The spiritual impact of fame, part 2

Before you can heal, you need to be able to understand what needs to be healed. As I’ve mentioned before, fame is a pervasive energy. Losing your sense of Self is the core wound of fame.What are some of the other ways it impacts you spiritually?

Constraints, lack of safety and trust, denial of your right to be who you are,  the way people assume they have a right to you and that if they know you, you owe them a favor, constant interaction with the energy of strangers — all of this impacts your energy and mood.

Resentment, anger, fear, anxiety, shame, feelings of powerlessness — these are normal human reactions to having personal freedom severely limited and to being under constant surveillance.

Being swept into fame suddenly, as most creatives are when their work takes off, brings up a ton of conflicting feelings and social contexts to navigate and those complexities continue. But the greater issue at play is the toll this takes on your spirit, on your sense of personal radiance as a being who is here to create impact and make a difference.

Your spirit feels the continual drain and weariness that fame exacts, and in the busyness of life, what our spirit needs gets ignored, neglected, or abandoned. We lose touch with what truly nurtures us, what makes us feel lit up inside with light, we feel weighed down and heavy and slave to effort.

In my healing conversations with combat veterans, I remind them that as much as war takes, it gives. That there are blessings to be found, and sometimes the biggest blessing of excruciating experiences is that being lost gives you the opportunity to be found. As much as fame takes, it gives, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. Because your personal power and influence in this lifetime are magnified by the fact that fame chose you to mentor.

That said, if fame was easy to deal with there would be no reason for this site. And we all know that fame is one of the loneliest and most oppressive experiences that no one will acknowledge.

You know what you’ve suffered, love. But you may not have been able to put it into words. The following are some key areas where fame takes a steep toll.


Broken friendships

Fame makes you powerful because of your marketability, but powerless because you don’t usually control the budgets or executive decision-making that governs your work. You are viewed as influential, sometimes appropriately, oftentimes not. Fame plucked you out of your circle of creative friends, most of whom were still struggling to “make it.” Overnight, you became their ticket to success, because they assumed on the basis of your friendship that you could pull the right strings to make them successful, too.

When you didn’t or couldn’t (because really, you often just don’t have the power to do that), you’re the bad guy, they get hurt, the friendship ends. While your mind knows the rationale behind why it happened, your heart still feels a sense of shame and regret for having been seen as selfish or arrogant or unkind when, in reality, you are none of those things.

So much is riding on belief and hope and keeping the dream alive, that when someone “makes it”, those in your close circle feel an ecstatic relief that success is possible. Unfortunately, that momentary relief usually turns to self-criticism, discouragement, and despair. Your friends are happy for you, and then they start to wonder “why you and not me?” and since you are successful, they want to skip over their true fears of inadequacy and make you their golden ticket to achieve their dreams.

They’re not bad people, love, they’re just tired people. Tired of keeping the dream alive, tired of being rejected, tired of not being able to pay the rent, tired of having to listen to mom and dad tell them to get a “real job”, tired of having to talk themselves into one more audition. They look at you and assume that you can rescue them. And they don’t believe that you can’t.

There is a deeper truth here to uncover, though, and that is this: you don’t owe anyone anything because you are successful. Even if you can empower someone else, it doesn’t mean you necessarily want to and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to. You did the work yourself, you chose to sustain your faith and belief in your Self, you struggled, you defied the naysayers, you went without, you invested in your Self because everything in you knew that this is why you are on this earth. 

You had people who believed in you along the way or maybe you didn’t — but in the end, it was because of your refusal to give up on your Self when all outward appearances indicated you should that you are where you are today. Your success is Yours. If there is anyone you owe anything to now, it’s to YOU. Those friends you lost who thought you were a selfish prick because you didn’t (and couldn’t) bring them all along on your journey, they fell prey to the illusions of fame. Be gentle toward them in your heart, and try not to see their anger at you as intentional.


The assumption that you belong to the public

Because people can identify you, and they form emotional bonds to you through your work, they believe they know you and have a right to you. Granted, our paparazzi culture fuels this belief because they make you fodder for people’s escapism and fantasies. This assumption that people have a right to you is intrusive and makes it nearly impossible to find the objectivity to see the boundary of where the public ends and You begin.

