Subliminal … And Not-So-Subliminal Messaging

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Two observations came to me this weekend, but of course, they’ve been there all
along, just waiting to burst forth into the open.

The first one had to do with our own messaging.

We don’t often know how our personal messaging appears to others, and what
we see as simply posting of a joyful part of our life (a vacation, a new home,
another life event) might be perceived by others as grandstanding or gloating.

I’ve espoused the theory of “What other people think of me doesn’t matter” and
proceed to post things that have meaning to me. In the end, that’s a good
philosophy, but we all want to be liked. I think it’s human nature. That said, we
shouldn’t live in fear or censor ourselves because of what someone else might
think. My thinking is as long as you continue to be kind with your messaging,
that’s all anyone can ask, isn’t it?

We should be able to go out, live our lives, and document them – our travel, our
crazy experiences, our successes, whatever positive things we wish to share – and
realize that our friends want us to be happy. They revel in our successes and our
joy. They’re our friends, after all. These are the people whose goodwill matters to
us generally.

The second observation that revealed itself had to do with the messaging we get
from advertising – and it shows how pernicious marketing can be.

I’ve always been told people love my smile. It’s definitely a feel-good thing and I
always appreciate the compliment (thanks!). But I like coffee and wine – most
wine, but red wine specifically. Well, these are the things “they” say stain your
teeth. In the past, I’ve tried to have my teeth whitened professionally (couldn’t do
it – let’s just say that I have good reflexes and leave it at that) and also using at-
home products.

Since we recently relocated, I had to find a new dentist. I finally met the
gentleman today. I love him. He’s funny and kind and willing to take the time with
a patient, not pushing me through to get to the next patient. I brought in all my products – he had praise for all of them – and I especially asked him about the
whitening product I had purchased.

He said, “You know, I’m kind of like the Lorax, only for teeth. I speak for the

His take was, hey, if you WANT to whiten them, the product you have is the one I
will suggest as it is quite gentle. But there’s no NEED to do it – your teeth are
lovely just as they are. No need to bathe them in chemicals to brighten them up.

And I realized right then and there that I had totally bought into the whitening
sales pitch. Even though people said they like my smile, I thought it could be
BETTER if it were whiter. Why? Because advertising told me so. Talk about
subliminal messaging. Think of all the other things we “know” that could be better
if we just did this, or ate that, or bought this other thing.

Yes, I know. Sometimes I need a brick over my head. What can I say? I will pay
more attention going forward as to how advertising is herding me in a certain
direction. I’d love to hear from you about what messaging you’ve turned away from.

I will say that if I do end up using the whitening product, it will not be because of
“need” or some perception of being not quite “good enough”; it will be because I
want to.

I’ve lived a life full of morning coffee and evening wine – and have enjoyed all the
adventures that went with them. The next time you see me smile, that smile will
be wide open and honest – and it will be blinding because of the happiness we’re
sharing instead of some outside (whitening) influence.

Finally, when you’re messaging – in person, online, however, you do it – follow
these guidelines: Be kind, be truthful, be joyful. Remember that you have the
right to share your experiences. In the end, be your amazing and glorious you,