Are You Ready for Your Close-Up? What's Behind This Insatiable Desire for Fame
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As people continue to step forward for having alleged affairs with public figures, staging hoaxes and crashing White House private events, Mike Robbins takes a look at what drives people to crave their 15 minutes of fame—no matter what it takes.I've been fascinated by the recent sensationalized stories in the media about "Balloon Boy," the White House party crashers and the various alleged mistresses of Tiger Woods. While it's easy to get caught up in the drama of these stories, blame the insatiable appetite of the 24-hour news cycle or judge the particular people involved, the deeper issue is that some people seem willing to do just about anything to get their 15 minutes of fame—even if it involves selling out on themselves and those close to them or causing pain, fear or public humiliation for them or others. What is this really all about?
While most of us assume we wouldn't go to the same lengths these people did in order to get attention, and not all of us have a secret fantasy to be the stars of our own reality TV shows, there does seem to be a collective belief in our culture that becoming famous and well-known is an important goal and a key element to being successful and fulfilled in life. No matter how many big examples we've seen over the years to the contrary, many of us still get caught up in the elusive and ego-driven chase of fame. And, even though some of us have no specific desire to be famous, most of us think that if we had or did that (more money, greater influence, better body, perfect relationship, enhance ability, etc.), then we'd be happy or feel like we'd made it.
When I look at this issue for myself, I notice that the driving force behind my own desire for fame (or any of the other external achievements I erroneously think will make me feel accomplished or successful) is a fear that who I am and what I'm doing isn't quite good enough. When we tell the truth to ourselves, most of us have some version of this fear and a deep-seated belief that we're fundamentally flawed. This isn't something we usually bring up at cocktail parties or even admit to the people close to us (or to ourselves). However, when we're really honest about it, our own feelings of inadequacy drive a lot of our behaviors, particularly the most debilitating, inauthentic and destructive ones.
What if, instead of standing back in self-righteous judgment, we use these recent examples (and the many that will inevitably follow) of fame chasing in the media to give us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, get in touch with what truly matters to us and practice being more authentic instead of chasing attention and acknowledgment. Standing in judgment of other people (those in the media or those in our lives), while easy to do and encouraged by our culture, doesn't really serve us or give us any real value. Relating to people, situations and circumstances as reflections of our personal and collective consciousness and choosing to learn from them gives us the opportunity to change and grow all the time.
3 ways to dig deep and find your authentic self
Are you craving your 15 minutes of fame? Here are three ideas to help you look beyond the smoke and mirrors and find your authentic self.
- Tell the truth about your own secret desire and motivation for fame and attention. Most of us have some secret (or not so secret) desire to be famous or at least to get more attention than we're currently getting. You may want to be on TV to get more recognition at work, to have more friends on Facebook or something else that will make you feel important. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be acknowledged in some public way, the issue often has to do with your motivation (it will make you happy or make you feel like you're somebody) and what you may be willing to do in order to gain this attention (sell yourself out, be selfish and hurtful to others or even lie, cheat and steal). However, this shows up in your life, and the more willing you are to admit it and own it, the less negative an impact it will have on you and those around you. As Sigmund Freud said, "We're only as sick as our secrets."
- Focus on what you really want: Underneath the desire for fame and attention are usually some deeper and more meaningful desires. Maybe you want to make a difference for other people in a profound way or you want to experience a profound sense of appreciation or you want to be bold and really step out in life. When you allow your ego to hijack your pure desires, you may turn them into superficial fantasies and erroneous notions. However, when you take a deeper look at what you really want and what's beneath the chase for fame, you will realize that these desires have nothing to do with gaining the attention of others. This change of heart can be incredibly liberating, empowering and exciting.
- Have compassion for yourself and others: As you notice yourself and others getting caught up in the insatiable desire for more attention or for fame itself, see if you can have a deep sense of compassion. It doesn't mean you are bad for having these thoughts, feelings or desires. Given the nature of today's media culture and our own feelings of inadequacy, it makes perfect sense that everyone has some version of this obsession. However, when these things show up within you or around you, having compassion will allow you to more deeply understand yourself and others and give you the opportunity to be more authentic. When you go beneath the superficial desire for attention, you can focus on what you're really after, which is usually a sense of real appreciation for yourself, for the people in your life and for what truly matters.
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