Episode 111: Pedestal or Portions

 In Blog, podcast

Somewhere along the line we picked up the belief that some people are “better” than others, they’re more likeable, more valuable, more popular, more educated – all the things and with this we have the tendency to elevate them and put them on a pedestal. But if they’re up there, where are you? What does that say about you? And more importantly, what does that do to your confidence? Find out in this week’s episode 111: Pedestal or Portions


Welcome back my friends! I hope you are all having an incredible week. I’ve had this topic on my mind for some time and I’ve been waiting to get this out to you all because I know this is going to help so many if not all of you because we’re in this world of humans and we’re socialized to believe we need to find our place in the hierarchy of social life and it shows up even in these seemingly good ways but in reality is doing more damage than good.

I’m talking about the concept and practice of putting people on a pedestal and you’re not alone. We’ve all done it. Just think about people you admire. People that have “high status” in the world, famous people, people that make a lot of money, that have high connections, that seem to be at the top of their game, when we meet new people that we connect with or if you’re single and in the dating scene then it’s easy to fall into this practice where we see someone as just having incredible qualities and we morph all that into this one overgeneralized thought or category and of course, this is the pedestal.

It might seem like a good thing. We like them, a lot. They’re amazing! They can seem like they’ve just got it all together, they embody these traits that you admire. They’re successful and maybe seem to be good at everything and like I said, on the surface it al seems good. It seems like you’re giving them a place of constant compliments in your brain but visualize with me for a moment,

If they’re on a pedestal – a stool, right? Where are you? Do you see how even in these super subtle ways while we are elevating someone else that we admire, at the same time we’re putting ourselves beneath them and just think about what that does to your confidence. Think about maybe how it feels to be around them. It might be fun but I’m sure several of you start acting differently around them than how you would normally act. We might show up strange or awkward, we might trip on our words or not be able to think quickly and this is to be expected because in your mind, they’re above you, and you want to show up “perfect” so that they’ll like you too or think nice things of you too and so you’re spending way more time in their brain than you are in yours. 

This has a negative impact on how you then view yourself. We might say things like, “ah, why did I say that? That was so stupid. I probably looked so foolish” and we’re so focused on our own perceived flaws and shortcomings which again puts them even higher and you another notch lower. 

Now, I’m all for high praise and seeing people in the best of light but it can’t come at the expense of own self-worth.

So I want to offer you 4 ways to navigate the pedestal predicament.

The first is not to knock them off their stool. They can stay there. They’ve obviously shown something that you are attracted to and I don’t mean that in a romantic way but something drew you in and likes to take note and be a part of what they have to offer. And maybe that’s something you want to dig into. Start by just questioning why they’re on that pedestal and what is it that you are attracted to?

So think about this: If I don’t know, Oprah knocked on your door how would you react to that encounter? Would you treat her differently than other guests? What is it about her that you admire? Notice how you’re showing up around her. Do you like her message? Do you like her status – her fame? And it’s okay if you do, a lot of people are drawn into fame because our primitive brains are wired for belonging and if you’re  famous well, your secure, right? You’re in with the big crowd so it makes sense why a lot of people are drawn into that world.

You know what’s fascinating? I read this study once, I’ll have to find it for you all but it was talking about sports teams and their fans and when their team was killing it and having an amazing season they noticed that their fans would attach themselves to them. They’d say things like, “We’re having a great season. My team is amazing right now”. We, mine, my, our – they want to be a part of that. But when the team wasn’t performing well they noticed that their fans distanced themselves to a degree by saying, “The niners aren’t doing well right now. They are going through a rough patch.” And they disassociated themselves – it went from ME and MINE to They and them.

I bring this up because it’s interesting to dive into. We are naturally drawn into people of “high status”. We want to be a part of that. How many times have you yourself or you heard others make connections to someone famous? Like, I know someone that was in that movie, or my cousin’s cousin works in the White House. We want to be a part of something big. We want to be included in the group. So just ask yourself what is it about this person that I admire and own it as silly as you might think it is, owning it is huge. It helps you to understand why your brain is thinking the things it is so that you can decide if that’s actually serving you or not.

So step one: Start the awareness – what is it that I admire and why are they on that pedestal?

Step #2 is to see them as a real human being. Often times when we place someone on a pedestal we overlook any humanity, any weaknesses they still have, anything they’re still working on. We don’t see them really as a human. We see them only as we want to see them. And one problem here is that we don’t connect to perfection. We can’t. We can’t relate to that and when do this, when we elevate them in this light it becomes a dangerous place for us and for them because inevitably they’re going to do something or say something and it’s going to be earth-shattering to us. We’re going to have this crash because it shattered this ideal we held them to in our minds, this illusion and when something happens we become disillusioned and we didn’t ever allow them the space to be human.

And this goes for anyone that you put on a pedestal of any kind. This can be a family member that you have these exceptions of and maybe they say or do something that is disappointing in your eyes and for so many of us we don’t know what to do with that disappointment that it inevitably hurts, strains, and damages the relationship, the connection. So many people have lost or walked away from friendship after friendship because when it comes to the pedestal we don’t realize but we take an all-or-nothing approach to it instead of letting them be human. Instead of realizing that they are in fact, human and we’re all different and no one is going to be able to show up the exact way that you want them to. So being aware of this can save your friendships, your relationships, you views and perspectives of people in your church, in your community, and in your world. Let them be human. Stop holding them to your unsaid, unrealistic expectations and I say unrealistic because they can’t show up and perform the way you want them to all the time because they’re not you.