It forces You inward and into enclosures, away from prying eyes and cameras, but also away from life being everyday life. Where many people would take a walk through a park, go shop at the mall, or nestle into a cafe for a few hours of contemplative alone time… you’re not able to do things like this without being a spectacle and causing a commotion.

The public believes the scope of your life is unlimited and that fortune must afford you any luxury experience you want. They fail to realize that the scope of your life shrinks dramatically (far more than they could ever tolerate) and the luxury you often most crave is normal, pedestrian life. Living in a shrunken life with severely limited freedom of movement makes it very hard to keep a sense of perspective. Everything is magnified in significance and feeling when you’re in a small room with locked doors.


Empathy does not openly exist for you

This is a tough one, because it’s not just the public that fuels this phenomena, but it’s perpetrated within the industry as well. Because fame is so rare and so glorified by the public, it creates a mental barrier in people that goes along these lines: a famous person’s life is so blessed and so great and affords such luxury and opportunity that they have no right to ever complain or claim they suffer. Any celebrity that whines is just being an ungrateful bitch. Celebrities have no idea what real life is like, and no idea what it is to suffer. Life is always easy for them.

You’ve had thoughts like this yourself, haven’t you? I know you have. Because there is a thread of truth in the fact that you have been greatly blessed, and the disparity between your problems and that homeless person on the street is so great that you feel ashamed to call your problems “problems.” As if it’s a sign of ungratefulness.

Anyone who has what appears to be the life of most people’s dreams is never allowed to have “real” problems. Celebrities who suffer with addiction, run-ins with the law, mental illness, “scandals”, and other tabloid headlines are relegated to being entitled, whiny, elitist rich people to laugh at.

Don’t let this mindset invalidate what you’re experiencing. Every person’s pain is valid. You are a human being with a real heart, a real soul, real emotions, real fears, real dreams, real anxieties, real vulnerabilities. Your pain is not less significant because someone else’s pain appears worse. Your pain is your pain and it impacts your life.

What do you think happens to you when your heart really is broken, you really are struggling with the weight of fame, you’re worried about whether or not you did enough at work, you suffer from depression, your kids are missing you, you feel lonely — and you are denied the right to openly feel any of it?

That’s right: addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts, reckless partying, boundary-less relationships. Without the empathy of other human beings, and under the pressure to hide from prying eyes, you turn the pain in on yourself. Self-destructive behaviors are just that. They destroy the Self. Because the pain and emotions are not allowed to be safely expressed and held sacred by others.

The other thing that happens when pain is not allowed to be expressed is that it intensifies. When you keep it all inside, it grows stronger. Anytime you can express it, you diminish it’s power because you move the energy of it out of the confines of your mind.


Not having anyone you can trust

When everyone wants to use you for what you can do for them, finding real friends and intimate relationships built on trust and generosity feels impossible. You get burned enough times and your heart shuts down to protect itself (and your ego, too, since most likely your “mistakes” in trusting someone were flaunted in the public eye). That expectation that you belong to the public and that people have a right to you, means that everyone and her brother shows up to use your influence for their ego, career, or financial gain.

Even friends you thought you could trust sometimes fall into beliefs that basically go like this: she has so much, and it all comes easy to her; meanwhile, here I am still struggling, still nobody. She doesn’t deserve to have all that she has, no one deserves that much. She won’t miss it. She owes me. I have to look out for myself and I am going to use any advantage I can get.

Obviously, “friends” who fall prey to these kind of beliefs stop seeing the equality between you as human beings. Their own sense of self diminishes and they don’t take enough ownership of their own life. But when you think they are a real friend, and then you find out they used you, it cuts deep.

Not only is it disappointing to find this out about their character, but it hurts because it’s one less person you feel safe with. Your ability to trust shrinks. It can send you into a spiral of self-doubt where you blame yourself for being “naive” or used, or for failing to see the signs or realize your friend’s deception. This is why cynicism becomes your defense.


No one will tell you real shit

Most of the people around you depend on you for their welfare. Which means very few are willing to tell you real shit or give you honest perspective. Even your circle of trust may tend toward wanting to protect your friendship rather than risk being truthful. This makes it hard to get raw feedback that would help in your personal and professional development from people who have access to your life.

These are just some of the ways fame takes a toll. You know better than anyone else how it’s impacted your spirit.

So the question now is, how do you find your way back to You?

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