Do you find yourself admiring a certain person to the extent that they are perfect in your eyes and can do no wrong? If so, you may be putting this person on a pedestal. Putting someone on a pedestal is a psychological phenomenon where a person idealizes another person to an unrealistic degree. This can happen in different kinds of situations such as in romantic and familial relationships. The Putting Someone on a Pedestal Psychology runs the gamut from idolizing friends to celebrities.
WHY YOU MAY BE PUTTING SOMEONE ON A PEDESTAL
While it might feel good to admire someone and even think of them as better than anyone else, there may be deep-seated reasons for this type of thinking. Here are some possible reasons for the Putting Someone on a Pedestal Psychology:
Idealization: When we idealize someone, we perceive them as nearly flawless, focusing on their admirable traits and accomplishments, while downplaying or ignoring their flaws and shortcomings and unflattering traits. This tendency to idealize may be a yearning for a hero or role model to draw inspiration from.
Projection: Sometimes we may put others on pedestals because we are projecting our own unfulfilled needs, desires, and aspirations onto them. We see qualities in them that we wish to possess or experiences we yearn to have. This projection can form a one-sided emotional bond, bringing about a false sense of fulfillment as we live vicariously through our idols.
Low Self-Esteem: If you put others on a pedestal you may suffer from low self-esteem. This mindset stems from the belief that the people you are elevating to Herculean heights are so superior that you feel unworthy in comparison. Unfortunately, this can lead to a power imbalance in your relationship where you end up feeling subservient and inferior.
Seeking Validation: Seeking validation and approval from others is a common reason for placing someone on a pedestal. This is especially prevalent in personal relationships where the power dynamics are imbalanced, and the idealized person is perceived as more important. The one doing the idealizing may believe that by elevating the other person, they can secure their affection and approval.
Insecurity and Fear of Abandonment: People who put others on a pedestal may be looking for love, attention, and approval, and the thought of losing these can lead to the fear of abandonment. These insecurities and fear of abandonment can drive us to try and maintain the relationship at any cost, even to the extent of prioritizing the other person’s needs and desires over our own.
Escape from Reality: Placing someone on a pedestal can be an escape from the mundaneness of our own lives. It can also be a temporary relief from the challenges life throws at us. By fixating on an idealized person, we can momentarily set aside our own problems.
Social and Cultural Influences: Society and culture have an impact on how we view certain individuals like social media influencers, celebrities, leaders, and other public figures. Through media and popular culture, we are influenced to idealize and admire these personalities and aspire to be like them.
THE DANGERS OF PUTTING SOMEONE ON A PEDESTAL PSYCHOLOGY
It can be tempting for us to look at certain people and put them on a pedestal, believing that they will fulfill some need or provide some sort of reassurance and stability in our lives. We may feel like we need something or someone to look up to, to make sense of the chaos and uncertainty around us. It’s natural for us to seek out sources of inspiration from those who seem larger than life. However, if we are not careful, this tendency if taken to the extreme can have undesirable consequences. Here are some of the pitfalls of the Putting Someone on a Pedestal Psychology:
Unrealistic Expectations: Putting someone on a pedestal goes hand in hand with unrealistic expectations, which only ends in disillusionment. When the person we idolize inevitably reveals their imperfections and limitations and fails to meet our expectations, we may feel a deep sense of disappointment, hurt, and even resentment.
Emotional Investment: When we elevate someone to the status of hero or idol, a profound emotional bond can be forged. It’s a connection fueled by admiration, adoration, or infatuation. But beware, this attachment is not only one-sided but can also consume us.
Loss of Autonomy: People who idealize others to the extreme may lose their sense of self. They may end up prioritizing the needs and desires of the other person at the expense of their own identity, ambitions, and well-being.
Dependency: The Putting Someone on a Pedestal Psychology can result in unhealthy emotional dependency. When we idealize someone, we may become overly reliant on them for emotional validation and support and may look to them for a sense of purpose, which can undermine our confidence and self-awareness.
Power Imbalance: Putting someone on a pedestal can create a significant power imbalance in a relationship. The idealized person may inadvertently or intentionally take advantage of this dynamic, leading to an unhealthy and one-sided relationship.
Lack of Objectivity: Putting someone on a pedestal can hinder our ability to see them objectively. This can cloud our judgement and cause us to make bad decisions where they are concerned.
