Making People Special
It happens to all of us. We meet or read about someone who seems to have all the answers. But, of course, in the end, they are just like us, only a bit better packaged. We only see the front-facing part, not the less admirable bits.
Think about the wellness guru caught smoking, the spiritual leader who is rude to waitstaff or the advocate for social justice caught cheating on his wife. It doesn't mean they don't have anything to teach us, it just means that, just like us, they aren't perfect. It's tempting to believe that because they didn't live up to our expectations, they have nothing for us. But we know that's not true. We still value the paintings of Gauguin who left his family in France without a sou to paint in Tahiti or Hemingway who famously said "if you leave a woman you ought to shoot her". If we throw out the good because there is bad we'll have nothing left because there's always going to be bad.
Making someone special is putting them on a pedestal, imbuing them with special powers and seeing them as an ideal rather than a person.
When we discover that our idol is as flawed as we are, it's disappointing. But it's not really about them. We are the ones who choose to put them on that pedestal in the first place.
When we accept that it's the nature of things for everyone to have both good and bad we can choose to admire what is admirable and leave the rest. An action, an ideal or an accomplishment can be all good but a person cannot.
Immaturity and the longing for an ideal parent figure causes us to idealize people in an unrealistic way and then tear them down with vigor because they are just as flawed as we are.
When we start to understand this we can be more accepting of the parts of ourselves we feel ashamed of or wish we could get rid of. We can have a more realistic understanding of human nature.
Focus on the good things the person represents instead of idealizing the person themselves.
When we put our faith in admirable actions and values we can be inspired by someone without making them "special".
It's what someone stands for, the actions they take and the ideas they bring that we can uphold and be inspiredby. Ideals will never let you down.
From this stance we can accept the humanity of others and ourselves.
Be Your Own Guru
We all want someone to show us the way but, ultimately, we have to be our own gurus responsible for our own path. It’s tough being a grown-up. It's especially tough when we're struggling. We can ask for advice and support but it's ultimately up to us to choose our own path.
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