers want you to believe that a gorgeous midsection yields likability, but truth be told, I know plenty of people who have a rockin’ bod and are still assholes.
These real needs cannot be solved by a purchase for $49.95. It takes more than the right exercise or pair of pants – it takes time, energy, and a personal investment. These needs are only met with change; a change that happens below the surface of appearance.
I believe the heart of the author’s letter to the fitness industry was saying, I want change. I’m ready to do the work. Please help me. Until any of us get to that point, we’ll just be thinner (and probably poorer) versions of our same self, with the same needs lingering below the surface.
So here’s my disclaimer. Perhaps I’ll include it as fine print on all my “promotional” materials (because, ultimately, somehow, I have to tell you the options I’m offering to help you along the way): my yoga classes, my written ideas and thoughts – they will not change your life. Only you can do that.
It comes from within, my friends. It’s a well that doesn’t run dry, but only you can do the digging. I’m trying to be the kind of person who can hand you a shovel and bring you a beer, because that’s what I’m looking for as I do my own digging.
Carry on, my friends.