The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? Everyone wants to be everyone else. All of our suffering is done because we don’t want to be ourselves. All of that wanting-to-be-different just plain hurts.
The major issue is, we have trouble appreciating our own lives. That leads us to want others to appreciate ours, which is why we make efforts to ‘be impressive.’ But even if others do actually share our views on what’s ‘impressive,’ how does that help us? That experience happens between their ears, not ours.
We will not magically come to love ourselves because others love us. Yet, the advent of the internet has seen many normal, insecure people, using social media to try to create a beloved identity—as though that distant affection for them will help salve the suffering created by their unwillingness to actually approve of themselves, as they are.
This means that actually becoming famous ends up having the opposite effect of the one intended. Rather than making people’s insecurities go away, it puts them on public display, and makes any normal human mistakes available for replaying and revisiting. That is like rumination on steroids and it will not help.
That effect is why we often see famous people trying to hide, and act in ways that give them anonymity—they want the peace of no judgment. And that is healthy. But it is better applied to themselves, not just rabid fans.
Judgments hurt. But only the ones we believe—or suspect might be true—can have that effect. If someone judges us harshly, but we’re proud of the quality they’re attacking, then the judgment won’t hurt us. That fact illustrates that our good feelings come from us allowing ourselves to be as we are, and our bad feelings come from thinking we are supposed to be someone other than who we are.
Famous or anonymous, our days are still formed by how we interact with life through our thinking. If anything, it’s easier to control our own thoughts about ourselves if we’re not a celebrity, and we’re not forced to constantly hear other’s thoughts about us. So do not look to others to create your sense of belonging and place. As much as they might be willing to, the fact is, their sense of us only matters to them.
It is our sense of ourselves that defines our life. Rather than do what is impressive to others in their heads, we are far better to do whatever will create a sense of pride and achievement between our own ears–because that is a reality we can all live with.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.