It seems sometimes as if the world has turned into a kind of global supermarket where the only thing you can buy are cheap promises.
Life has become so hideously competitive that wherever you turn there are 101 dubious offers designed to get your attention, each one promising more than the last, each one with about as much substance as fresh air.
It’s not just limited to the retail sector, it also swarms through business and life and leisure and love, and everything in between. And the noise is constant, whether you’re in the market to buy, or not.
We’re accosted at every turn by yet another not-to-be-missed change-your-life-in-an-instant deal. It’s on every billboard, in your email inbox, through your letterbox and it swamps your social media feed.
Not only is it relentless, the promises are often as hollow as an ice cream cone.
The Dubious Supermarket of Life offers all sorts of too-good-to-be-true, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to buy:
Buy One Get One Free
We see the BOGOF deal a lot in hypnotherapy, particularly in relationship therapy. The client has found the man or woman of their dreams, everything seems to be going well, the relationship is off to a good start – and then they find that it also involves another person they were totally unaware of.
This could be a real person their partner is seeing behind their back, but more commonly it’s the ghost from another relationship that the partner hasn’t quite managed to lay to rest.
Sometimes, and perhaps even worse, it’s a third wheel that the client was aware of – but they took it on anyway in the mistaken belief that they would be the closure their new partner was looking for.
The BOGOF deal is compelling and hard to ignore because it’s human nature to believe that we can be the missing piece in someone else’s emotional jigsaw. But it’s also toxic and damaging. It impacts on self-esteem and confidence and can create trauma where none existed before.
Avoid BOGOF deals at all costs – they are never, ever worth it.
One Day Delivery
Ah yes, the quick-fix merchants.
Since we now live in a world that’s as disposable as it is instant, we’re no longer prepared to wait for anything. We used to think nothing of going on holiday, taking 36 or 72 photos, sending them off to Snappy Snaps and waiting several millennia for them to come back (usually with a Quality Control sticker on a third of them).
Now we can take thousands of photos on our phone and have them instantly, If we do want to actually print them, most of us can’t even be bothered to go to a shop and get them done there and then – we’ll just buy a nano printer and some photographic paper and do it at home.
Similarly, healing emotionally takes time, so when someone with a certificate they got on a train to be a coach in absolutely anything for $9.99 (an offer I recently saw on Instagram) offers you the chance to get fixed in one session, it’s tempting to believe they’re not the snake oil salesmen they actually are.
Let me break it to you now: there is no such thing as a one session fix for big or complex issues. Really. You have as much chance of discovering Eldorado or the lost city of Atlantis as you have of getting any meaningful help from someone who’ll fleece you for a sizeable sum of money in return for an hour (or less) of content-free therapy.
If you want to find answers to the emotional or mental health issues you have, you absolutely have to put the work in. There are no shortcuts. None.
… Or Your Money Back!
This is the diet pill advertised by the ‘perfect’ man or woman who’s never taken it in their life, the workout that promises to give you a six pack of abs in 30 days (it takes a hell of a lot of work to get abs – especially if what you see when you look down are abs-olutely not abs) or the meditation programme that will cure your depression.
It’s the Instagram ‘influencers’ offering a booty workout (complete with photos of their Brazilian butt-lift booty that they absolutely didn’t get from the squat workout they’re trying to flog you) or the anti-ageing cream that promises you skin elasticity you last boasted when you were 19.
Oh, and let’s not forget the YouTube idiots on their ‘private’ islands selling you the get-rich-quick dream. We still can’t work out what it is they actually do, but we’re pretty sure the money they’re making is the money they want you to give them in return for an empty promise.
We recently saw a Facebook post for find the love of your life in 27 days – how on earth do they deliver on that?
We want you to hear this from us first: you will never, ever get your money back, and you will understand this if you follow a complex breadcrumb trail of clicks to read 30 pages of prescriptive terms and conditions that no ordinary human being could ever adhere to.
Like insurance companies that offer very low premiums but create their own loopholes to exempt them from having to pay out on your claim, these offers seem too good to be true because they are.
The business world – and especially LinkedIn – is full of people who want to connect with you to offer you something. Sometimes, they’re trying to sell you their services. Maybe it’s website optimisation or accountancy or whatever.
But often they’re offering you something ‘for free’. Here’s a good rule of thumb: it’s never free.
There’s the ‘free’ business health check. The ‘free’ marketing audit. The ‘free’ software trial. The ‘free’ CV review.
What they’re actually offering you is this: Nothing.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a report that outlines several areas of your business that are underperforming – but it won’t tell you where or how – and the promise that the company providing the report can help you to address those problems and radically improve your income. All at a significant cost.
The alternative to this is where you’re offered the amazing opportunity to help someone build their business by becoming a marketing platform for them. This, typically, involves businesses offering you free content – blogs or articles, commonly – to host on your website with links back to their own website.
Even better, there are the LinkedIn users who think it’s perfectly all right and normal to contact someone they’ve never met and never connected with and innocently ask to ‘pick your brains’ or ‘get some tips’.
What they actually want is for you to give up – for free – all that experience and learning that your blood, sweat and tears has accumulated because they can’t actually be arsed to go and do the hard work and learning themselves.
These offers are dressed up to look like a great deal for you – content that’s supposedly relevant to your clients and customers – but which actually offers you no real benefit at all. A real recent example of this is a business acquaintance in the therapy sector who was offered a free blog about mattresses.
Sadly, it’s a fact of life now that most offers you see are dubious. Even the supermarkets are at it – their ‘3 for 2’ deals, for example, are designed not to save you money but to make you spend more of it right now, because ordinarily you don’t really need 27 kilos of dog kibble in your life at any one time, but it’s deal and it’s worth the hassle of finding somewhere to store it.
Most things in life are earned, whether that’s money, happiness or success, and the best things are hard-won. You put the work in, and you take the reward out. That’s how it should be, and there should be a certain satisfaction of enjoying the things you’ve worked for.
That certainly beats regretting how much you paid for the things you didn’t earn and that didn’t work.