“Envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’ve all caught ourselves looking up to (or side-eyeing) celebrities with admiration and, often, a touch of jealousy. Thanks to Instagram, idolizing the very rich and very famous (and sometimes even our own peers) has reached new heights. We are exposed to so much of their day that we can catch ourselves feeling envious that someone’s breakfast is healthier or more fabulous than ours, that their daily routine is free from flaws and hurried moments of mayhem, and that their every outfit is perfectly composed.
We spoke to Dr John DeMartini about why we need to look at both sides when looking up to a mentor, how we can give ourselves a better chance at learning from those we admire, and why comparison really can be the thief of joy.
RESCU: You say that when we look up to a mentor or a role model, or idolize a celebrity, we should look up at both sides. What does that mean?
Dr John Demartini: It’s not uncommon for people who are striving to empower one or more areas of their lives to look for mentors, or to other people who, at least in appearance, have a greater sphere of awareness and influence in their chosen areas. There are numerous people we could mentor under and learn from, but there are some who are in the limelight, the news and the media, whom some people latch onto because they don’t know where to look otherwise. That’s when we start to consider celebrities role models, compare ourselves to icons and wish that we could follow in their footsteps and direction.
The downside is, sometimes, we only hear the hype.
We only see one side of the icon’s life equation; we don’t get to hear all about the celebrity’s whole life. Sometimes the tabloids and the media give the other side, sometimes they don’t.
And when the media doesn’t, we can find ourselves comparing ourselves to somebody we have created half a fantasy around. There is still something to learn from that, but it’s wise to have a balanced orientation and know that there are so-called positives and negatives in every human being. There are things to dislike and like in every human being we admire. Any long-term relationship will teach you that.
It’s wiser still to embrace both facets of an admired celebrity if we are going to be mentored by them. So many people think about the positive side of their icon, but don’t think about, nor embrace, the negative side.
RESCU: How can we really use this when looking at people we admire?
Dr John Demartini: I’ve taken about a quarter of a million people through the process of identifying whatever they admire in other iconic people within their own lives. I teach people to look at their role models, list the traits in those role models that they admire and those they dislike, and then look at where and when in their own lives they demonstrate these same or similar traits to the same degree, quantitatively and qualitatively.
It’s empowering to understand that once we see those traits in ourselves we can capitalise on those admired traits until they are as prominently expressed in ourselves as they are in our heroes. For example, once we discover that we already have as great a work ethic as our business icon, then we can further focus on our professional development to get to the next level, as did the icon.
The moment we realise that the admired iconic traits are not missing in us, that we already have them to the same degree and that they are in the form of our own highest values, we can undertake one of two actions: either we can honour the form that we are already demonstrating and realise that we already have everything seen in the hero, or we can change our values to be similar to our heros and change the form to match.
RESCU: Say we truly admire someone like Angelina Jolie as a mother. I do…
Dr John Demartini: The first thing to do is to make sure you’re not only seeing what’s in the movies, magazines or the newspaper — they are probably only publishing the upsides. Because there may be times when she’s pulling her hair out, screaming at her kids and doing all the things that every other mother does.
RESCU: It’s also fair to let ourselves off the hook a little because someone like Angelina Jolie is not always up against the same challenges or financial limits that we — minus nanny, PA and personal Paleo chef — are up against, right?
Dr John Demartini: You need to have a realistic expectation if you’re going to have a role model. If you don’t, you can fantasise about something, minimise yourself, beat yourself up and expect to be something your values won’t allow you to be.
You’re setting yourself up to perceive yourself to be failure. If you’re going to look up to somebody, make sure you see both sides. Put them into perspective. There are times when your hero is mean, and kind: sometimes they are generous and sometimes they’re stingy.
So step one to dissolving envy is to know that people that appear to have only upsides are a myth. It’s infatuation. There’s no positive trait that doesn’t come with a downside, to some degree.
RESCU: Like the highflying executive with platinum points, right? They might Skype with the kids every night and look like they’re checking all the career and family boxes, but they still don’t get to kiss the kids’ foreheads at night. They’ve still got their downside…
Dr John Demartini: I’ve had friends who are enamoured with a beautiful woman, they become intimate with them then figure out looking flawless is costing her a fortune in money and time that he’d love to spend together, and that’s the downside. I see women who are infatuated by guys who are hugely intelligent and ambitious, then have to deal with him always wanting to be right. That’s the downside.
RESCU: Understanding that from the beginning can save us a lot of anti-climaxes and disillusionment, right?
Dr John Demartini: The wisest mentor/role-model arrangement emerges when you can see and embrace your mentor’s full 360-degree expression of traits. Knowing in advance that there is always a balance in everyone you may ever admire is just plain smart — it saves you from feeling let down by someone who you imagined to be always one-sided.
Want more of Dr. Demartini? Watch his videos here: