No strings attached…

From today’s installment of the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this –

“You are being manipulated.  You are the puppet.  They are the puppeteers.”  (Thomas Paine)

Jack used the popular kids show The Muppets to ask if you would rather be one of the characters or Jim Henson, the puppeteer behind a few of them.

One point that Jack was making in his post is the fact that we are both being manipulated puppetand being manipulative in our daily lives. We often hear the phrase, “He/she knows how to push my buttons.” That is just another way of saying that we are being manipulated by a puppeteer.

Advertisers consider themselves to be master puppeteers. They pull on the strings or push the buttons that they think will convince us to buy their products and services… and they are good at it. Advertisers have created whole new classes of personal or health problems that we never even considered and then provided us with the solutions to those problems with the catch phrase, “Ask your doctor about…”

Politicians are master puppeteers, too. For the most part, they have settled on the fear approach to getting their messages across. The recent spate of political ads were designed to strike fear in the minds of the viewer if, heaven forbid, the other guy/gal ever got elected. Our families would not be safe, our healthcare would be gone and the debaterscountry would go to pot (in some cases literally), if those scoundrels made it into office. The non-fear messages were just about as ridiculous – “elect me and I will go to Washington and single-handedly solve all of the problems.”

But, what about us? Do we act as puppeteers with those around us or are we being manipulated? Have you used the phrase, “She has me wound around her little finger?” You could be talking about a child, a girl friend or a wife. In abusive relationships one partner uses physical threats and actions to manipulate the other. Sometimes we useabusived wife deceptive behavior at work to gain an advantage or to “butter up” the boss. Maybe you are the boss and are allowing office flirting to influence your decisions. Are you acting as the puppeteer or being manipulated like a puppet?

Many have developed a healthy skepticism about ads on TV or elsewhere and most are too aware of the dangers to fall for the old scams that promise “you just won a million dollars, it you send us $1,000 to handle the processing of the award”.  I doubt that you’d be manipulated by the email that starts out, “Your grandson has been arrested in Abu Dahbi and needs you to bail him out.” Still, we feel the pulls on or heartstrings when the ASPCA ads for the abused little animals are shown and maybe we do pull out the checkbook and write a small donation for that.

The point of Jack’s post was that we should be more aware of the situations in life where someone is trying to manipulate us, or where we find ourselves trying to manipulate someone else. We would certainly prefer to be in the role of puppeteer than to be dangling on strings while someone else is in control of our emotions or actions. It is important; however, that we also realize when we are in a situation where we are manipulating someone else. We may think it is “for their own good”; however, any timethinking hard that we choose the role pf puppeteer we are being manipulative and really doing it for our own good, not theirs.

Keep in mind that the choice that you think you would make in that situation is made from your own perspective. They see things from a different perspective, one that may not allow them to see all of the alternatives and potential consequences. The better way for you to help is to try to help that person see the alternatives and consequences of their decision to allow them make the best decision for themselves in whatever choice they are facing. Anything beyond that is just being manipulative. Cut the strings. Don’t be a puppeteer, be a friend instead.

danceAs you go through the days ahead, see if you can identify those situations in which someone is trying to manipulate you or the times in which you find yourself trying to manipulate someone else. Just being aware in both cases will make you a better person, companion and friend, because you have chosen not to be manipulated and not to try to manipulate others. Let others dance to the puppeteers pulls on their strings. You have no strings attached and dance to your own tune.

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