Healing the Wounds of Creative Success: Fame
(Before you jump off this page thinking this doesn’t apply to you, I’m going to ask you to please stay. Because while fame may or may not apply to you now, it surely does to someone you know, work with or want to work with. And understanding this aspect of creative life can only help you become a more caring, insightful individual. If you are someone who is subject to fame, may you find something for your spirit here.)
A Hidden Struggle
One reason I am a writer is to give people a voice – particularly to those who are unheard. A second reason is to get people to stop and think and see things a bit differently. It may seem contradictory, but some of the most unheard people are those who live under the veil of fame. And while you would think people in a position of recognition would have the power to be heard, the nature of fame often results in just the opposite.
We don’t hear about the spiritual aspects of fame and we don’t talk about it for a couple of reasons. One, the all-encompassing belief that says “If you’re famous, you have no right to complain about anything. Shut up and be grateful for what you have.” And the pressure not to appear weak or incapable of handling it.
For all its empowering benefits, fame is, more often than not, alienating and isolating. It can bless your life and tear your spirit apart at the same time.
A Perceived Loss of Identity
Fame isn’t just fans and followers limiting you from everyday activities and the freedom to be in public (which the non-famous so take for granted) – no the deeper wounds of fame come from a perceived loss of identity. It’s driven by the fact that ‘everyone’ believes they know you when, in fact, very few people actually do.
And when everyone thinks they know you and base that “knowing” on fantasy, image and assumptions that have nothing to do with the real you, trying to hold the real you above water becomes a spiritual life-and-death battle. One your soul may feel like it’s losing.
You may live with the perception that the real you is disappearing. Figuring out how to be you and retain your individuality can be very challenging given that the tide of fame will always be stronger than the current of you. So what happens? Feelings of isolation, anger, resentment, insecurity, being misunderstood, judged, criticized, and not being heard flood in. And what does the human spirit do in response? Feels wounded and builds ways to protect itself – ways that may deny, numb or resist it. Which often only cause one to be more alienated and misunderstood.
As human beings, we want to belong; but even more so, we want to be understood.
If no one can hear the real you, and you can never make yourself truly heard, it’s traumatizing. Your inner circle becomes your only circle and the only place you have a chance of being known, but even then it’s subject to a torrent of trust issues.
If you live under this fog of fame, you deal with a constant barrier between who you are and who everyone else thinks you are. They react to the version of you that they think you are. You react from who you are and a disconnect happens. They feel let down and you feel alone. You are communicating, but people aren’t hearing you because they’re listening to the version of you they have in their heads.
If you’re an A-list singer, director, actor or actress, you are aware that your “image” is part of your brand of success – and this perceived identity is necessary to keep a loyal fan base (which keeps you working and earning income.) But somewhere in this mix, your spirit needs to be heard. And you need to be the first person to listen to it.
The voices surrounding you push, push, push for continued success, more revenue. Once you’ve achieved the status of fame, it becomes exceedingly difficult to separate yourself from the expectations others have that you will continue to choose this path and the reality that you are a human individual who has every right to control his or her destiny.
Gratitude for your success and your fans, financial obligations, the expectation that what you’ve achieved is so rare that there’s no way you could ever consider not remaining on this path, the competition of peers – are all real and weighty pressures that make it harder and harder to hear your own inner guidance.
But if you don’t listen to your inner voice, who will?
Your Fans Will Never See You for Who You Are
Efforts to protect your heart from getting hurt and to protect people you love often cause one to either withdraw or lash out. And neither behavior actually represents who you are in your spirit. The public then reacts to your actions no matter what your intention was and you get stabbed again with the knife of misunderstanding. Trying to get the public to see you for who you are rarely works because, frankly, they can’t see you. They’re blinded by the perception of fame. No matter what you do, you will not be able to make them see. (They don’t actually want to see you as that would break the spell.)
So this isn’t about making fans see you for who you are – or whether or not they would accept you if they could. No, it’s about you seeing yourself for who you are. And living from that perspective in your day-to-day life. To do this you have to be grounded in spirit. You have to maintain a bigger picture of what matters in your life and live from the sense of power within your spirit.
Let Yourself Be Human
But how do you live from a place of personal power when your environment causes unnatural restrictions and often feels more hostile than accepting? How do you remember who you are in Spirit? Where you came from in Source? You start by allowing yourself to be human. By looking at the limiting beliefs you’ve also assumed and testing them, contemplating them and deciding if those beliefs actually serve your well-being and happiness. Perhaps nowhere else is it more important to decide who you are than when living under fame.
Start by accepting that it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to feel it. Every time you are misunderstood, there’s a part of you that people are rejecting, a part that is not heard, and that hurts. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to fame or a veteran at it. Every time someone lies about you, it hurts your spirit. Every time your name and image appear in ways that do not represent who you really are, you feel disempowered. It hurts. To deny it or try to rise above it will only make it worse. Few things hurt as deeply as not being understood. And once you admit that, you can focus on finding areas in your life where you can be understood. You can open yourself up to being gentler and less guarded.
Second, don’t give your power away. Don’t give your fans the responsibility of making you feel understood. Don’t give them the task of making your life meaningful. Don’t expect them to know you. Give up that underlying hope that they will know the real you. Concentrate on building trust in relationships close to you where it is safe to be vulnerable and exposed.
Third, remember who you are. Not who you’ve become. But who you are. The you inside that first felt the urge to create, act, perform, direct – the you that remembers why you chose a creative life, the you who still remembers who you were before you became famous.
Control What’s In Your Realm to Control
Fourth, live your life. Your power to live your life comes from what you decide to believe – about your fans, your position, your situation, your power, your worth, your ability to contribute. It all comes from your perspective, the way you choose to think about things.
You can choose to live in fear and insecurity or you can choose to live by faith and trust in yourself and Source.
You can let everyone elses’ opinion cut you raw or you can recognize that what they say is not the truth about you.
You can choose to live your life your way or let others dictate your life to you.
You can recognize and honor the fact that underneath fame, you are a human being with a human heart and emotions and that just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you can’t choose another path, that it’s not all right to feel what you do, or have priorities that mean more to you than being who you are to your fans and industry. You have the right to make choices about your life. To change course if it means a more fulfilling life for you. After all, what does it profit you, if you gain the whole world, and lose your own soul and happiness?
The more famous you are, the less conventional freedom you have. What is most important to remember is that your perception and thoughts are always within your control. And we create our lives by our thoughts.
Connect with Spirit
Most likely, if you’re famous, you’ve felt the isolation and alienation. You also feel blessed, grateful, and proud of where your work has taken you. You know that there are trade-offs for this level of success. Trade carefully. Your family and children don’t care if you’re famous. They just want you. Don’t feel obligated to feel a certain way just because you are experiencing fame. Don’t let fame be a reason you miss out on a life that you want or keep you from changing the life you have now. You only get one shot at your current lifetime.
Unfortunately, you may not find much support or spiritual guidance when it comes to dealing with fame. Nurturing your spiritual life and discovering what grounds you is essential. You have to be conscious of where you are looking for validation – to whom or what you are turning toward to find meaning in your life.
And you need to realize that no matter how hurt you’ve been, you have the power to heal and find wholeness.
Your creative gifts may earn your living, but they gift the rest of us with perspectives, insights and stories that have the power to change us.
And that’s an amazing ability to have. But only if it’s bringing you joy, too.