We’ve all seen commercials like this one. The soft music sets the tone as we are shown little glimpses of some significant moments in life. We see a mother and father enjoying watching their children play; grandparents get to see their granddaughter prepare for graduation; two friends laugh and share advice; a soldier gets to see his baby on an ultrasound; two deaf people are able to sign to one another and have a conversation - and it is all possible because of the invention of Facetime. And while the advertisement may not immediately inspire us to go out and buy an iPhone, it does inspire us to think that in some way the iPhone makes people’s lives better. When this happens, we make an emotional connection with the product. This is the objective in what is referred to as Emotional Marketing.
We have all experienced the effects of emotional marketing, and I’m sure by now most of are aware that it exists. So what in the world does emotional marketing have to do with counseling? At first glance, not much. But when we consider the length of research done on the topic so that companies can make as much profit as possible, we are forced to recognize the significance of emotions. The advertising world knows that appealing to the emotions is the very best way to sell products/services, and businesses are willing to spend a great deal of resources to gain more insight into this. This means two things for us:
1) Our emotions are POWERFUL - they can direct our motivation, decision-making, and behaviors.
2) Our emotions can be INFLUENCED by what we are exposed to.
As counselors, we will voluntarily dive into the mysterious ocean of human emotions every day. And while it’s great to be aware of some of the tactics businesses use to lure us into buying things, I would like to propose the idea that this “emotional marketing” does not just happen in the business world. I think it is reasonable to believe that Satan is hard at work battling our emotions in a very similar way. We can easily be tempted to act in an ungodly way out of fear, envy, guilt, lust, or even out of “love” for something other than God. We can be powerfully motivated to do things we shouldn’t… just by the emotions we feel.
Understanding the power behind emotion can help us to gain a better understanding of our clients, and the choices they make. It helps us to see them through eyes of grace, knowing that we live in a fallen world, and that sin has left its mark on all of creation, including the mind and heart. When we are able to see emotion through this lens, we can heighten our awareness to people or outside forces influencing them, and recognize the tactics that are being used. And in the midst of all this, we can find great comfort in knowing that the God who created us understands it all, and promises to help us navigate by guiding us in the way of Truth.