Sunday, August 30, 2009

When Role Models Let You Down

(Originally posted July 21, 2009)

What do you do? Wallow in disappointment? Recognize that they are human? Spiritual beings having human experiences have been known to screw up. If my role models screw up, is there any hope for me? It’s made me think – do I really want to put myself out there as a spiritual teacher? What if I screw up big time and end up disappointing someone who looks up to me? It’s one thing to pull yourself up from ______________ (fill in your own specific drama/challenge – alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce, cancer, chronic over achieving, chronic under achieving, obesity, pathological lying, or whatever your ‘thing’ may be) and then teach about how you did it. It’s quite another thing to be a teacher and then mess up big time by doing something in direct conflict with that which you are teaching. Or is it? Sure, we teach by the words we write and say, but we also teach through our actions. As my husband often says, “No one is totally useless. They can always serve as the bad example.” Or the example by which we learn. Parents always hope their children won’t make the same mistakes they did. I know my dad would not want to see me get addicted to prescription medication. I know my mom would not want me to hold a grudge for 50+ years. I have an acquaintance that I have always admired and looked up to. This acquaintance has made some poor decisions recently in regards to his/her personal life. I know this person would not want to have anyone make those same mistakes or suffer the consequences of those actions. Everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t matter if it is one of your parents, the leader of your country, a teacher, a minister, a friend or an acquaintance. Hopefully, we all learn from our mistakes, and hopefully, as role models for others, not only do we learn, but we embrace the lesson and rise above any judgment (by self or by others) to go forward, in honesty, in integrity, in truth. We are going to make mistakes. Get over it. At some point, we are probably going to let someone down. Get over it. The only control we have is how we react to any given situation right now. We can’t change that we were disappointed by someone yesterday. We can’t be guaranteed that our favorite teacher or role model won’t do something foolish, illegal, or unethical tomorrow. We can only be in the moment and appreciate what is. Keep what’s good. Let go of the rest. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Or as one of my (fictional) role models, Jed Bartlet from The West Wing, would say, “What’s next?”


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