by Tomar Levine, SoulGuidanceForYourBusiness.com
A message I’ve valued in some of your posts, Tad, is to not shame or blame people, to not make them feel worse about themselves in the attempt to market to them.
When I heard you say that, something in me relaxed and felt safe.
Accepting People Where They Are
I realized I don’t want to be with one more person who makes me feel bad about myself, whether it’s through harshness, pressure, subtle blaming or comparison. I’ve lived too long in a state of self-judgment, feeling inadequate, and comparing myself. I need my teachers and mentors to lead with heart. And from there I can find the inner resources to commit myself to what I truly want – which certainly includes pushing against my perceived limits. But not from fear, shame, or feeling in any way inadequate and needing to prove something, to get approval.
I believe that if we are to to help others we must meet them where they are and be with them in such a way that what is hurting can relax – not flinch or tighten, not get defensive or collapse more.
We need to see and accept them where they are and speak to that, extend our hand to them in that place.
Empathy vs. Manipulation
That is the difference between empathy and using people’s pain as a sales technique to manipulate them.
In the manipulative version we’re exploiting their fear or pain in order to get them to buy our “solution” to their problem – just like the advertising industry has always done. Advertising treats people as objects and knows just which buttons to push to get the desired result.
True empathy, on the other hand, recognizes our common human condition and makes people feel seen, accepted, and safe. Because empathy means we’re both vulnerable!
Is Manipulative Marketing “Child Abuse?”
When someone is afraid or insecure it usually means some “deficient child” identity has taken over – we all have them. So I just had this far-out realization that the manipulative approach is akin to taking advantage of a child!
We all tend to regress and feel all alone when we think there’s something wrong with us – we’re so sure we’re the only one or the worst case. We may feel totally hopeless because of the gap between where we are vs. where we think we should be. And it always comes back to feeling like a deficient child. This is pretty universal.
We look around and see the successful-looking facades that others project – the “adults,” who seem to have everything together – and we believe them. It’s called “comparing your inside to someone else’s outside.” The other person may feel inadequate too, but they just have a better mask.
Tell Your Own Story
One of the most compassionate, loving things we can do for someone, therefore, is to normalize their pain so they realize they’re not alone or different.
The easiest way to do that is to share our own story. Hearing the words, “I’ve been there too, it’s okay, it’s perfectly normal for you to feel that way” is such balm at those times.
Then if you say “I know a way out that worked for me. Maybe it can help you too,” the person can hear you as a friend, not in a state of panic.
Can You “Emphasize the Gap” Too Much?
I know we’re taught to emphasize the pain, the gap, what it’s costing the person to not achieve their goal. And I get that people are often in denial about that, don’t want to look at it, and so don’t move forward.
But some “manipulating pain” marketing emphasizes the gap so much that it feels insurmountable. I’ve been on the receiving end of that, and have sometimes felt I was just too inadequate, too far behind, not enough like the marketer (not confident enough, extroverted enough, glamorous enough) to ever succeed. So it made me feel more hopeless and at the same time like I needed to grasp onto whatever they were offering out of desperation.
I advocate the way of empathy – but it’s important to understand that that is not the same as coddling.”There’s still real work to be done, once safety is established. There are action steps to be taken, and emotional healing to take place.
Working with Inner Parts is Liberating
One approach that’s really helpful on the emotional level (and behavioral too), is that of working with “inner parts.” We’re all made up of many inner parts or sub-personalities. Each one takes over in turn as we shift from mood to mood, from reaction to reaction, during our day – but we keep thinking “this is who I am.”
A really easy way to make a difference is to learn to say the simple phrase “a part of me feels…” For instance, if you’re feeling inadequate, instead of saying to yourself “I’m inadequate” or “I feel so inadequate”,” try saying “a part of me feels inadequate.” As soon as you do that you actually step out of being identified with being the inadequate one, and step into being the Witness instead, the one who can observe the inadequate one, and all other parts. You instantly shift into being your bigger Self! That alone is a huge step towards freedom.
From there you can open a dialogue with the part of you that feels scared or inadequate (or any other way). You can find out what it wants, what it needs, how it’s trying to help you, etc. We can actually negotiate with our inner parts. Because it turns out they really need to be listened to, not judged and blamed!
So approaching the client with “Would you be open to looking at your situation in this way that I’ve found can really help?” and then introducing a re-frame like “a part of me feels…” moves from empathy into healing and action. There are many ways to work with negative beliefs and self-images. Working with inner parts is one of several that I love. (Another is the BeliefCloset Process for transforming limiting beliefs.)
Help Your Clients Step Into Their Power
When you engage the Witness, an aspect of the person’s highest, most authentic self, you are holding a vision of who you know them to be beneath the disguises of their ego. You are helping them get disentangled, and inviting them to step into their true power.
And you also support them in taking actions that challenge their fears and lead them beyond their comfort zone, which builds their confidence and gradually changes their sense of who they are from the inside out.
And none of this requires manipulating them by exploiting their fear, by shaming or blaming or making them feel worse about themselves in any way.
A New Movement is Beginning
Something very exciting to me is that there’s starting to be a groundswell of spiritual entrepreneurs – coaches, healers, business mentors, and the like – who are saying out loud that we don’t want to participate in manipulative marketing practices any more. I’ve been waiting for this day for quite a while.
In fact, some of us are so fed up with being told there’s no other way to have a business than using old-paradigm marketing (dressed up in spiritual language), that we have set out to create a radical new-paradigm business model of our own!
TLC – A New Paradigm of Business
I’m very proud to be a founding member of the True Livelihood Community (or TLC), a collaborative network of spiritual entrepreneurs creating a learning and teaching environment in which it will be possible to earn a full-time living working part-time, offering our highest gifts that we’re most passionate about.
This new paradigm of business emphasizes cooperation over competition, community over isolation, we-first sharing and support over me-first controlling and manipulating. In fact, our vision is to create the kind of world we want to live in!
Reaction to the pain many of us have felt, from being confined to the old, more manipulative and hard-driven marketing models, has led us to invent an entirely new mode of doing business. Our hope is that TLC will pave the way for many new forms of spiritually inspired business to emerge in the coming time – for that is what the world needs right now.
If you’re interested in finding out more about TLC (or would like to know more about the Healing and Clearing work I do as part of my Birthing Your Sacred Work coaching programs), please contact me at http://soulguidanceforyourbusiness.com/contact/ .
I also want to recommend the free video interview series Tami Simon of Sounds True recently did, called The Self Acceptance Project! There’s gold there for learning to be kind and compassionate towards ourselves and each other. http://live.soundstrue.com/selfacceptance/
Tomar Levine is an Intuitive Life Purpose & Career Guide, Business Strategist for spiritual entrepreneurs, and Akashic Record Consultant, as well as a speaker, writer, and artist. She created her program, “Birthing Your Sacred Work” to help evolutionary change-agents embrace their gifts and free their power so they can create a thriving soul-filled business that helps change the world. You can find out more about her work at http://