Isolation: The Putting Someone on a Pedestal Psychology can be a socially isolating experience. As we hyper-focus on someone, we may withdraw from other relationships and activities to prioritize them. This kind of isolation can result not only in a lack of a support system, but it can also stifle personal growth.
Dizzying Heights: From the idealized person’s perspective, being put on a pedestal can be agonizing. Constantly having to uphold a flawless image and live up to unrealistic expectations can be incredibly stressful and mentally draining.
MY SOMEWHAT EMBARRASSING STORY
If you are predisposed to the Putting Someone on a Pedestal Psychology, don’t feel bad. You are not alone. I too am guilty of putting someone on a pedestal in the recent past. This happened a handful of years ago when I was desperately looking for ways to increase my income through a side hustle. I am not going to mention names but the person I put on a pedestal was a fake guru who claimed to have helped thousands of ordinary people achieve financial freedom by teaching them how to start online businesses and become entrepreneurs. He claimed to have gotten rich through real estate, investing, and other fancy businesses, attributing his business acumen to having thoroughly studied the strategies of a bunch of millionaires and reading one book a day. This fake guru was so charismatic. He appeared to be so self-assured and a genius of sorts, and I believed he was the answer to all my problems.
I signed up for one of his courses that cost $97 a month and promised to share all the secrets to success that would lead me to financial freedom in 67 steps. For the next several weeks I poured myself into the course. But halfway through, I began to get suspicious. I’d sat through hours upon hours of videos of this fake guru’s anecdotal stories about his favorite mentor who was a farmer called Joel Salatin, as well as billionaires like Warren Buffet, Charlie Monger, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Andrew Carnegie, and yet not one trade secret had been revealed.
I knew for sure I had been scammed when he demonstrated how he read a book in one day. He first read the blurb at the back of the book, then turned to the first few pages and read those too. He skipped casually all the way to the middle of the book and skimmed a few pages, and then finally flipped to the last few pages. I don’t know what I was expecting but I was extremely disappointed. A big part of me wanted to believe that he had found a hack for reading books really fast. Reading one book a day was supposed to be his golden ticket to great riches but clearly it was all a lie. His legacy was built on foundations of sand. I learnt the hard way that putting someone on a pedestal can blind you to the truth staring you in the face.
It’s all well and good talking about the bad consequences of idealizing someone. The question is, is there a cure for this Putting Someone on a Pedestal Psychology? I don’t know about a miracle pill but there are four actionable steps I took to quit the habit of putting people on a pedestal and I hope they can help you too:
Remember that No One is Perfect: When we put someone on a pedestal, we tend to forget that no one is perfect. The reality is that everyone has flaws and weaknesses, even those who seem strong and invincible. Remember this to avoid creating unrealistic expectations based on your own idealized versions of perfection.
Spend Real Time: Someone you have put on a pedestal may seem ethereal and beyond your reach. It can be truly difficult to know how to act and feel around this person since you have idealized them so much. A good way to break the spell is to get a more objective view of them by spending time with them on a realistic level. This up-close and personal view is likely to reveal that like any of us they are imperfect – warts and all. Hopefully, this will help to humanize them in your eyes.
Escape the Comparison Trap: It can be tempting to hero-worship people who have accomplished great things that seem beyond your reach. But rather than getting caught up in comparison, take the time out to appreciate your own wins and successes and celebrate them however small you may perceive them to be. Since life is not a competition feel free to run your own race.
Positive Self Talk: Whether you believe it or not, everyone has something valuable to offer, and that includes you. You can practice positive self-talk by focusing on your strengths. Acknowledge the unique gifts you have to offer the world. If you are not sure what these are, try taking note of the kind of activities that give you a sense of ease – what is the one thing that people associate with you? Sometimes it helps to take a journey of self-rediscovery as the clues to your uniqueness may lie in your childhood passions.
IT’S A PROCESS
Remember that working on your Putting Someone on a Pedestal Psychology is a process that takes time and self-compassion. But stopping the habit of putting someone on a pedestal can be a healthy and empowering step in building more balanced and fulfilling relationships. Be patient with yourself as you work toward these balanced relationships, and the hope is that you will find more satisfaction and contentment in your connections with others.
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Feature Image: The Pedestal by Artistrophe – Powered by AI-Generated Art