How to Deal With a Fallen Idol
When a favorite sporting, movie, fashion, societal, or other idol of yours falls and is disgraced, it can set your respect for the person and what they stand for into a tailspin. Whether they’ve transgressed good taste, social morals, the law, or your own set of principles, dealing with a fallen idol takes thoughtfulness and reflection, as well as compassion. It doesn’t mean that you’ll ever see this person in the same light again but it does mean that you’ll learn a little more about the imperfections of even those human beings who set themselves up as paragons of the way to be.
Understand what is happening to your sense of propriety. When someone in a position of power or fame does something untoward, something unlike “their usual self”, or breaches conventions unexpectedly, it tends to offend many people’s sense of propriety or what they thought was “right” about this person. Sometimes the manufactured nature of the front this person put toward society becomes all too clear when they do something that brings about their demise. It may well be that the feeling of being offended comes about because you feel that the person in question is a hypocrite, is not authentic, and is a false representation of the characteristics that they were publicly held out as having. In turn, realize that your expectations of this person being a paragon of virtue may have been very unrealistic.
Allow time to heal. Many of the steps in this article will ask you to try to set aside your initial reaction in order to try to see things from your fallen idol’s perspective and to try to distance yourself from media hype. All the same, it is important to mourn the loss of your belief in this person or what you believe they stood for, and to give yourself space to heal over what can very much feel like a sense of betrayal. Bear in mind that healing doesn’t involve condoning or forgetting this person’s actions or attitudes; the aim is to minimize the impact of your loss of faith in this person and to try to redeem what remains good out of the disappointment.
Be cautious about the media reporting of the situation or issue causing your idol to fall in your esteem. You weren’t at the event or in the situation, and you don’t know the person for real, and neither do most of those reporting the incident or situation in question. It is easy to suppose or guess at what a person may or may not have done, or have felt compelled by, but it is far harder to confirm the facts and motivations. In general, what the public learns is usually only the partial truth and judging a person based on pulp media musings is liable to be riddled with misunderstandings.
Consider the situation of people who release auto-biographies years after they had something happen to them that besmirched their very public reputation. In such reveal-alls, you will often learn the person’s own view of what motivated them and why they felt they were justified or repentant, etc. You will also learn from these that the media’s role was less than angelic, was speculative, and was often wrong. Many an autobiography or biography, has changed a reader’s perspective about a person. It may be years before you really get a grip on what the person in question did or what the situation really was about.
Aim to be understanding. Imagine what it must feel like to be under the spotlight 24/7. Despite the money, the fame, and the power, there is a large amount of responsibility to behave in a certain way all of the time that creates a lot of pressure. And that pressure can sometimes cause a person to feel tense, nervous, angry, and cooped up. The chattering adulation may come to mean little, and a person in the constant public spotlight may long for a time when people leave them alone. Alternatively, sometimes fame and power can lead people to believe that they are capable of anything and that the normal rules don’t apply to them because their money or allure is a form of persuasion that works, opening doors that most people can only imagine. This heady fame and power trip isn’t handled well by some who lose their sense of self, self-discipline, and boundaries. And unless you have been there, it is a little difficult to say you wouldn’t fall that way…
Realize that the person might have been raised very differently from you, might see the world very differently from you, or could have been taught or encouraged to do the things they do. This aspect of your idol was probably always present but was not obvious until they fouled up.
Be compassionate. Try to stand in your fallen idol’s shoes and imagine how they must feel when their indiscretions, stuff-ups, or sheer stupidity has exposed them so openly, and placed them at the mercy of the public’s disgust, contempt, or hatred. It’s surely not a good place to be and if it’s something that can never be lived down, they will suffer an internal struggle for the rest of their lives, let alone being the poster child for whatever indiscretion or mistake they made.
Consider whether you really feel such abhorrence or disgust and whether it is right to feel that you are in a good position to judge a person harshly for the rest of their life? Ask yourself if you feel so morally superior to this person that you think it is all right to gossip and degrade them with any opportunity you get. Are you a gossiper and rumormonger normally?
Bear in mind that in joining the outraged mob, you leave little room for being imperfect in your own life. Compassion enables you to forgive the person for their error and to let them be, to find their own pathway to self-forgiveness. Compassion does not mean that you have to condone what they did; it simply means that you do not place yourself in a position of superiority to them, and that you recognize that you too could make similar mistakes if given similar circumstances, or at the very least, it is recognition that nobody’s slate is clean.
Think of your past actions, and how unfair it would be for others to view you in your worst moments. Think how difficult it is nowadays when many situations can be preserved forever, such as text messages and videos.
Analyze your expectations that cause you to idolize people in positions of power and fame. What do you get from admiring people to such a point that they seemingly can do no wrong in your eyes? Consider the possibility that this a rather unrealistic way to view some people in society, especially since you’re hardly likely to do this with most people you know. Think about how you care for people generally; you know most of your family and friends have foibles but you love them or like them all the same, or you choose to overlook the foibles and get along with them at the very least.
Appreciate the good in your fallen idol. If you liked this person up to the moment of their “demise”, there is no reason to cease appreciating the art, beauty, cleverness, changes, etc., that they have brought into the world. To deny your enjoyment of their music, sportsmanship, acting, scientific discoveries, writing, etc., would be akin to your boss telling you that all your work up to the point that he decided to call you on a bad report was for naught and was being erased. How wasteful and abrupt a response! All of us are made up of many facets, and none of us are saints. We spend much of life learning to build on our strengths, manage our weaknesses, and trying to lead a good life. And we all slip up occasionally. As complex beings, it would be unrealistic and unfruitful to deny every product of our labor and every creation from our thoughts when a bad characteristic errs out of proportion with our whole self.
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Try not to read the tabloids, the ones that often overplay situations or even make them up. If you must read them, don’t read too much into them, or trust the content. It’s often pulp writing, juiced up with conditional language and hypotheses. Read the articles with much skepticism.
Know that there are few people, if any, whose whole life has been angelic.
Have mercy on others. You never know when being publicly vilified could be something that touches you or your loved ones and being compassionate about others’ misfortunes is the sign of being truly thoughtful and caring.
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About This Article
Updated: June 27, 2017
Article Rating: 72% – 18 votes
Categories: Featured Articles | Actor Appreciation
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