I loved what Elizabeth Gilbert said about this. It was in an interview with Brene Brown and she said, “One of the most unkind things we can do is put someone on a pedestal because very soon, inevitably they’re going to do something that knocks them off and I’m going to have a lot of trouble with that because I really needed you to be something else and that’s inhumane.”

So step two, let them be human. When they say or do something that starts to knock them off that high status in your mind take that as an opportunity to see them as human. Say to yourself, “They’re having a human moment. This is what the humans do.” And instead of running with that all-or-nothing mentality, like, they’re all of the most amazing things I thought they were or we can’t be friends anymore. I can’t follow them anymore. I can’t be a part of that anymore like most people do we get to learning something about ourselves. We get to see our manual, our expectations at work. Most of the time we ourselves don’t even know what expectations we’re holding them to. 

We have this bad habit of treating people like they’re on a job interview. We have  this mental checklist in our heads and if they don’t check off all those boxes we’re like, “I thought we were friends.” Or “They’re just not who I thought they were”. And we lose connection. We ourselves closed that door and that’s a bummer because why we would we want to do that? The more we do that, the more your brain picks up on that and is like, “Oh, that’s what we do” and pretty soon you’re left thinking, “There’s no one here.” “There’s no real friends to be had” and that’s a lonely, discouraging place where your insecurities and anxious thoughts like to come out. This is where after a while we start to indulge in absolutes and things like, “There’s never any people that I can connect with”, “This always happens”. Things like that have us start to believe that something is fundamentally wrong with us and what we fail to see or realize is that nothing is wrong with either of you. It’s just that we’re operating from these subconscious negative belief patterns and it’s optional but we have to be aware of it first. 

So step three isn’t to kick anyone off of their pedestal it’s to realize there is no pedestal. The world likes to look at people like their on a bar graph. They’re better so I’m lower. Or I’m better and I look down on them. People that make a lot of money must be higher and if my job doesn’t pay as much it’s not as good, it’s lower or if they have a huge following they’re better (elevated) and I don’t so I’m lower. It’s this constant up down game and it’s hurting you more than know.

What you want to do is realize that there is no up or down at all but rather that we’re all horizontal. It’s like a bird’s eye view of that graph. We don’t see up or down we just see squares. We’re valuable and of worth. I loved seeing this interview ages ago with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah and she was stunned that he wasn’t like fawning all over her. It was like he was talking to the average Joe and she made several comments about it, because that was different for her – like you’re not seeing me how most people see me and why? And I loved that he just said that we’re all of worth. No one is better than another and it’s not that we can’t admire and appreciate but be very careful to lift someone above another, especially if that’s you.

Step four and this is my favorite. All other steps are in preparation for this one because we can’t get to this one until you can see yourself on an even field, one who has worth and value just like these others that we admire so much. So step four is to take portions and what I mean by that is to see and appreciate their individual traits, moments, examples, virtues, strengths that you admire about them and hold these precious in your mind.

This is more attainable for you to see something you like and want to either just admire and be in awe of that or to want to work towards that and make it possible for you as well. I love taking portions from each person that I met. I don’t elevate the whole of them because that’s pedestal talk but I focus on specific things that I love and admire. 

When we do this it’s okay if they’re human, it’s okay if they’re flawed in other areas. It’s okay for them to be them in all their humanness and it helps you to see what you really love and want to expound on and expand in your own life.

Instead of putting the WHOLE person on a pedestal like them for values and strengths they have. No ONE person is going to be able to maintain your pedestal checklist. They’re all human so instead of expecting them to be all perfect in every area that you specify – take traits, take examples, take moments and savor those. Use those bits to help you strengthen and uplift yourself and elevate your own personal character.

Take the good, take what’s productive for you, look at what’s possible, and the rest is none of my business. Really, it’s not. I don’t need to discount the whole because I don’t agree with everything. They can still teach me a lot of things. I can still feel uplifted in many ways while also giving them permission and space to be human which know what happens when we do this? We also give ourselves permission to be human. 

It’s easier for us to grow in all our humanness because we just know and see that the good, bad, and the ugly is all part of it. Here’s a really simple exercise to do and try this out this week because it’s fun and it’s really uplifting to do. Think of 10 people (fictional, non-fictional, in your inner circle or not, dead or alive) – 10 people and take portions of them. Find the areas/traits/examples that you do like and let go of the rest. 

Instead of putting the whole of them on a pedestal, we can shift it to, “I love that they did this” or “I love that they’re really good at being that”.

So here’s an example of this, let’s start with someone we all know:

1.) Madam Curie – she was an incredible scientist and trailblazer. I love her tenacity and her passion for possibility. She was open to exploring the idea that there could be something new. I don’t love some of her personal life but I don’t have to think about that. I can admire her and her drive and use that as I explore and learn and can think, “What would Marie do here? What would she think?” And it elevates me. It helps me. I’m influenced and inspired by her. I can take a portion of her without the whole of her.

2.) Steven Pressfield. He’s an author and I love so many of his books but I don’t always love all of his vocabulary and that’s okay too. I can take a portion. I can take the ideas, certain quotes, certain topics and use it to propel me forward. I can see this part of him as inspirational and I can also give him permission to be human. He doesn’t have to be everything that I think maybe he “Should” be for me to feel inspired by his writings and ideas.

Learnt to take portions and drop the notion of the pedestal altogether. Doing this it will help you capitalize on your own strengths while still allowing you space to keep growing and improving on other areas in your life. 

Okay, my catalysts. I hope this offered you some new thoughts and ideas to keep your friendships and be able to feel a bit more confident in your own mind as well. Talk to you next time!

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