Meghan Markle, Meghan Kelly, and Meghan Trainor have all been in our news drama over recent weeks. All for very different reasons mind you, nevertheless they are well known and have been in the news for one reason or another. What do these women have in common? Each one has some degree of celebrity. Therefore, people see glamour in their lives and want to be them or be like them. But would those same people want to live vicariously through me? I don’t think so because to them I am considered a “nobody” right.
- What is vicarious living?
- Why does one choose to live a secondhand life?
- What is the risk of living through the accomplishments of others?
- How to stop living your life through other people’s accomplishments
First let’s just be clear on the meaning of vicarious living. “Living vicariously” is very common and sometimes healthy to a degree. It refers to living life through someone else’s experiences rather than being a part of the events ourselves. It requires engrossing ones self in another person’s world and mentally and emotionally feeling like their accomplishments and failures are your own.
Therefore, you get to have experiences you otherwise would not have for whatever the reason. Sometimes parents try to live through their children things they can’t or didn’t have a chance to do. Supporting and encouraging others is expected, but you must strive from within to do your own thing separate from that.
Why does one choose to live a secondhand life?
Think about your favorite professional sports team as an example. When your team win, your chest is way out proclaiming the victory, celebrating and using the word “we” as if you are a part of the team. It can give you the feeling of success to say “we” won without ever having to make an effort or do the work.
Most of us have probably secretly wondered what it would be like living someone else’s life. Parents sometime push their children too hard to be something they wanted to be or do and couldn’t. Since they failed or didn’t get a chance at it, they try to find satisfaction through the children’s success.
Living through other’s experiences explains why some people plan their lives around the television soap operas. The soaps continue to be popular generation after generation because they are a source of escape. The writers understand their audience and give them the glamour and the emotional stimulation they crave.
Watching soaps hour after hour takes the audience away from their own humdrum and sometimes depressing lives. These shows make everything look glamorous even when a crime is committed and someone goes to jail. Watch this short video about living vicariously through your children.
We do the same with movie stars and movies, attaching ourselves to the characters as if they are real instead of actors. We follow every detail of their lives in the news, on social media, and on television talk shows.
Many people attach themselves emotionally and even try to look like the person they idolize physically by having cosmetic surgery. They invest their time and money forming fan clubs, buying memorabilia, and almost die when one of their idols pass away.
What is the risk of living through the accomplishments of others?
Life passes you by. Season after season, year after year you watch life from the couch or the sideline. One day you realize you have no accomplishments of your own or your own merit to talk about. You can only talk and brag about others. You haven’t put your own gifts and talents to any good use for mankind and not even yourself. You might suddenly become disabled and feel regrets and hear yourself “saying shoulda, woulda, coulda and now it’s too late”.
Sadly you can hardly recognize who or what you are and don’t even like yourself very much. You get a phone call from an old friend who asks what’s new, what’s going on, how is everyone? You talk on and on about your family and what each one is doing and other friends and their families and what they’re doing. The friend on the other end of the line says, all of that is great, I’m glad everyone is doing so well but what about you? You haven’t told me anything about yourself.
Now you realize you don’t have anything to say about your own life that you’re proud of. You can’t think of anything exciting or noteworthy to tell your friend about you. You can barely remember what your dreams and ambitions were when the two of you were in college together. You’ve just been living through the achievements of others and talking about it with pride as if it was you.
There is nothing wrong with being happy for others it’s normal and healthy in more ways than one. But it just shouldn’t be your only way to experience joy and satisfaction. Each person need to have their own personal goals and pursuits even if you fail to reach them. At least know you gave it your best shot.
How to stop living your life through other people’s accomplishments
- Cut back on your television and social media consumption where you idolize celebrities.
- Stop making excuses for yourself – cut all umbilical cords.
- Go within, spend time with yourself learning who you really are.
- Deliberately do the work, learn to love yourself and go for what you want
My article “How To Be Successful In Life – Free training and instruction” will give you some ideas.
Cut back on television – A change will require work, it generally will not happen by Osmosis or wishful thinking. Start with reducing the time you watch television and hang out on social media. Don’t have a panic attack, you don’t need to go cold turkey unless you choose to; with courage change is possible.
Be sure to schedule something constructive and interesting in that time slot. Find out what is going on socially where you live to see, to talk to, and to interact with real people face to face. See what’s going on in other people’s lives to give you some ideas about what’s available locally to you.
Read the biography of one or more of the people you idolize. Ask yourself if you would be proud to introduce yourself to that person as a couch potato living vicariously through them. Their story might inspire you to improve yourself. You’ll be surprised what is going on around you while you have decided to be a bench warmer.
Stop making excuses
When you make excuses you are not accepting responsibility but hiding and shifting the blame somewhere else. At one time or another everybody makes mistakes then make excuses for the mistakes. Some of us start making excuses as a child and it never got corrected. It might have seemed harmless at the time, but making excuses early in life often leads to bigger habits and blame later.
It is your choices, your actions and your behaviors that creates the life you will have. If you make a mistake own up to it instead of blaming other people. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you won’t acknowledge you’ve made them. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, most of the time you will surely repeat them. When you do accept responsibility you’re likely to make better decisions in the future.
Go within yourself – Are you so boring you don’t want to spend time with yourself. Do you need to have entertainment and distractions all the time? Are you trying to avoid a little work and effort to develop your innate talents and gifts? You do have them you know, everyone does, we’re born with them.
Try taking a nice long walk in the park without listening to your favorite music or sports event through your headset or earplugs. Just use the time to think, ask yourself questions and try to answer them. Sit on a bench for awhile. Think back to your childhood to see what you fantasized about and said you would do or be when you grew up. Try to figure out when and why things changes.
Turn off the television an hour or two earlier and get out your high school year books. Reminisce and recapture your enthusiasm at that time and give yourself permission to start over. Of course you can’t wipe out your life to this point but you can improve some things going forward. Go ahead, give it a try, always remembering the passion and eagerness you had for life then.
Deliberately do the work – Now I will assume you have a little more wisdom than you had in high school. Maybe you’ve learned that it takes courage to get through the ups and downs of everyday life.
Just like you push yourself to get out to work every day, now make a vow to improve yourself, increase your own self esteem and be someone you can be proud of. Create your own story instead of living through other people. Set aside the time, set the alarm, turn off the television, put down the phone, there’s work to be done.
People have a built in resistance to change, to step out of our comfort zone. However, if you want different results, you have to do something different. Make the first step, and then another and another. Before you know it, what is new and uncomfortable to you now will become your comfort zone.
In conclusion – Don’t come to your golden years and have to look back over your life with regrets. Look in the mirror multiple times each day and tell yourself, “I am somebody” and I am becoming better. My life will no longer be just a shadow behind someone else. I will live my life to be all I can be. I promise myself and my creator!
I hope this post has been helpful. Please feel free to share it and leave comments and questions. It’s always appreciated.
Until next time, please remember to encourage someone!