There appears to be this unspoken message that to inspire others, to teach, or to share our inner wisdom with the world we need to be perfect. You may see it in the media, on-line, on videos where motivational speakers, writers and teachers spend a lot of time affirming the need to be positive and sharing very little, often none of their human flaws or vulnerabilities – this is a heavy responsibility to carry.
Do we as viewers, readers, students, expect people who inspire others to be perfect?
Recently the amazingly talented comedian Robin Williams took his own life. He inspired a lot of people, he brought light into many dark place with his humour, yet he suffered from debilitating depression, and in a discussion on Google+, one thing I had noticed about comedians was this need to make people laugh and entertain 24/7. A lovely honest comedian said that this was part of the trade, comedians felt it impossible to switch it off, with people expecting them to be funny all the time. Can you imagine this? Having to be funny all the time – so tiring. What happens to those difficult feelings that also need expressing?
And so it made me think about how it can be the same for people who share inspiration and motivation too.
I share a lot of inspiration on social networks and through my YouTube channel and my book ‘When Everyone Shines But You‘ and I admit, it can be tough going sometimes because you can feel like you need to be invulnerable or impervious to emotional pain or stress, but it’s just not a healthy attitude to feel that we must only share what are judged to be ‘good’ attributes or ‘positive’ thoughts.
Are we betraying readers, students, viewers and supporters by sharing only our ‘perfect’ sense of self?
More importantly, are we not betraying our own being?
How can we ‘be human’ if we can’t inspire people through our dark times too?
I wonder whether other people sharing inspiration or wisdom feel the same? That feeling, that if we share that we aren’t coping well, that we are suffering from depression, that we have fallen from grace, then we are somehow fake and not practising what we preach? Do we dare to be vulnerable? Do we dare to make mistakes? Are we concerned that people will not buy our books, read our work, watch our videos, buy our products if we share our human side?
I don’t always practice what I preach. I have many human moments where I totally suck big time at being mindful, where I hope for a ‘happy… when xyz happens’ experience; I have moments where I fear the future and wallow in the past still. I’m human.
But the difference now is that I remind myself that I have tools at my disposal. And I am being mindful.
I am being mindful – that I’m not being mindful! (wide grin). And this too is okay.
This is why i’m so glad I don’t solely focus on the ‘positive’ to the exclusion of the ‘negative’. I’m acutely aware that any ‘negative’ periods in my life are doorways into a greater sense of self-compassion and understanding.
Does the world need inspirational people who are ‘always’ happy? Or humans on a journey, exploring all aspects of being human?
If you do share wisdom, teach, motivate or coach people, how do you feel about sharing your vulnerabilities and tougher times in life to those who may follow your work?