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Putting People on a Pedestal: Problems With Idealization

As a life enhancement facilitator, I have had the privilege of assisting many people in all walks of life.

You can hold someone in high regard, but try to avoid putting them on a pedestal.

You can hold someone in high regard, but try to avoid putting them on a pedestal.

Why It's Problematic to Put Someone on a Pedestal

Whether it is your boss, a movie star, a friend, your partner, your spouse or your children, putting people on a pedestal is much different than holding them in high regard. While there may be many attributes and abilities that you admire in another, putting them on a pedestal because they display certain traits serves neither yourself or the other.

The Pedestal Implies They Are Above Us

In order to place another above us, we have to consider ourselves as beneath them. While you may respect them or think them worthy of such esteem, in actual fact you are setting your relationship with them up for failure.

We hold people that we put on pedestals to a higher standard than we hold ourselves or others. We see them as more than and better than, and while this may be true, it is only true in certain areas of their lives and specific arenas that they operate in. In other areas of their lives, they have their shortcomings; when you have someone on a pedestal, your tendency is to focus only on your own shortcomings.

This has a negative impact on your own sense of self-worth and self-esteem. You overlook your own attributes, skills and abilities in favour of the other. You cannot effectively work with the other when you are holding yourself back.

See the Actual Person, Not Your Idealization of Them

If you have another on a pedestal, you are not seeing them; you are seeing only your ideal and only those aspects of them that you want to see. There are those among us who act like they belong on a pedestal. Thinking something and the actuality of something are two very different things. The person on the pedestal feels pressured to act in a certain way without fail. The person or the people who placed the other on the pedestal feel that they are failures.

The minute you put another on a pedestal, you are denying both yourself and the other the actual experiencing of each other. Instead, you are relating through a lens of beliefs and precepts that may in fact be quite distanced from the truth.

Vanish Your Icons

Vanish Your Icons

Don't Give Away Your Power by Putting Someone on a Pedestal

While the other may have attributes and abilities that you aspire to have or wish you had, your putting them on a pedestal continually keeps these same attributes and abilities out of your reach. You have given your power over to the person on a pedestal.

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Often, groups of people will elevate another to pedestal power, and this is how cults come into being. Whether the person has been placed there by the false precepts of others or demanded to be put their by some false delusions of their own, nobody belongs on a pedestal—at least nobody who is alive. Even then, some of mankind's great icons have had extreme personality flaws and areas of their lives in which they were barely functioning.

For a long time, people have put professionals on a pedestal based on nothing more than a title and some credentials. Neither says anything about the kind of person they are. If a professional said a thing was thus, it was law, and people have operated on professional opinions often to their great detriment.

You Cannot Communicate With a Person on a Pedestal

Further, it is impossible to work with someone else when you have them elevated to some lofty, out-of-reach position. It makes communicating with them extremely awkward and uncomfortable if not impossible. People who are on pedestals are very hard to get hold of.

Pedestals Create Unrealistic Expectations

Our newspapers, the internet and our television and radio programming are full of stories about the latest fallen hero who did not live up to our unrealistic expectations of them. We view ourselves as so imperfect that when those who we esteem to be perfect fall, we show them no mercy whatsoever.

The truth is we all have things that we excel at or have the potential to excel at. We all have certain innate attributes and abilities and our own way of manifesting them in our outer realities. That some of us chose to assign our power away through our reluctance to be known and to take responsibility for what we know is a matter of choice. However, when we do so we also give over control of our own lives and assign it instead to the hero of the moment.

When we put others on a pedestal, make them stars we are deprived of not only knowing them but also of knowing ourselves. People are who they are regardless of what you think about them, and what you think about them does not change who they are in the least—it only changes your perceptions of them.

We Must All Work Together

An employer benefits when the employees work with him rather than for him, or worse against him. The same holds true of marriages, partnerships, friendships and parenting. Fostering a work with attitude can only take place when we do not lift others to an unreal altitude.

There are those among us who shine, there is no question of that and their wins should be celebrated. But, rather than being blinded into idolizing them, why not instead hold them as models of what we are individually and collectively capable of becoming?

Everyone Is Important

"You're not anyone in America unless you're on TV." —Nicole Kidman

I beg to differ. Everyone is someone, each and every one of us. You are born someone—you! You are, and I am, too!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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